Western Costume Company

Location: North Hollywood, CA

Founded: 1912

Website: http://www.westerncostume.com/wp/home

Traveler and trader L.L. Burns founded Western Costume Co. after a run-in with a cowboy actor, William S. Hart. Burns observed the terribly inaccurate Indian costumes worn by actors in the early Western films, and when passing by Hart’s set, he made the filmmakers aware of his protest. Burns was hired on the spot to outfit the cast—he had accumulated a vast inventory of Native American goods—and the costume shop was born.

Notable Products

  • Custom shoes
  • Fabric and trim store
  • Men’s tailoring
  • Millinery
  • Research library
  • Rental facilities

What to Expect

Not just the oldest film and television costume shop in town, Western Costume Co. actually predates every other film industry business still in operation in Hollywood. The company’s history is a long and illustrious one; early work includes all of Charlie Chaplin’s films. There are too many classics to name them all on the list of Western’s credits, but a few highlights include Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, The Godfather, Titanic, Rebecca, and Some Like It Hot. Recent work includes Dexter, Mad Men, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The shop has also contributed to theatrical stage productions for Cirque du Soleil, the American Conservatory Theatre, and the Geffen Playhouse.

Located in North Hollywood, the Western Costume warehouse occupies more than 120,000 square feet. Facilities include design offices, fitting rooms, laundry rooms, prep and wrapping rooms, as well as space for costume construction, manufacturing, and dyeing. The shop boasts the world’s largest costume research library, compiled over nearly a hundred years. Additionally, there is a retail supply store stocking everything from pins to steam irons. Over the years, Western has constructed or acquired a vast inventory of one-of-a-kind garments, couture dresses, vintage styles, and modern ready-to-wear items. In 2000, the company purchased the legendary costumer Dorothy Weaver’s collection of 40,000 vintage costumes, and is also the owner of the Dykeman-Young collection, comprising an estimated 50,000 items.

Western Costume Co. typically employs fewer than 60 people at any given time, depending on demand and project volume. Among the positions that exist within the shop are tailors, milliners, seamstress, operations manager, researcher, cobbler, customer service assistants, and supervisors overseeing special collections, the supply store, and client relations. A college degree in film production or costume design is not a requirement, though individuals without a formal education in their craft should have at least three to five years of professional experience in costuming and wardrobe. The typical attire is casual to business casual, depending on your work area. The shop is a busy one, so staffers must work efficiently and steadily, with ramp-ups toward deadlines. However, the vibe is generally a fun and energetic one.


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