TORONTO - From the complex characters in a medieval epic to a band of bearded duck hunters on the Louisiana bayou, elements of fantasy and reality are inspiring some of this year's hot Halloween costumes.
Value Village store manager Christine Riddell said the large cast and regal twist showcased in the hit cable series "Game of Thrones" has made the show a go-to for those seeking to recreate the ensembles, such as the sword-wielding knights or platinum blond Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.
At the other end of the style and time spectrums, the Robertson clan featured on popular reality show "Duck Dynasty" is offering an ample dose of Southern comfort for costume enthusiasts clamouring to mimic their distinctive, outdoorsy ensembles.
"Most guys have a pair of rubber boots or a camouflage pair of pants. You've just got to put an old T-shirt with it, a bandanna, a pair of sunglasses, and of course, the big accessory is the big beard," said Riddell. "It's a funny show, so the guys really have fun putting this (costume) together."
"Breaking Bad" may have faded to black, but fans of the recently concluded TV crime drama can still channel Walter White with their Halloween getups.
Geoff Waszek, co-owner of Candy's Costume Shop in Toronto, said they've been fielding requests for costumes inspired by the award-winning series. They've managed to come through by bringing in hazmat suits inspired by those worn by the fictional meth-maker.
Waszek said the costume-buying process begins in January when he attends a Halloween convention in Houston to scope out ensembles slated to be produced for the year. He said the costumes always follow what's popular in the news, media or movies.
"For example, the Avengers are very, very popular. All the girls, they want to be Catwoman, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Silk Spectre from 'The Watchmen,'" Waszek said. "The children want to be Spider-Man, (characters from) 'Despicable Me,' Wolverine - all basically the most popular costumes that we sell generally follow the movies.Story continues after slideshow:
"'Iron Man' is always popular and I'm sure with the success of 'Gravity,' we're going to be having a lot of requests for astronaut suits now," Waszek added, a reference to the hit lost-in-space flick starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
In Value Village's fourth annual Halloween Shopping Survey of 1,000 adults, the thrift retailer found nearly half of respondents think movies and TV shows are the best source of costume inspiration.
The recent blockbuster season 4 premiere of "The Walking Dead" proved that the zombie series still has bite, and its popularity is being parlayed into Halloween costumes.
"I think we get the most requests right now for zombies. You can really zombie-fy anything," said Riddell. "It's on trend, and it's really easy and inexpensive with our gently used clothing selection here.
"We've seen the bride and groom, the prom queen. We've seen the cheerleader and football players, rock stars - and you can basically take it anywhere," she added, citing fake blood, silver hairspray and makeup and shredded or torn clothes among the staples in assembling the ghoulish getups.
Waszek said he's observed a growing appetite for spookier costumes among younger consumers.
"Generally, in previous years, a lot of girls just want to be princesses or superheroes. But we're getting a lot more requests for the horror costumes," he said, adding that they zombie costume and horror prom queen getups on offer.
Beyond mining pop culture for ideas, the likelihood of online posts, "likes" - or perhaps a desire to avoid duplication - is also a driving force behind costume choice, the Value Village poll suggested.
Almost 40 per cent of respondents said they make a greater effort to wear something different each year because they know pictures of them in costume will be posted on social media channels such as Facebook and Pinterest. Nearly 70 percent of those who typically don costumes admitted social media platforms influence their costume choices. Meanwhile, nearly half are inspired by looking at photos of what others wore that pop up in their online feeds.
While outlandish costumes may make waves, individuals don't necessarily need to to break the bank - or even buy a full costume - to piece together an on-trend look.
"If a customer has their own suit, they could do 'The Great Gatsby' where we just give them a hat, a bowtie and a cane and they're off. And they leave very happy," said Waszek.
Indeed, the recent big-screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel has helped revitalize interest in '20s-inspired fashions. And for some, thoughs of the dapper styles featured on the big screen still lingers as they assemble their Halloween outfits.
Riddell said they've been fielding a lot of requests for "Gatsby"-inspired looks channelling the glam, roaring '20s, such as flapper-style dresses.
Also generating buzz is steampunk, which draws on influences from the industrial age and Victorian-era styles. Riddell described it as a combination of a Sherlock Holmes look with "a bit of spin" with gears and gadgets, with girls sporting black boots and fishnet stockings.
"We have a lot of people asking for that. We do have a lot of new accessories: that's a lot a brown and dark colours, goggles and pocket watches and things like that. That seems to be a popular one this year."
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