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The People Behind 'Sexy Ken Bone' Say They Can Make Any Meme Sexy

We learned what it takes to turn an internet phenomenon into a sexy costume that evokes the internet phenomenon—and how 'Dat Boi' defied the process.
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There have been many historic and unprecedented moments this election season. They're perhaps so historic and unprecedented that I don't need waste a sentence recounting a handful of them. So let's just set them aside and instead focus our attention on one of the less consequential but no less iconic aspects of the 2016 race: the day the "Sexy Undecided Voter" costume dropped.

It was certainly a sign of our times. No less than 48 hours before, an unsure, mustached man in a snug red sweater over an oxford shirt, Ken Bone, had been handed a microphone at the second presidential debate. He instantly went viral for his earnest interest in the candidate's energy policies, and a site called, which focuses on sexy costumes and as well as lingerie, started selling an interpretation of what Bone would look like as an alluring woman. "Capture the hearts of America this Halloween in this Yandy exclusive Sexy Undecided Voter, the most lovable political enthusiast of the 2016 election season!" the description for the costume read. It came with the facial hair, a crop top interpretation of Bone's integral sweater, glasses, and high-waisted pants. ("Microphone not included.")


Read more: Charting the Rise of the 'Sexy' Halloween Costume

When I saw the costume for the first time, I experienced several emotions at once. The first was confusion: I had, maybe naively, never really thought about the market for turning ephemeral memes into a tangible product, neither on the supply nor demand side. The second was a different type of confusion: Why is it sexy? And the third was grave respect: I was in awe of the fact that someone had conceptualized and materialized such a thing so damn fast. So I contacted the minds behind the costume—as well as Sexy Pizza Rat and others—to see how it was done. Over email, Yandy's the VP of merchandising, Pilar Quintana, talked to me about what it takes for a meme to qualify for the sexy Halloween treatment, the Dat Boi costume that almost was, and how the Phoenix, Arizona-based company can churn out physical products at the speed of the internet.

Sexy Donald Trump AKA 'Donna T. Rumpshaker'

BROADLY: Is it someone's specific job to keep an eye out for trending topics to turn into costumes? How do you decide whether or not a meme would be a good costume?
Pilar Quintana: [At Yandy], we all collectively come up with pop culture costume ideas. It is my job as the VP of Merchandising to turn those ideas into reality with the help of our designers in LA. We will typically throw an idea around and talk internally to see if we can turn the meme into a costume and if we can logically come up with a design we go from there.


There seems to be an added layer of complexity here—in terms of turning a meme into a costume—because Yandy specializes in sexy costumes. Can you explain the process for making something that is not sexy (e.g. Ken Bone) into something that is sexy (e.g. sexy Ken Bone)? Have there been any meme costume ideas up for consideration that simply couldn't be made sexy?
We always joke that we can make anything sexy. This year we even made poop sexy with our Sexy Poop Emoji Costume. During Halloween, the name "Yandy" really is synonymous with "sexy costumes," and with years of experience we know how to make a sexy costume out of almost any idea. While we might not make all memes into costumes, if it is something we feel would resonate with our customers and is relevant (and is actually executable), we don't usually have a hard time creating something.

With the Sexy Ken Bone Costume, we came together the morning after the second debate and started brainstorming. We wanted to make the costume not only sexy, but recognizable and actually something that our customers would want to wear. Taking his signature look of the red sweater and mustache, it was natural to transition it into something sexy via a red crop top that shows a little cleavage. We always try to make sure that our meme costumes are first recognizable, second relevant, and third sexy/funny.

Was a sexy Dat Boi costume ever up for consideration?
We've actually tossed the idea around a bit. We were challenged by a third party to come up with a Dat Boi costume and did end up drawing out a sketch but that's about as far as we got. The execution of the unicycle would be a bit tricky, and without it we didn't feel it would be recognizable enough to produce.


The 'Sexy Dat Boi' costume that never was

How long does it take for a costume to go from an idea to a finished product. It seems like the turnaround time is really fast. How do you do it?
For our more viral meme costumes the turnaround is very quick. Relevance is key with these types of things. Because we work with a manufacturer in LA and not overseas we have the ability to turn these around very, very quickly. This is true for our Sexy Ken Bone Costume, which we turned around within less than 48 hours of the debate, and our Sexy Pizza Rat Costume from 2015, which we turned around within a matter of days as well.

I noticed that you still sell a "The Dress" costume. What is the typical longevity of a costume that is based on an internet phenomenon? Was there a demand for the costume this year?
To be honest, I wasn't sure The Dress would even sell last year! The meme happened so early in the year and we put it into production so early I was scared it wouldn't still hold steam come Halloween. I was so wrong! It was actually one of our top-selling items last year, and we had to put it into production several times to keep up with demand. We still sold it this year because we had some inventory left over from last year and it sold surprisingly well. I think the fact that it is so recognizable and easy to wear makes it a popular choice for our shoppers.

I am really impressed with this "Selfie Socialite Costume." Was there any discussion over which filter would be used in the costume to evoke a Snapchat? Why the dog over the flower crown?
Thank you! We're really happy with how that one came out. It was a long process to get this one right, though. We came up with a silhouette that we really liked and we know sells well for us and then started brainstorming the design. Getting the fabric just right was tough. We had to work with two different manufacturers—one to print the design and one to cut and sew the fabric, so that was a bit unusual and more time-consuming than we're used to. As far as the dog filter mask goes, we didn't really consider any other options. It's so iconic and popular with our target demographic that we had to make it work. It can be worn on its own or with the full costume and is recognizable either way.

What was the most popular costume this Halloween? Did you notice any trends this year?
While we like to produce some of the more funny, meme-type costumes our top sellers are often Halloween staples like our Deluxe Dark Angel and Little Red costumes. Our Sexy Ali Hamilton was actually a top seller this year, which was inspired by the hit Broadway show. The long sleek bodysuit of that costume is really making its way as one of our top selling silhouettes.