For more than 60 years, New York-based Rubie’s Costume Company has been a leader in designing, manufacturing and distributing costumes and accessories. The family-run business is renowned for creating bestselling products for toddlers, kids, teens, tweens, adult and pets, sold in national retail chains, toys stores, costume shops, variety stores and other specialty retailers around the world.
With several A-list entertainment licenses in its portfolio, including Minions, Batman Unlimited, Marvel’s Avengers and Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, Rubie’s is one of the premiere licensees in the children’s dress-up market. In fact, licensed character costumes for kids 13 and under comprise 50% of sales for the company’s kids costume segment.
While also equipped with themed outfits for special occasions such as Easter and Christmas, and everyday generic costumes, Halloween is Rubie’s bread and butter—a full 75% of its annual business is realized in the run up to October 31.
What According to Rubie’s EVP Howie Beige, the hottest kids Halloween costumes for 2015 are primarily inspired by blockbuster films released this year, including Minions, Ant-Man, and superheroes Iron Man and Captain America from Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, perennial favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman and co. (Joker, Catwoman, Batgirl, Harley Quinn) have been top sellers for the past 10 to 15 years. With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens premiering in December, Beige expects plenty of trick-or-treaters will also don costumes of their favorite characters from the iconic franchise. But with the movie launching post-Halloween, he predicts 2016 will be the bigger year for Star Wars costumes.
Key trends in the business are growth in DIY costumes (particularly with tweens/teens), better overall quality, and families dressing up as one theme (Minions, Wizard of Oz, superhero ensembles) and including their pets.
“There’s been tremendous growth in the pet costume category—20% per year—it’s absolutely astounding. People are definitely treating pets the same way they treat children, and they’re buying better quality costumes for their pets,” Beige says.
But furry friends aren’t the only ones being fitted with better Halloween getups. Beige says manufacturers like Rubie’s have upped their costume game, while keeping key price-points steady at between US$19.99 and US$29.99.
“If you go back eight or nine years ago, the majority of costumes were just made with 70 denier nylon fabric. Today, you’re seeing companies use gabardines, heavy polyesters, faux velvet, embroidered fabrics, treated fabrics with molded muscle chests in them, better quality printing, more vibrant colors, raised printing using glitter and sequined trims.”
For Halloween 2016 and beyond, Rubie’s has two key innovations in the pipeline to further bring its licensed costumes to life. “You’re going to see us emphasize adding light and sounds, particularly in kids costumes,” Beige says. With Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice hitting theaters March 2016, Rubie’s plans to add fibre optic backlights to the costumes’ chest logos, a significant improvement from the LED lights Rubie’s has previously used, Beige says.
And hoping to tap into the buzz from two other upcoming movie releases, Beige says Rubie’s is also looking at adding lights and sounds to its Star Wars and TMNT costumes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 hits theaters next June). “We’re looking at certain ones that will actually have voices and say different phrases in the costumes,” Beige says. “For instance, imagine a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume for a young child saying, ‘Cowabunga, dude!'”
Howard Beige, EVP, Rubie’s Costume Company (516-326-1500, email@example.com)
This article was originally published in Kidscreen’s October 2015 issue.