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the bear






are behind the coolest outfits on your TV right now.

Spirdakis, pilot CD, and Wheeler, CD for episodes 2-8, have done six shows together and seem to have the most fun making the magic you see on screen possible. The pair from FX's breakout series The Bear sat down with Seek to break down your favorite culinary characters, their experiences in the industry, as well as advice for aspiring creatives. 

Read on for the inside story on Carmy's white tees, Sydney's bandanas, Richie's track pants, and the Game of Thrones tip that inspired the *actual* bear.

as told to Sara Klausing  08-19-2022






Seek: Tell us more about your journey with kitchen footwear.

Wheeler: The Beef is based on Cris’ childhood buddy's family, Mr. Beef in Chicago. And we got to be like, okay, what are they wearing day to day? What’s the vibe? And you can see the difference between that world and the world that Carmy and Sydney are coming from. Sydney comes in and changes her footwear. Maybe if Carmy’s rushing out and he’s not thinking about it, like when Richie gets arrested or something like that. Other than that, they’re not leaving the establishment with their kitchen shoes. 

Spiridakis: We wanted to know what else was happening in there. Does anybody wear jewelry? As much as we love jewelry, you have to be careful. You’re cooking. There’s things that you have to be aware of. It was really important to us to use shoes that people would wear in the kitchen. When we went to Mr. Beef, one guy had on Adidas shell toes and somebody else had a generic black kitchen sneaker. The world of kitchen footwear is vast, by the way.

WheelerMarcus wore a different shoe for the pilot than he did for the series because in between the pilot and filming, Lionel (Boyce) went to Copenhagen to learn from a pastry chef there. It’s so believable that Marcus would wear these beat up Jordans. That’s how his t-shirts are too. He might have an Off-White. He might have a Ghetto Gastro. It’s a mix of Chicago, Black owned streetwear, cool kid. Of course, we’ve got the Aimé in there. He’s beat them up already. Now he can wear them to the restaurant.



Seek: People are asking about Carmy’s necklace. 

Spiridakis: The original necklace was a very fine gold figaro chain that Jeremy Allen White himself wore personally that he loved and wanted to bring into Carmy’s costume. It was his everyday wear that we just replicated for the production. 

Wheeler: It was all about going to that mall kiosk. 

Spiridakis: Abby Elliott's necklaces are from Pandora. I have never walked into Pandora in my life. When I had my call with Abby, we decided that Sugar was really into dolphins and turtles. Somebody was like, Sugar and I wear the same necklaces? And it’s this sixteen-year-old goth girl wearing the exact same dolphin necklace as Abby. You go anywhere and everywhere. 

Wheeler: Depending on what we’re doing, there are jewelers in the industry that we would go to. Sydney’s jewelry is a mix of this store in Chicago called Humbolt House that has really good jewelry, as well as Asrai Garden and Catbird. Richie’s cross is from Kay’s!

Behind the scenes costume design for Sugar on FX The Bear on Hulu.

Images courtesy of Hulu and Pandora.



Spiridakis: Rewatch the pilot for fun. This is my favorite moment, when they’re doing the Ballbreaker Tournament and Ebon gives his speech. Watch Jeremy, because Jeremy breaks. There wasn’t a single take because it was the funniest f**king thing you have ever seen. And then you have those lunatics outside. We made all of those costumes. 

Seek: No you did not.

Spiridakis: Crafting is my shit, Sara. 

Wheeler: She loves a craft. 

Spiridakis: We made all of them. We bought a shitty carrot costume and said to our tailor, “Mariann, make this better.” I made that hat. The cyborg – I made that jacket with the heart and I made it light up. The dude in the suit –

Wheeler: My favorite is the dude with a suit!

Spiridakis: We dressed all of those people. The 1980’s guy with the Ballbreakers t-shirt. We had to do all of this cool character work and then we got to make nonsense. Rewatch the scene. It was just so funny and so earnest and convincing. 




Spiridakis: The Bear in the opening scene of the pilot is a costume we built that CGI then augmented. The body was made out of hand-dyed IKEA rugs – an idea I borrowed from Michele Clapton, genius designer for Game of Thrones.

All but the head were handmade and sewn by Austin Pettinger, our ager/dyer on the pilot and Head Tailor for the series.



Spiridakis: This is really the best advice we can give you. Being a production assistant is hard work. It’s physical labor. It’s long hours. It’s very difficult. On the surface, it’s bullshit. You get out of it what you put into it. Ask your designer or your coordinator, “Can I read the scripts?” Pay attention to where the shoppers are shopping. When we buy things, they write down every single thing. Form the relationships with the vendors. 

I would also say take a chance. The summer before my senior year in college, I read an article in Vogue about a woman who was a stylist. I called Vogue and they gave me her home phone number. I’m not telling everybody to quit their f**king job, I’m just saying take a chance. If it’s something that feels good and something that you want to do. We do more by 10 AM than most people accomplish by 5. You move mountains. You bend time. It’s special. And it’s magic. It’s not glamorous. We all have busted feet and busted shoulders. You schlep. If it’s what you love, you will love it forever. 

Wheeler: Form relationships with your designers! The reason why I became assistant costume designer is because I made a really good relationship by working really hard as a PA and then a coordinator. Start at the bottom and work your way up. It’s so helpful to learn what everyone’s job is and what it takes to get the clothes on camera. Starting as a PA is very helpful for that. 


Seek: Tell us more about your process and what is important to you in costume design.

Spiridakis: In general, it is a sustainable approach using as much consignment, resale, thrift as possible. And small businesses. 95% of what we used on High Maintenance was vintage. It completely changed the way I design as a costume designer. It’s harder, you have to make the extra effort. You also have to be mindful. The thing comes from where it comes from. 

Wheeler: When we go to a new place, the most important thing we do is walk around. We go into different shops and introduce ourselves. We want to make these relationships. It’s so much more interesting to shop at these places and to get that complexity of character. It has to feel real. That’s what really matters. Do you believe this character?

Spiridakis: We create characters. That has always been my most basic way to explain it. It’s very contemporary, reality-based street clothes. You do a disservice to your project if you do not talk with your actors, if you do not consult them. They just want to be heard. I think that's the feedback we got back the most. “No one ever asks me, ‘Do I feel good in this?’” That’s what I'd love to leave with.

Wheeler: What do you feel good in? You can tell from the photos. You can tell from how you wear it. That’s so important. One of our favorite compliments is when people tell us, “This is the most fun fitting I've ever had! I love this look.”


Spiridakis: The Bear shot seven episodes in thirty-two days. For anybody who learns that and has made a television show, their eyes will be like this big. Ultimately, I was the costume designer on the pilot. Courtney was the costume designer on episodes 2-8. I don’t think co-costume designer in the future is out of the question because frankly, I don’t know how long I can go without you

Wheeler: It was a perfect show to do. Everyone knows it’s a great show to watch, but it’s also a great show to make. We’ve lucked out to have really awesome showrunners. It was an amazing experience. If anyone wants to hire both of us at the same time, we’d love that.

Spiridakis:  I’m very excited to watch it and see what Courtney does with the show. It’s a new story. You get to take season 2 and it’s all yours. I will miss you, but I’m excited to watch.

Wheeler:  I love how she’s saying she’ll miss me but we’ll definitely see each other in a few days.




Spiridakis: I feel naked without my jewelry. I wear no less than nine rings every day. Asrai Garden (Chicago), Charlotte Greville Designs (Brooklyn), Saint Claude Social Club (New Orleans), Verameat (Brooklyn), Pippin Vintage Jewelry (NYC), and a great consignment shop in NYC, Designer Revival. Any cropped vintage t-shirt. And my Judi Rosen jeans. Beautiful quality jeans that are amazing. Judi’s motto is thick thighs save lives. To say that I am a Judi Rosen enthusiast is the understatement of the decade. She’s really spectacular. The jeans are beautiful. They make everybody’s ass look great. Tightest pants on the planet.

Wheeler: A high waist pair of pants, probably pleated. A big white oversized men’s button front or dress shirt. The one I'm wearing is vintage from Richard’s Fabulous Finds in Chicago. It’s one of the best menswear vintage shops. This is going to sound – Spiridakis: We talked about how this is going to sound – it’s either my Row boots or my Prada backpack.

Seek: I’m leaving the chat, bye!

Spiridakis: She’s had this Prada backpack forever. We literally use it as an opportunity to make the joke from 10 Things I Hate About You. “I like my Sketchers but I love my Prada backpack.” 

Wheeler: “That’s because you don’t have a Prada backpack.” I love it.





Carlos of Knee Deep Vintage 

Natasha of Wild Prairie

Richard of Richard’s Fabulous Finds

Bob of Trash Vintage

Pilsen Vintage

Very Best Vintage

The Shudio

Lost Girls



Humboldt House




Asrai Garden

Birdseye Rule

Una Mae’s


Round Two Chicago

Saint Alfred


RSVP Gallery

Joe Freshgoods 

& Tiger Workshop (Tiger Workshop has since closed unfortunately)

Luxury / High End Streetwear



Thrift/Second Hand

Village Discount


 This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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