Costumes are essential to the game of dress-up, a play-style that is known for being beneficial to cognitive growth and the increase in abilities such as creative thinking, social collaboration, and more. Given the positive nature of role-playing games, it is natural that many parents encourage their Children to imagine. Hence, many youngster’s closets are full of whimsical outfits and/or old Halloween costumes that can be worn and enjoyed over and over again.

In the United States and elsewhere, Halloween is the busiest season for costume-producers. Companies from Rubies, to Props in a Box, to Aeromax, understand that outfits are popular items around this time of year and the more creative they are, the better. Great Pretenders, a Canadian company that specializes in elaborate dress-up outfits, knows how hectic this time of year can be and they anticipate the rush far in advance.

Although Great Pretenders understands the value of imaginative play and encourages parents to check out their offerings all year long, they do pay special heed to the wares that they produce around Halloween. In fact, for the 2017 Halloween season, they are offering an all-new array of costumes that are based on both current trends and traditional fads.

Costume expert Dianne Stitzel recently granted an exclusive interview where she discussed Halloween, costumes, and her experiences as a designer with Great Pretenders.

Costumes, Halloween, and trends

Meagan Meehan (MM): Great Pretenders is known for their awesome costumes, but is Halloween the absolute busiest time of year for you guys?

Dianne Stitzel (DS): The wonderful part of the imaginative play and dress up is that it is an all-year-round category. We do see an increase in online sales for our B2C customers. Online sales usually jump 20% around this time of year.

Parents turn to costume suppliers they trust for their children's Halloween costumes. They recognize that our products will last well after all the tricks and treats are done. Overall for our company, we see an increase in the months leading up to Halloween and Christmas for our B2B retailers. They gear up for a strong fourth quarter and make sure they are fully stocked for the busy season of retail.

MM: What kinds of outfits are especially popular among girls and boys?

DS: Kids in North America are really into Superheroes! In the last few years, we've seen superhero related items and costumes increase in popularity. From capes to accessories and whole costumes-be on the lookout for many superhero related outfits this Halloween since they are certainly trendy!

MM: What are your newest offerings this year and have you any particular favorites?

DS: This year was the year of the Belle movie. We designed cinematic gowns and capes for young princesses to be the belles of the ball. Fairy tales are always a wonderful source of inspiration for us. We designed a reversible Snow White/Belle cape as well as a Rapunzel/Cinderella cape for double the fairy tale fun. My particular favorite item we launch this year was an ever so fashionable but straightforward accessory. As I am partly biased after designing it, I think these adorable kitty clips are just a fantastic addition to any outfit for kids or older kids like me!

MM: It's no secret that there are more toy and clothing options for girls than boys. So, do you find designing costumes for boys to be more challenging and/or limited?

DS: Recently we've noticed the lines blurring between traditional boy’s and girl’s costumes. And as it should. Boys love wearing fairy wings, and girls love being dragons! We've re-categorized our design processes do not distinguish between gender. Instead, we look at categories. Example Knights, Superheroes, Baby, Toddler, Fairy, etc. and try to design to fill voids within the line. We keep on trends in the market and pop culture and design items that will make an overall category complete. For example, recently we saw a void in our knight section for accessories. Following sales data, the accessory is a strong category for Knights, and so for 2018, we will be releasing some great new knight accessories!

Accessories, designing, and insights

MM: You are really growing your accessories lines, have they been largely in-demand?

DS: Jewelry and accessories are categories that are always being updated. It's one of the most fashion-forward aspects of our Great Pretenders collection. We like to stay up on trends, new techniques, beads, and every piece is custom selected and designed by our team. Accessories are a great way of updating a dress-up trunk for new fun storylines and are easy for kids to pick up for instant play fun.

MM: What costumes have proven to be "timeless classics" and which are some of the newest and quirkiest that you have?

DS: I believe one of our timeless classics has been our reversible Spider Bat Cape. After numerous awards over the years and flawlessly made in Canada production, it has sure shown to be a classic staple to so many children's dress up chests. We see a lot of trends come and go and recently unicorns are the hottest new thing. We have added a unicorn cape, wands and even matching headband all with great success!

MM: If an aspiring costume designer asked you for advice on entering the children's dress-up market, what insights could you offer them?

DS: As an aspiring children's dress up designer I would try and spend some time dressing up! Spending time with your core demographic is not only fun but is valuable to designing fun products that will appeal children and their parents. Children have wonderful imaginations and playing with the products you intend to design will help you develop your imagination.

MM: Is there anything else, Halloween-related or not, that you would like to discuss?

DS: Halloween is my favorite holiday! It's fun to go on social media and see how creative everyone gets with their costumes. For Great Pretenders, we love getting tagged and seeing all the kids enjoying their costumes or making their costumes their own...A Dragon Princess, Lego Superhero, Ninja Bat, Unicorn Pirate... great little pretenders wearing Great Pretenders!

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