"As far as licensed costumes go, definitely costumes inspired from 'Frozen' are huge this year — Elsa being the big one," Value Village store manager Christine Riddell said of the film's blond heroine.
Getups for the film's other heroine, Anna, and snowman Olaf are popular as well, but Riddell said "Elsa costumes have been flying off the shelves." Kids can also customize their own Elsa ensembles with blue dresses and blond wigs, she noted.
Geoff Waszek, co-owner of Candy's Costume Shop in Toronto, said they've had "Frozen" products in stock since June in anticipation of the demand.
"We're finding a lot of ... families are dressing up like all of the characters. One of the daughters will be Elsa, sister will be Anna, brother as Olaf, and parents sometimes want to dress up like (mountain man) Kristof or one of the trolls."
While fairy tale-inspired costumes are perennial favourites, the film — inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" — has blazed a trail for fresh styles inspired by fantasy fables, like drama series "Once Upon a Time" and the villainous sorceress Maleficent portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
Riddell, whose store is in Ajax, Ont., said there are multiple ways to assemble the "Maleficent" costume and its distinctive headpiece while giving the look a unique flair.
"You can take a beautiful black party dress and add a collar and horns — and it's your own take on it."
In Value Village's fifth annual Halloween Shopping Survey of more than 1,000 adults, there was a virtual dead heat between respondents drawing on either traditional themes or pop culture as sources of style inspiration. The thrift retailer found that 30 per cent of adults polled looked to classics such as vampires or witches, while 31 per cent tap into movies, TV shows and celebrities in determining their Halloween look.
"The Walking Dead" seems to bridge that divide as fans continue to flock to the zombie series, and costume-seekers continue to hunt down styles influenced by the show — and the undead. The recent season 5 premiere had a record 17.3 million viewers, and was also selected in the Value Village poll as the TV series that will inspire the most costumes for the fourth consecutive year.
"We've had zombie requests just (like) crazy," said Riddell. "We did last year as well, but we find that we're selling more blood, and people are looking for just an absolute variety of costumes you can throw blood on and zombie-fy anything."
Waszek said he's found many girls are seeking horror-themed costumes as well.
"Not every girl wants to be a princess anymore. They want to be a vampire as well, or they want to be a zombie or the Bride of Frankenstein or a dead bride. Those have become very popular for the girls six to 10, I would say."
Riddell said costumes inspired by the undead are a big draw among couples. Many people gravitate toward co-ordinating their costumes in pairs, typically opting for scarier styles spanning from spooky pirates to zombie police officers, she noted. On a less macabre note, some are even channelling real-life royalty with costumes inspired by Prince William and his wife Kate.
"Just on the weekend, we had a pregnant Kate request because we've got the baby bumps that we sell here as well," Riddell said.
"Game of Thrones" continues its reign as a popular option among costume-seekers. Riddell said medieval-themed ensembles inspired by the hit show are ideal for those seeking to assemble their own ensembles with gently used furs, armour and swords reminiscent of characters featured on the swashbuckling fantasy series.
Riddell said the bearded clan of Louisiana duck hunters from hit reality series "Duck Dynasty" are still proving to be top draw. And the recent return of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to the big screen has brought styles and accessories inspired by the pizza-loving amphibians back to store shelves.
Waszek said superheroes continue to be extremely popular.
"Generally every year, it follows the movies, so it jolts everybody's minds into getting into those particular characters," said Waszek, who noted orders are placed in February.
Still, he admits the blockbuster success of the year's top-grossing film "Guardians of the Galaxy" caught him off guard.
"Obviously, characters that recur like Captain America, Spider-Man, you know exactly what those are going to be, how popular they're going to be. But with 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' we had no idea," said Waszek, who said Star-Lord is the most requested character from the film.
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