If you’ve ever purchased a costume fashioned after a pop culture character, the odds are good that it came from Ruble’s. The company started selling costumes at a small shop in Queens in the 1950s and now has licenses to produce costumes of characters from Mattel, Marvel, DC Comics, Playboy, Nickelodeon, Star Trek, and Star Wars, among others. Howard Beige, who runs Ruble’s with his siblings, tells us how they prepare for Halloween by anticipating what costumes and masks will be popular a year ahead of time, so customers can get exactly what they want.
But figuring out what that mask should be, and how many to make, isn’t easy. More people are dressing up for Halloween, but they’re doing it differently, picking costumes in early October based on news events, movies, or internet memes that went viral only a few weeks or months before. Rubie’s tries to anticipate Halloween trends a year in advance, but it’s constantly adjusting its plans as expected blockbusters flop (The Legend of Tarzan), beloved actors die (Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka costume will be popular this year), or millions of people get swept up in the Pokémon Go craze and Beige finds himself mass-manufacturing last-minute Pikachu costumes to fill thousands of back orders. Pokémon will break into Rubie’s 10 best-selling costumes this year, which didn’t happen when it was popular the first time around. “Thank God we already had the license and the designs for that one,” he says. “Otherwise, it would’ve been a disaster.”
Read about the history of Ruble’s Costumes, and how they operate today, at Bloomberg Businessweek. -via Digg
(Image credit: Emiliano Granado for Bloomberg Businessweek)