Malabar Theatrical Costumes
Malabar Theatrical Costumes is one of Toronto's leading costume stores, and has been around for about a century. Although the renowned establishment offers theatrical costumes year round, their Halloween display is worth seeing. As I make my way up the steps, I am sufficiently amused by their haunted house-like storefront, dressed with tombstones, skeletons, and blood drenched zombies. Adorned with all sorts of Halloween paraphernalia, the actual store is divided into two rooms, with one offering merchandise for sale, and the other offering items for rent. Both offer a generous variety of inventory.
As I browse through the bustling shop (October being the hottest month, of course), a salesman asks me what I'm looking for: glamorous or gory? A no-brainer question for me, I head straight for the gory ensembles. Surely there's no age limit for buying fake blood and fangs. Malabar reassures me of this. With detailed wigs, accessories, and eclectic makeup, I don't quite know where to start.
The character selection is also worth checking out. Although slightly out of my price range, the $180 deluxe Batman masks are tempting (and locally made). Other favourites include the Peewee Herman ($125) and Harry Potter ($68) costumes. In addition to their crème de le crème pieces, they also cater to those looking for more generic (and cheaper) products, with prices starting as low as $15. As I continue to browse, I sift through the categorized racks of costumes, varying from 'around the world' characters, to occupational wear, fantasy & storybook, horror, decades, and so on.
The rental room offers a slightly different spin on costumes, with lavish head to toe ensembles such as medieval pieces, empire dresses, authentic 20's flappers, and detailed costumes from just about every decade. These costumes run a little higher.
While their yearly rental policy provides a 3-day rental period, Halloween is an exception season, allowing consumers to purchase their costumes any time in the season, so long as they have them returned by November 1st.
When they're not Halloween-ing, they also boast their year round costumes, but also their extensive selection of dancewear that's stocked with both clothing and shoes, such as tutus, ballet slippers and leotards.
Photos by Jesse Milns