Outfitting Arrow's Alter Egos: Details From Designer Maya Mani

Damian Holbrook
Arrow-Cosplay
From left: Jack Rowland/The CW; Warner Bros. Entertainment; Dean Buscher/The CW; Warner Bros. Entertainment

When it comes to crime-fighting costumes, they're more than just spandex and saturated colors these days. On Arrow, leathers, straps, and dark hues do more than just set a mood. Form actually meets function when it comes to making sure that each ensemble's details serve a purpose—and that the actors can move. Get the inside scoop on how the original costumes (before some of them change for the upcoming season) were designed for Starling City's heroes.

Arrow (Stephen Amell)

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Stephen Amell as the Arrow

Originally designed by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago), Amell’s leather ensemble may appear to be a series of complicated straps and layers, but it’s actually only a jacket, pants, gloves, and Nike Frees that were adapted into boots for easier stunt work. In Season 2, Mani stayed true to Atwood’s designs while tweaking Oliver’s look as the Arrow: “I put more stretch [panels] into it because I don’t think anyone anticipates James Bamford’s fight choreography!” She worked on a complete overhaul that will be unveiled in Season 4. “It’s a different direction,” Mani teases. “When people see it, it will make total sense." Thankfully, though, viewers don't have to wait until the show returns on October 7 to get a glimpse of the new suit, which has thick shoulder pads and protective arm bands—a photo of it was revealed at this year's Comic-Con.

The Flash (Grant Gustin)

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Grant Gustin as the Flash

Like Amell’s signature suit, Atwood also created Gustin’s scarlet Flash outfit, which had taken a beating by the time Barry faced off with the Reverse-Flash. “At the end of the season, everybody’s suits go in for touch-ups or rebuilds,” Mani says.  Along the way, “minor alterations were made to make it easier to bend all of my extremities,” Gustin says, “but nothing about the look of the suit changed.” Except for one secret tweak: “Around the ninth episode, we stopped gluing the mask to my face and switched to a mask that just slipped on and off with a zipper,” he confesses. “That made me a very happy superhero.” Similar to Arrow, Central City's own superhero will also be getting a suit upgrade for Season 2. Most notably, the lightning bolt emblem on the chest will be white going forward, instead of red. See a photo of the new suit, before the show returns on October 6.

Black Canary (Katie Cassidy)

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Katie Cassidy as the Black Canary

The gloves are a nod to the comic book character’s legendary fishnets. Mani updated Caity Lotz’s Canary getup for Cassidy so that “if Laurel didn’t have the holsters and the mask, she could just be a girl walking down the street.” A badass one, at that. “She had to earn it,” Mani notes of Laurel’s well-deserved transition to superhero in Season 3. “This was not handed to her on a silver platter. She worked very, very hard for it.”Adds the actress: “The best word to describe how I feel when suited up is empowered. Wearing the costume is not only a physical transformation but also an emotional one. A character’s wardrobe is an important part of the process for me.”

Speedy (Willa Holland)

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Willa Holland as Speedy

“Who knew Thea Queen could sew?” jokes Mani (who also created Brandon Routh’s Atom costume and is working on the upcoming spinoff DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). “The idea was that she took Roy’s [Arsenal] costume and reconfigured it, so that’s what I did.” That meant adding a more feminine touch tailored to the petite Holland while maintaining the leather, the shoulder details, and a similar hood. “I like to approach the design of a costume by looking at the iconic lines of the characters,” offers Mani. “They have huge fanbases, and it’s out of respect to those fans that I would put in those details.” Fun fact: In keeping with the Queen family’s apparent footwear of choice, Speedy’s boots are also souped-up Nike Frees.

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