shiny costume - street performers in Markham

Fashioning Superhero and Street Performer Costumes

This post is a bit of a departure from Street Chic’s usual look-book blog style, but superheroes are people too, and they are very much on-the-street and deserve some recognition for their fashion contributions. Talented people hoping to find success as street performers, or as superheroes must adopt costumes that accommodate their superpowers, but also their outfits must conform to loosely defined fashion principles which are proven to impact human consciousness.

Superheroes Make Their Own Costumes

Peter Parker homemade spiderman suit in movie Homecoming

Peter Parker’s first Spider-Man costume as seen in the movie Homecoming was a little rough around the edges.

Peter Parker’s costume-making episode and his first less-than-professional looking outfits as seen in the recent Spider-Man Homecoming movie was interesting and strangely indicative of the modern costume manufacturing marketplace.  The same spirit of costume making creativity is glimpsed in Kick-Ass in the scenes where Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl were still perfecting their homemade attire.  Costume making scenes transcend the central character’s story in the movie. These stories mirror the frustrations of modern-day performer who cannot find a suitable bodysuit or costume in their city or hometown. They must send measurements online. In the movie, there was a secrecy element, but in reality there are not many businesses who’ll spend any time creating outfits for street performers, or weapon encrusted gadget suits for superheroes. Oftentimes the performers themselves must fashion their own attire, and its with that in mind that we’ve created this post.

Both Marvel and DC Comics Superheroes Costumes are Colour Coded

On one level, bright colours generally represent the forces of good, while darker shades denote an evil orientation and purple suited characters are chaotic or just plain crazy. But more interestingly, truly good superheroes tend to choose the primary colours red, blue, and yellow, (think Superman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man) while villains are relegated to secondary colours green, purple, and orange (Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor). The rule gets confused with characters who borrow from both ends of the spectrum (Magneto, Hulk, Sinestro), but fans would agree these characters do so because they are themselves morally challenged.

Superman made his Costume in the Great Depression

the original superman costumeThe very idea of a super hero or ‘supernatural hero’ shedding clothing to don a power suit really coalesced with Superman’s debut in 1938, and his costume set the gold standard for everything that came after. He had the powerful physique, the logo displayed proudly on his chest, and bright, contrasting colors – form, iconography, color.

Superman originally wore red trunks (that look like modern underwear) outside his pants and this evolved from the circus ‘Strongman’ characters’ costumes of the 1930s, and was adopted by creators to signify strength. The red trunks have shrunk over the years and are now just a red belt worn over a blue body suit. But there were no ‘body suits’ known to man in the great depression. The powder blue suit you see in the photo was originally made of silk or ‘hose’ as it was called when worn by men as leggings. The first such full body ‘jump suit’ appeared years later for paratroopers and civilian parachuting enthusiasts.

Superman didn’t have Spandex Vinyl in the 1930s

Modern street performers have a leg up on the classic superheroes of the 50s, 60s and 70s because they have better materials for their body suits. Spandex World here in Toronto sells stretchy vinyl that will spring back to shape after being pulled in one of two directions. Other Spandex textile isotopes will stretch in all four directions. The two-direction material’s non-elastic plane is handy for shaping parts of the costume where a constricting force would soon become annoying. But the downside of these many new materials is their flammability. They are practically made of oil, and as such no laminates will protect their wearers from these suits’ chemical volatility.

Isabella Hoops Chooses Cotton and Leather for her Fire Show Costumes

Calen Jackson as Pyromeo Isabella Hoops EntertainmentNight time costumes created for the Northfire show are made of cotton or leather as they are the least flammable material.” Isabella Hoops jugglers and acrobats are well known throughout Southern Ontario Festivals in part because of their distinctive costumes. “These are hand wash only, and their stitching and materials are inspected before every show.”

When this author asked, “Where did you get your costumes?’, Isabella Hoops replied, “All of the Spin Starlet costumes are made by Jessica Mary Clayton, a girl in our group. The Snowflake Kid’s costume(s) was made by my costume designer Missy Westgate of Faery Tale Designs. She is amazing and has been such a great help.”

Isabella went on to scold this author when asked about an online source for costumes, “You cannot shop online for street performer’s costumes! You wouldn’t want people to have the same costume as you would you? All of our costumes are 100% unique, and most were custom made for the character. Some outfits cost less than $100 to create, while others cost us $250 and more, it depends on the finishing.” And by that she means the level of quality and whether or not the suit was made to last, or was just created for one or two appearances at a theme show.Isabella Hoops street performer at Snaokflake Kid at markham festival of lights 2017

The recent Toronto Guardian article, Street Performers Ignite 2017 Markham Festival of Lights shows Isabella Hoops as the Snowflake Kid working her hula hoops and then returning in a black cotton bodysuit to join the cast performing their acrobatic Fire Show. Pyromeo is the male lead in the show, and he wears a commanding black leather commode with a double-breasted suit jacket vest underneath.

You can however buy costume components online

Here are the parts and pieces of a famous costume that come up as Suggestions in Amazon if you buy a specific pair of red cotton long underwear that has web-like lines printed across its surface. The same suggestions arise if you buy ‘Steam-punk’ welding goggles.

Spiderman costume component sold online at Amazon
More interesting are the gadgets available today. Wireless phone headsets used by office receptionists can be concealed inside headgear and used to send and receive communications that would astound yesterday’s superheroes, and of course these can also be used to give great advantage to street performers and sports mascots entertaining crowds.

Monster Muffin Clothing for Roller Derby Girls and Wrestlers

Monster Muffin - roller derby costumes in Toronto

Designer Lori Peltonen aka Monster Muffin or ‘Muffy’ is a product of Fashion Design at George Brown College in Toronto.  She’s a fashion designer turned roller derby star and so of course she makes costumes for her team and many other players.

Monster Muffin - Roller Derby costume

Monster Muffin skates with Team Ontario and Toronto Roller Derby All-Stars.

Monster Muffin Clothing and Lori Peltonen herself made quite a few appearances at 2016 Hogtown Wrestling matches in Toronto where her suits were worn by several athletes in the ring.  In every match Lori watched her homemade garments carefully to see how they performed.  In August 2017, the Hogtown Wrestling league was bought or otherwise acquired by Demand Lucha and now Lori is actively working with many of these wrestlers who are unique for having colourful Spandex suits with matching headgear. Lucha wrestlers commonly wear masks which adds another element to the design mix.

3D Printing at My3DAgency Tests Homemade Superhero Suits!

superhero suits 3D printing at My3D agencyGet your superhero costume 3D printed for the perfect design and aesthetic testing before appearing in the suit, or even making the darn thing.   In a the superheroes section of the My3DAgency website the copy reads, Using the latest in 3D printing technology, our site will allow you to 3D print yourself on a selected superhero body – all we need are photos and your body style preference. 3D printing is also known in many industries as rapid prototyping and that ‘s exactly what you’re doing when making an action figure wearing a neoprene jumpsuit.