Disney have been masters of clothing merchandise for decades, particularly at their theme parks, but gone are the days when a Disney fan would be happy to leave with just a pair of Mickey or Minnie ears and a Walt Disney World T-shirt. You can still buy classics like this, both online and at the parks, but Disney fans are demanding increasingly creative, wearable and stylish merchandise – and Disney are listening, particularly when it comes to female-focused fashion.
There has always been a rule that adults are not allowed to attend Disney theme parks in costume, which in part lead to the invention of Disneybounding – where fans dress up as a character without actually wearing a full-blown costume. The outfits are meant to represent a “real life” version of the character, without straying into the realms of cosplay.
This year saw the opening of The Dress Shop on Cherry Tree Lane in the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs, which is a Disneybounder’s dream. The Dress Shop sells vintage-style dresses and accessories inspired by Disney characters and park attractions, and when the store was launched, fans caught a glimpse of fashions which paid homage to Minnie Mouse, Snow White, the Haunted Mansion, the Hollywood Tower of Terror and the Enchanted Tiki Room, amongst others. Unfortunately, the dresses are not yet available for purchase online, and they have been selling out so quickly from the store that they cannot be restocked fast enough, leading to a very limited number of styles being available.
The Dress Shop’s full-skirted red polka dot dress is an obvious tribute to Minnie Mouse, but some of the others are more subtle, and it’s this kind of merchandise which seems to have taken off in a huge way recently. Anyone other than a hardcore theme park aficionado would be forgiven for thinking that the Haunted Mansion dress was just made with pretty grey and silver fabric, without recognising the pattern as being lifted directly from the house’s wallpaper.
The Disney store also carries tops and skirts in a monochrome design that at a distance just looks like a floral pattern, it’s only on closer inspection that you can see that the motif features the Haunted Mansion’s graveyards and ghosts.
Disney fans who still want to look smart in the office can buy cute knitwear which gives only a subtle nod to Disney characters, and which a lot of people might miss at first glance, allowing fans who never grew up to still show their Disney allegiance while still masquerading convincingly as an adult.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is a huge array of Disney clothing which could never be accused of being subtle at all, from Ariel bikinis, to Princess picture dresses, Alice in Wonderland all-over prints, and retro tiki-style Lilo and Stitch dresses. If you want to flaunt your status as a Disney nerd, there are literally hundreds of in-your-face fashions to choose from.
Logo T-shirts have always been the easiest item of Disney clothing to find, both inside and outside the theme parks, with many high street fashion chains offering licensed T-shirts featuring Disney characters. Disney has pushed this kind of merchandising to a whole new level, not only with their own Disney Boutique range, but by teaming up with brands such as UNIQLO and Mink Pink to offer a huge range of wearable and fashionable styles which will fit effortlessly into any millennial’s wardrobe.
Disney fans are all ages and can be found in all walks of life, and it feels like the merchandise has finally caught up to that. Whether you want classic Disney style, an ultra-kitsch dress, or something a little more subtle, you will be able to find something to suit your style – without having to resort to a pair of Mickey ears.