Just replayed Kotor 1 and there are some reference to a tech jump indeed.
Some enemies still wear armor (Bandon, Revan himself, Malak has light armor) and you are constantly confronted with it. I know of some Jedi Guardian builds who actually use armor.
Also, most of the quest hint towards new technology. The moisture vaporators on Tatooine, the Sandcrawler, The Ebon Hawk is 'the fastest ship' (thus new).
And if you look at the Exar Kun comics, their armors are already hinting towars robes more.