The NBC series Superstore playfully adds flavor through the array of costumes depicted throughout Season 4 as costume designer Alix Hester supplants dimensionality within each episode. As the seasons progressed, the understanding of the characters grows to provide depth in the clothes they wear to reflect their personalities and lives.
The stand out episode entitled “Costume Competition” showcases the creativity explored as numerous costumes were displayed through the ensemble cast. Hester elaborated, “The pieces used for Amy’s (America Ferrera) Mario costume, those big yellow buttons can come from a store like JOANN’s as that fabric is easily accessible. Dina’s (Lauren Ash) reference about her police cop uniform is that she wears it until it shreds and we adapted that to fit her pregnant belly. The most complicated is always Jonah’s (Ben Feldman) costume because there’s always a joke or some political satire, it’s hard to figure out how to manifest that into an actual garment. We ended up hand painting Jonah’s t-shirt. In my mind Mateo (Nico Santos) would have gone to a vintage store and found a 1960s suit and then attached the birds. We sourced the fabric, tried to match the original as closely as possible, created the suit, then we custom built that belt. It was also fun to do the contrast between his original costume which was so simple and then when he really jumps in to embrace the competition.
I spent a lot of time shopping at vintage stores for Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) to get little pieces that fill in the details, such as earrings, jewelry, and fun stacked heel shoes. There’s the real normal hula costume in the beginning with the vintage Hawaiian shirts and then we just cut everything really short and added a lot of little details to make it sexier. Garrett’s (Colton Dunn) costume was also a hand painted Superman t-shirt with a worn suit because we have to be careful about legal clearances. The tie is rigged with wire so it can be shaped in whatever pose we want. We ended up getting regular long pants, cut them off, and turned them into their shorts for Glenn’s (Mark McKinney) mailman costume. The mail bag was made a little bit smaller which adds a childlike quality to his costumes. Justine (Kelly Schumann) was in the chili pepper costume and Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi) as the back of the horse, which we got both of those costumes online.”
Besides the Halloween episode, other interesting design choices came from a number of other episodes. “Episode 402 where Dina’s doing all the photographs for her different Christmas cards such as the Virgin Mary, the sexy Santa, then the final angel costume. The Quinceanera episode was really lovely to dress everybody up because normally they’re just in their average khakis, shirts, and their vests. For Easter we had the Easter Bunny, on Valentine’s Day we got to do this whole barbershop quartet where we made these vests out of heart fabric,” added the costume designer.
Ultimately every costume design choice is to support the wonderful characters and be an extension of their persona. Hester concluded, “The whole goal is to try to tell the story about these people that reflect all of us and whats so great is you can really find yourself somewhere in the show. What’s really important to me with all the costumes is that they feel realistic in the sense that the characters from the store could have actually gotten them in real life or created them at home. I just try to grab on to whatever they’re doing and exaggerate it, reflect in the clothes or their costume choices, and try to think about how they would have figured out how to manifest whatever costume it was that they were trying to do. I try to get in the characters’ mind.”
Hester has worked on all four seasons of Superstore (66 episodes) as well as the TBS series Sullivan & Son (30 episodes) prior to the show. She has previously won the Drama Logue Award and the Ovation Award for Best Costume Design in the Theatre category.