The Costuming Process
© National Arts Centre
Each show has a labour budget and a materials budget. With the materials budget, a rough estimate is made of the amount of money allocated to each costume. The best term to describe this is “creative financing,” as obviously some shows will cost more, and some less. Next, the designer and head of wardrobe begin an exhaustive discussion in which each costume is broken down into its various components. This allows the head of wardrobe to get a sense of the design direction and to establish design priorities or fabric and style options.
Most theatre companies cannot afford to build every item noted in a costume sketch. Therefore, determining which costumes will come from stock, which will be built and which will be purchased retail is an essential part of the budgeting process. Stock refers to the accumulation of costumes from past productions, which are stored for future use. It is common for theatres to use from 20 to 50 percent from their or other theatres stock. Built costumes are costumes cut and custom-made for an actor in a specific production. Purchasing retail is, as the term implies, buying elements such as shirts that may not be available in the wardrobe stock.