In the week since the second presidential debate, the pop culture phenomenon of undecided voter Kenneth Bone rose like Icarus toward the sun. He made media appearances, did a Reddit AMA, launched an official T-shirt, and his signature red cable-knit sweater sold out at Kohl's. But it wasn't long before America found out more about Bone than it wanted to know and his wings melted.
His 15 minutes of fame may be coming to a close, but the most notable attempt to capture some secondhand magic of the Ken Bone story is still up and running, courtesy of lingerie brand Yandy: Holiday procrastinators, meet the "Sexy Undecided Voter" Halloween costume.
The Phoenix, Arizona-based company has been in business since 2005, but has become notable in recent years due to its finger-on-the-quickly-dying-pulse reactive costumes—which are always, always of the "sexy" variety. Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, Pizza Rat, and Frozen characters (but without the official name, because trademarks) have all caught public attention. So when Kenneth Bone became an Internet sensation in the waning moments of the debate, the company kicked into high gear.
Making Costumes as Quickly as the Internet Makes Memes
After Sunday night's debate, "we scrambled and got a costume together rather quickly, probably within a half hour or 45 minutes," says Pilar Quintana, Yandy's VP of merchandise. "But we had to get a model in to shoot, so from modeling to getting the images up it was done by Tuesday afternoon." If you're keeping score, that's going from Bone's original question to a live-on-sale costume in less than 48 hours. Pilar says that the company can often spend weeks designing and manufacturing a costume based on a popular cultural topic, but Yandy was able to Franken-Bone this one together from available merchandise and accessories. (Don't worry, election fans: there are Trump- and Clinton-inspired costumes as well.)
Sexy Undecided Voter was perhaps the fastest turnaround for any meme costume Yandy has put up for sale so far.
The window for making a Ken Bone costume available in time to take advantage of the holiday season was small, but that's not always the case for meme or pop-culture-based costumes. Yandy first produced its version of The Dress right after its story went viral in February of last year. "I remember thinking it would be dead by Halloween," says Quintana, "and then all of a sudden right around Halloween it just started flying. We put it into production at least three or four times to keep up with it."
And the company's not opposed to going after higher-brow cultural sensations, either. Yandy has a "Sexy Ali Hamilton" outfit inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster musical Hamilton. Says Quintana, "That costume is $121.95, and we're sold out. It's on request and we have more in production."
Recent years have seen justifiably increasing criticism of revealing Halloween costumes. Kristen Schaal's segment on The Daily Show about the topic from three years ago, which included promo footage from Yandy, still feels timely, but CEO Chad Horstman sees that attention as free publicity. After all, Yandy's thinking goes, the company is primarily a lingerie manufacturer. "I think adding the sexy angle to something like Ken Bone is kind of hysterical," says Quintana. The company's ideal costume customer, in Quintana's words, "wants to be sexy and wants to be funny." With the ability to turn on a dime and get a product based on Kenneth Bone from concept to up-for-sale in 48 hours, it's able to catch up with the news cycle before it spins out.