Pop culture icons popular with costume buyers
CAPITAL REGION The wild-eyed bunny in the top hat and deep green coat and pants was bothering Kathy Welden-Pinney.
“I can’t see,” Welden-Pinney told a friend at The Costumer, as she touched the mask that covered her head. “Are these the eye holes? And I can’t breathe.”
A few minutes later, horror movie icon Freddy Krueger had vanquished the rascally rabbit. Welden-Pinney modeled the red-welted head mask at Schenectady’s longtime masquerade shop and replaced her green top with Freddy’s traditional long-sleeved, striped sweater. Once Welden-Pinney had secured the character’s battered brown fedora and razor-knifed glove, her Halloween nightmare was complete.
Welden-Pinney, 41, who lives in Scotia, hopes to shock friends later this month at Coburg Village in Rexford. She’s executive director at the senior living community and is planning a Halloween party for Oct. 31.
“This year, the theme is monsters,” she said.
With Halloween less than two weeks away, adults and children are making their selections for the annual festivities. Costume store owners say characters from pop culture — and recent news events — are the most popular choices for 2013.
Kathe Sheehan, president of The Costumer, said there has been interest in the long-bearded and camouflage-loving boys from the A&E reality series “Duck Dynasty.” And zombies are still on the march, fueled by graphic novels, zombie walks and runs and the hit AMC show “The Walking Dead.”
“The zombie trend continues,” Sheehan said. “Zombies have been hot the last several years. They keep getting bigger and bigger.”
Prospective zombies can improve — or further degrade — appearances by picking up accessories. Plastic zombie “teeth,” are $2.98, an arm complete with exposed bone, mottled red tissue and streams of “blood” running to the fingers, is $12.98. Shrunken heads and a leg piece — black pants included — are other options.
Cerenity Sedgwick, 9, of Scotia, and Kimani Stevenson, 5, of Niskayuna, have more refined tastes. They tried on their favorite outfits in Costumer dressing rooms and will celebrate Halloween as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and Ariel, the princess mermaid from “The Little Mermaid,” respectively.
Sheehan said her sales numbers for this year are currently ahead of her 2012 figures.
“I think people are ready to celebrate Halloween,” she said. “They’re ready for a change of pace. Halloween is the only holiday where you’re spending the money on yourself, as opposed to buying a present for somebody. I think it’s a break from the doom and gloom we’ve had in the news.”
According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, people celebrating Halloween will spend an average of $75 on costumes, candy and decorations. The federation expects 2013 spending to reach $6.9 billion.
Sheehan said other traditional, spooky faces from pop culture remain on her shelves. People still want Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees from the “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” slasher movies. Even the Munster and Addams families, famous in 1960s television series, still have followers.
Lois Myers, owner of Halloween Hall in Ballston Spa, said her customers are also taking a cue from hit television shows. Like Sheehan, Myers has been selling zombie fashions, but she’s also had requests for wigs and hats reminiscent of the Revolutionary War.
“This is just a guess, but I think this is the thing that’s on TV, with the Headless Horseman,” Myers said, mentioning the new Fox series “Sleepy Hollow.” “I think it’s inspiring people.”
One-piece, skintight body suits in assorted colors are big, especially for a group costume. Myers has also heard from steampunk fans, folks who like to mix Victorian-style dress with items that resemble steam-powered accessories. Goggles and top hats are often part of the look.
As for Miley Cyrus and the pop star’s infamous “twerking” stunt at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, Myers might have better luck pushing “Hannah Montana” outfits.
“No one has even approached me with it,” she said.
Cyrus’ popularity is also in doubt at Capital Costumes & Vintage in Colonie Center.
“Haven’t had a single request,” said Lisa Jochnowitz, who has owned the business since 1984.
She said she’s selling more accessories this year — hats, gloves and capes. “And masquerade masks,” she said. “Masquerade masks have been hot for the past two years, at least.”
Comic book superheroes such as DC’s Superman and members of Marvel’s Avengers team — riding high after recent movies — are also on the Capital hot list.
Jochnowitz also meets people who want to go back in time — and dress in styles from the Renaissance. These are thrifty people — Jochnowitz said these folks may try to wear their Halloween choices at Renaissance fairs.
Spirit Halloween — a national chain of 1,052 stores with several outlets in the Capital Region — says Miley Cyrus will make appearances at Halloween parties. The “twerking teddy” and large foam finger now identified with the singer are in the store’s inventory.
“It’s a very, very hot commodity right now,” said Crystal Rodriguez, manager of marketing and licensing for the New Jersey-based chain.