Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Fancy Dress for Fun and Profit

It’s 12 years since our last look at the world of fancy dress in the 1930s. The modern consumer is totally compliant with the strategies of the high priests of the branding industry and more than willing to clothe themselves in garments that are designed to publicise the brand name of their designer and extend their reach in the marketplace. Many of the fancy dress costumes in this catalogue had a similar ambition to personify the brand in a public place with wearable advertising. Party goers could pledge allegiance to their favourite product and be seen as ‘influencers’ in the battle for market supremacy. OK Sauce and Ovaltine, Maclean’s Toothpaste and Anchor Butter, could fight it out on the dance floor or at the cocktail bar. The Man from Mars, Syncopated Sue, Fluffy Ruffles, Percy the Penguin, Mephistopheles and Lucifer would make up the numbers. Today’s fancy dress industry is divided between those who are licensed to market costumes with movie tie-ins (where Disney and super-heroes dominate) and the rest who have to depend on their own ingenuity and observation of market trends. Whatever the pedigree, they are most likely made in China. Halloween is the best night of the year for business but the British appetite for mindless distraction means there a few events in the calendar that don’t represent an opportunity. For anyone who cares, there is an expert analysis of the industry to be seen here – yours for only £350.

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