Morphsuit Mania

Morphsuit Mania

Life is more fun in color

Technically speaking, the word "morph" means to change, and since 2009 Morphsuits has changed the costume landscape with their innovative concept and design. The men behind the Morphsuits are Gregor Lawson and brothers Fraser and Ali Smeaton, and Lawson took the time to talk with Party & Paper about how they've used social media and innovation to create a product that's morphing the costume scene.

What are Morphsuits?
Morphsuits are all-in-one spandex suits that cover the whole of your body from head to toe. You can breathe through them, drink through them and see through them, but no one can see you. Morphsuits come in 40 different colors and patterns in different sizes to fit all shapes and sizes. They can be used for just about anything - parties to Prom, charity runs to Christmas and Halloween, birthdays to Student Nights and sports events to just going down to the Wal-Mart to pick up some milk.

When and how did the idea originate?
I lived in Dublin and had a one-color costume party. One of my friends arrived in a blue all-in-one Lycra suit that covered his whole body. He was like a celebrity. We watched him posing in hundreds of photos and getting bought lots of drinks. This was when the potential became clear. We then worked on redesigning the suit to make it easier to see through, invested some money, made a website for $300, bought 200 Morphsuits and started shipping them from our apartment.

When we first started we did everything in addition to our main jobs (which were for some of the largest companies out there - Procter & Gamble, Barclays, etc.) which involved a lot of 2 a.m. finishes, but since then we have outsourced everything we are not good at and now have 200 people working for us indirectly.

We're equal shareholders and split the work in accordance with our strengths - and we all do the morph modeling!

Were they originally marketed for Halloween or as an all-occasion costume?
Having launched first in the United Kingdom (U.K.), we viewed it as an all-occasion costume, as the U.K. is a year round costume market. Whilst we saw a peak at Halloween, demand is steady throughout the year. However, having launched in the U.S., it's clear the focus is for Halloween, but we have been delighted by the year round sales.

What makes them so unique?
Three things:

You feel like a celebrity - Morphsuits are very eye-catching and fun to look at, so people in Morphsuits get a lot more attention than when they are wearing normal clothes. This tends to release their inner thespian so they literally "morph" into a more fun, outgoing version of themselves. When you add in the fact they can see but no one can see them, it makes some people go crazy.

Product innovation - We are always first to market with the best new designs (often designed by our Facebook fans) and accessories. Coupled with this, they are really easy to accessorize, so they can be used for different occasions. A red morph with a cape, horns and fork is a devil at Halloween or a blue morph with a tutu can be used for a charity fun run.

Product quality - We only focus on this type of product, so we know what needs improvement. This gives us a returns rate of less than 1 percent.

In terms of popularity, what is the best-selling Morphsuit to date?
Black is incredibly popular. It's great for Halloween, it's slimming and it goes with just about everything. Tuxedo has been very popular over the past two months with lots of people wearing it to Prom.

All in all, we have 40 different colors and patterns, with 10 new designs launching for Halloween. So watch out for the scarily brilliant PumpkinMorph, Count Morphula and the Wicked Morph Witch!

Are these strictly for men, or have women taken to the trend as well?
The majority of our customers are men, but we do have a growing female consumer base. We are just about to launch a Morphsuit with a built on tutu, which we hope will get more women morphing than ever before.

Morphsuits has more than 660,000 Facebook fans. How have you harnessed the power of social media?
Social media is the life and soul of Morphsuits. We launched on Facebook out of necessity rather than anything else, as we didn't have budget for paid advertising but also knew it fit in perfectly with our target audience. We are proud to have more fans than Toyota, Nestle and Guinness.

We have achieved this by focusing on two areas:

Engagement: Our Facebook page is great fun. We run lots of competitions that are easy and fun to take part in - photo caption competitions, Morph Planking and Best Accessories. We had a competition to design a Morph Superhero, and promised to create the design with the most votes. Splash Morph will be on sale in August!

Interaction: We are on our page all the time and treat it like a consumer forum. We respond to comments good and bad. Our Facebook fans respect that we take negative feedback.

People send you pictures from all over the world of your Morphsuits in action. What are some of the craziest things people have done in their costumes?
We get so many amazing photographs that we've had to make the "Morph Hall of Fame" on Facebook. Some of the entries include morphs bungee jumping, skydiving, at the summit of Kilimanjaro, graduating, etc. But I think my personal favorite is a morph flying a Microlite plane.

With your recent success in the U.S., are you looking to expand your reach to the states even more?
We started in the U.K., but the U.S. is now our biggest market. Clearly the focus is Halloween, but we've been delighted with the demand for Prom, sports events and festivals. In terms of expansion, we took a booth at the Houston Halloween show and had an unbelievable response from the trade and are now listed in Party City, which will expand our reach significantly.

What's next on the horizon for Morphsuits?
Kids Morphsuits - so cute, so cool!

By Abby Heugel
Managing Editor


Originally posted Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011