In a rare opportunity, the Asian Couture Federation was granted unique access to the Costume Department at Disney, Orlando. Arriving at the low-key facilities covering hundreds of thousands of square feet, the ACF Executive Board and Management was given a guided tour of the 'magic kingdom' of Disney's vast costume facilities. This sartorial nerve center oversees the development, production and distribution of the plethora of costumes and uniforms which are an integral part of the Disney experience. In particular, the department focuses on the looks for the iconic Disney characters, the many entertainers who perform and engage with the guests, as well as uniforms from housekeeping to 'cast members' (Disney employees) who work tirelessly on the many rides at the parks. Handling thousands of SKU's (Stock Keeping Units) and receiving and sending out millions of pieces each year this is a gargantuan operation.
However, what few people may realise is the level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into creating the costumes. As one sign on the wall put it "Quality is attention to detail and it shows in every stitch" and this is certainly true here. Numerous workshops, rooms and vast spaces are dedicated to true artisans who work to create designs, patterns and final pieces. Many costumes require truly innovative thinking as well as groundbreaking technology in fabrics and even 3-D printing techniques. Fabrics need to be durable, lightweight, and above all practical. Extensive research is undertaken to ensure cultural accuracy, and state of the art graphics software helps designers to understand how costumes, especially for entertainers will work in practice. Highly skilled craftspeople stitch, apply, and embellish surrounded by thousands of samples of fabrics, zippers, and threads.
An Aladdin's cave of Disney creations, there are sample pieces of every current costume as a reference library, and rows and rows of every conceivable character. Above all, the passion, love and commitment that run through the facility are palpable as is the sense of fun. The ACF was truly honoured and privileged to have gained such first hand insight, and left inspired and impressed at the dedication. As another sign so aptly said, "The quality you put in the product is what helps make the magic."