This Halloween, sexy is out and slugs are in. Pokemon trumps politics, and gory is sought by kids and older adults with millennials looking for Instagram-worthy beauty, according to novelty shops, costume emporiums and thrift stores.
“People are looking for silly or gory instead of the French maid,” said Shana Danger Iverson of novelty store Archie McPhee’s in Wallingford.
Iverson, whose official title is “High Priestess of Rubber Chickens,” also said the store is selling a lot of its trademark Medusa items and a fair amount of Kenneth Bone-type mustaches. Bone is the red-sweater wearer who made a splash at the last presidential debate.
“We’re most excited about our banana slug mask, which we designed and had made,” she said.
Victoria Champion, who last year bought her family’s shop, Champion Party Supply, agreed that provocative is definitely less alluring to customers than in years past.
“There’s not many women in the sexy female costume aisle,” she said. “Women are more likely to come in here looking for something funny or for a couple’s costume.”
Creativity and cleverness are also at a premium with lots of people looking for something unique and one-of-a-kind.
“Adults love to wait till the last day and of course, on Halloween day, we’ll sell a lot of the whole packaged costumes with people running in and saying ‘I don’t care. I guess I’m a bumble bee,’” she said. “Right now, we’re getting people going for obscure puns.”
Her favorite so far?
“We had one person in here who wanted to be Jon Snow White — so dressed like Jon Snow from ‘Game of Thrones’ with a Snow White dress over it.”
At Value Village in Crown Hill, store manager Mark Ortega says that for little children, superheroes and popular characters such as Master Chief and Harry Potter have enduring allure, as do unicorns, princesses and cats.
Millennials, however, “want to look beautiful, handsome, sexy or medieval romantic, like the girl in ‘Suicide Squad,’” said Ortega, who says the weeks leading up to Halloween are the bread and butter of thrift stores as Christmas season is for the malls.
“Older people want to be scary. Or they want to be Republicans, Democrats or celebrities,” Ortega said.
Speaking of elections, Champion said it’s a well-known adage in the costume industry that the popularity of a presidential candidate’s mask in an election year correlates with who wins.
All bets are off this year, though, she said. For one thing, sales of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump masks are “neck and neck” and further, “it’s hard to tell if they’re supporting or mocking” the candidate.
While sales of Halloween costumes for kids are a year-in, year-out given, adult participation in the holiday has been growing steadily, according to the National Retail Federation which tracks retail spending and consumer trends.
Money spent on Halloween costumes and decorations are expected to reach an all-time high of 8.4 billion this year, the highest since the retail trade group began its annual survey.
Millennial consumers, ages 18 to 34, are the most likely of all adult generations to participate in Halloween, and they’re spending more money than other adults, $42.39 compared with $31.03 for all adults, according to the NRF’s annual survey.
The retail federation speculated that the increased interest in all things Halloween could be due to the prevalence of social media.
“A decade ago, a partygoer could get away with showing up without a costume and nobody would know except the people in the room,” according to a news statement by the organization.
Nick Stubberfield, a spokesman for Value Village, said top costume inspirations in the Puget Sound region are:
▪ Dragon, horse and wolf masks as well as masks of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Despite the popularity of both Trump and Clinton masks, though, they take a back seat nationally to the popularity of Pokemon Go.
“Americans are one-and-a-half times more likely to see Halloween ensembles inspired by Pokemon Go characters than by the election,” said a Value Village news release.
▪ Halo Master Chief and Harry Potter for boys
▪ Grecian Goddess, princesses and Unicorns for girls, along with Princess Accessories and Headpieces.
▪ Hammerhead Shark and Bananas for men
▪ Grecian Goddess and Bavarian Beer Maid for women
▪ Top DIY inspirations include Lady Gaga, “Suicide Squad” and characters from “Stranger Things” and “American Horror Story.” National thrift trends show that young millennials are more inclined to be inspired by “ Suicide Squad”; “The Avengers” have the vote among those ages 25 to 34, and people ages 45 and over are still loyal to “Star Wars.”