Abrams, in various interviews, frequently noted that he wasn’t a Trekkie and that he never “got” “Star Trek.” He was always more of a “Star Wars” guy, which may go a long way to explain why the 2009 “Star Trek” movie is so action-packed and fiery, instead of cerebral and philosophical. Kaplan noted that he, too, was no Trekkie, and that Abrams admired that about him. They both seemed to feel that their outsider perspective would be creatively beneficial and that their sci-fi influences would be older and more varied than the singular universe of Trek.
Notably, Kaplan had to design uniforms for two different “Star Trek” eras. The first era took place on board the U.S.S. Kelvin, right when James T. Kirk was born, while the bulk of the picture took place when Kirk was in his early 20s. For the “present day,” Kaplan figured he could extrapolate a modern version of the 1960s uniforms. For the “past” portions, however, Kaplan felt that borrowing from sci-fi that existed prior to “Star Trek” was appropriate. He said:
“I wanted to have a different flavor and a different look on the Kelvin. I looked back into 1950’s sci-fi films like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ and ‘Forbidden Planet’ and kind of wanted to take that retro futuristic feeling and infuse it. J.J. was very happy with that look. That’s the kind of research I did, certainly not copying any of those but trying to get that kind of retro flavor so that when you saw it, subconsciously you’d know you were in an earlier world.”
The U.S.S. Kelvin was the ship piloted (briefly) by Kirk’s father (Chris Hemsworth), and one can see the “Forbidden Planet” influence in his tunic.