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Train Spotting: Talking Halloween costumes with the owner of the Garment District

Chris Cassel, the longtime owner of the Garment District, weighs in on selling Halloween costumes — and who buys costumes year round.

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Most of the time, showing up to work dressed like a witty representation of a topical subject, like the Government Shutdown, or your favorite cartoon character will get you fired and probably ostracized from your friends and family. Luckily, the tables turn during Halloween. The Garment District vintage clothing emporium merged with Boston Costume around 2007, making it this town’s one-stop-shopping destination for all threads weird and wacky. (Fun fact: 20 workers spend about 12 hours every year rearranging stock for Halloween shoppers.) We checked in with longtime owner to see Chris Cassel to talk about what’s big in Halloween costumes this year.

What are this year’s trendy Halloween costumes?

Well, it’s not surprising that "Breaking Bad" is doing well. The one sleeper would be the fox from the “What Does The Fox Say?” YouTube video. It’s been hot. I think people look back on the last year and go, “What’s been interesting? What would my pop culture reference be?” Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of people dressing as Miley. Some people think it’s good taste, some people don’t, but people are going to do it. It’s certainly funny.

You don’t sound happy about that.

Hey, I don’t have a problem with it. She is who she is. She’s getting attention. She probably sold a hell of a lot of songs on iTunes. So I think it’s fair game to poke fun at her, or play it however you want. That’s what Halloween’s about. You can express your opinion in a way that you can’t on any other day.

What’s gonna be big after zombies? Pirates? Ninjas?

Well, pirates went through its phase already because of Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a time when it was super disco.

Really? But currently-alive people can remember disco….

What happens, and it’s true at the Garment District year-round, is there’s an echo that goes on. Maybe you’ll look back to a style [that was popular] when you were a kid. Ten or 15 years later, you’re like, “That was awesome!” The ‘80s echoed back. The ‘90s echoed back. I don’t know when it will hit the ‘00s, but there will be a time when people wear trucker hats as a new fashion.

Do drag queens and fan cons keep costume stores in business during the rest of the year?

Well, Easter is big for the costume business. A lot of people go as bunnies, if you can believe that. People dress up for Mardi Gras a lot. Santa is very big. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got drag queens and kings coming in year-round, but smaller holidays keep things going.

 
 
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