Boo and Beyond

Boo and Beyond
Sexy couples’ costumes are a year-round favorite


With fun-loving couples hosting and attending more themed parties and group dress-up events than ever before, the costume marketplace is abuzz with innovation and creativity.
Couples’ costumes — especially sexy ones — are a huge trend right now, and they’ve been gaining momentum since last year, said Patty Gatto, director of sales for Delicious Sexywear of New York, a division of Rubie’s Costumes.
“Women want to dress up their boyfriends and husbands and go out in a theme; couples’ costumes are a great vehicle for that,” said Gatto, who filled the gaps in Rubie’s line by developing 214 costumes for 2014 designed to appeal to couples.
“Couples’ costumes are a necessary part of both a manufacturer’s line of products and a retailer’s line of products,” said Lar Hovsepian, director of marketing at Bell, California-based Dreamgirl International. “For us, it’s been a growing category that’s definitely increasing in popularity due the fact that people go to Halloween parties in pairs or in groups. The consumer is then motivated to come back year after year.”
Julian Smith, head of international development for UK-based Smiffy’s, has seen a move away from traditional themes and more demand for unique designs. Smiffy’s Fever brand, the fastest-growing area of its 6,000-line range, has been strategically developed to further separate it from Smiffy’s more mainstream Halloween themes by aligning with lingerie boutiques and costume retailers with an adult bent in their customer base.
“Here, couples’ styles have proven more difficult to deliver successfully, and we’re still seeing a reluctance by men to adopt more revealing and sexy costumes,” Smith said. “It’s in the area of role-play and bedroom dress-up that we see the biggest potential for Fever expansion. We recently launched an incredible range of role-play lingerie at the International Lingerie Show in Las Vegas, and we hope to expand on this to bring in men’s complimentary ranges.”
The More, the Merrier
Smiffy’s ranges offer a wide selection within a specific theme for couples and for groups. Themes such as Ghost Town, Carnival of the Damned — think masquerade with a Halloween twist, Hell’s Asylum featuring lab experiments, Grotesque Burlesque and Cirque Sinister have all proven exceptionally popular and were designed with couples in mind. 
“Groups of people who want to buy into a particular theme are often disappointed if there’s only one or two styles,” Smith said. “So we’re selecting the one or two best designs in a strong potential theme, and rather than launch one or two, come out with between a dozen and 20 styles.”
Sexy cops are still all the rage, and Delicious features everything from a romper-style, a catsuit sexy cop, a short, wet-look lamé look and traditional fitted blue dresses, complete with handcuffs and belt.
Hovsepian added that Dreamgirl’s suggestive catalogs, featuring vignettes and humorous categories, help set it apart from the competition.
“Our designers push the envelope with regards to standout costumes, because Halloween is a night for show-and-tell,” Hovsepian said. “We’ve introduced reversible costumes, quick-change costumes, light-up and sound effects costumes — for our sexy firefighter, you push a button and the words glow and make noises; we also have a robot. It’s a good way to make an entrance into a party.”
Dreamgirl’s costumes that can be worn multiple ways continue to sell well — long dresses with hidden zippers that enable wearers to quickly change the hem length.
“For example, on our One Hot Night costume the sheer-paneled portion at the bottom zips off and becomes a cape, so it gives people the option to be a little more modest or sexy,” she said. “It’s like getting two different costumes.”
Double the Add-Ons
Smiffy’s has seen a big increase in accessories sales globally — particularly in the U.S. Face paint, eyelashes and hosiery are becoming increasingly important, Smith noted.
“Retailers are more creative now; they’re selling ‘the look’ rather than just costumes and accessories separately,” said Smith. “There’s a real saturation of the standard costume-style wigs in the marketplace. People want high-quality and longevity. Our new Fever wigs are washable, heat-stylable, and you can change the size of the wig cap.”
For 2014, Smiffy’s introduced a greater variety of costume sizes and brought in more authenticity into its designs by using quality materials and paying special attention to the ‘finishing touches.’
“This year, we’re launching a new role-playing lingerie range,” Smith said. “And depending on the success we hope we’re going to get, we’re looking to introduce more men’s styles to work with them as couples’ sets next year. The male market in that particular area is not very well catered for in the industry in general. There’s an untapped opportunity there.”
In terms of themes, Hovsepian said warrior-themed costumes are super hot thanks to the explosive popularity of Game of Thrones.
“The trend in men’s costumes has often been geared towards goofy, fun costumes, or sexually-driven costumes,” she said. “Now, it’s kind of going the other way — guys want to look masculine. There will always be the ones that want to wear the beard-driven costumes, but men want to show off a little sometimes and they want to coordinate with their ladies, so we think that’s going to be a growing line for us.”
Gatto noted that Delicious is also changing things up with new female costumes that can be matched with existing male items from Rubie’s line.
“You see a lot of prisoners, but we made the female the warden and the male the prisoner; she’s got a sexy costume with a longer silhouette on the skirt, almost like a pencil skirt — very fashion-forward — and of course, the woman’s in charge,” said Gatto, who also likes Delicious’ pilot and flight attendant costume, and its old-time sailor and matching first mate’s gear.
“Vintage and retro are also just crazy this year; with the success of Mad Men, Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby, all kinds of things, like flapper stuff, came back to life again,” Gatto added.
Moving forward, Dreamgirl will continue to feature couples’ costumes up front in their catalogs.
“Virtually every couples’ costume in our current line has done well and will be carried over,” Hovsepian said. “The sale of one helps drive the sale of another.”

By Wendy Helfenbaum
Special to Party & Paper Retailer

Originally posted Friday, Dec. 27, 2013

Tags: adult costumes, couples' costumes, delicious sexywear, dreamgirl, rubie's costume co., smiffy's