The massive Halloween costume stores started to pop up all around New York late September. I was looking for some quick item for a show I was designing so I decided to just pop into a few to see if I could grab the item. While combing the racks and racks of bagged costumes I started to form a question that began to bother me greatly.
If a costume company is selling a character's costume from a well known tv show or movie, does the costume designer for that production get paid/recognition? (ie: There were about four or five different costumes for Eleven from Stranger Things and all I could think of: "Are the designers getting paid for her deign work for each of these being sold?")
My first stop was to figure out if designs for movies and tv shows had any legal protection. Here are a few things I found:
From what I could find, even if the character is copyrighted or trademarked, the clothing they are wearing can not be. The patterns or artwork on them could potentially be, but the clothing itself can't.
I also looked if I could find any information about if designers are involved in the creation of these bagged Halloween costumes of their costume designs. I couldn't find any information. I would be interested in learning what happens once a costume has been filmed; what rights do a costume designer have to any Halloween costumes of their designs.
Something that did come up in my research was collaborations between costume designers and merchandising and/or the lack-there-of. The Hollywood Reporter has an article from 2016 speaking with a few costume designers about merchandising fashion linked with the shows they designed for. It answered a few questions and just piled more in their places.
So, for now it seems like designers don't collaborate on the Halloween costumes of their designs that you can buy at these mega Halloween stores. If you want to be your favorite character from a tv or movie I would suggest learning about the designer a little, gathering photos, and thrift the items or looking in your own closet to pull together the look for the character. It is fun, eco-friendly, and maybe in some way a nod to the designers who created these looks to begin with.
This may be my hot take. What do you think?