Some People Love ‘The Bear’ … for Its Style


The hit FX series “The Bear” is about many things: complicated family dynamics, grief, toxic workplace environments, Chicago, vocational obsession and, of course, food. But for some people, it’s really just a show about clothes set in and around a Chicago restaurant.

The show’s third season has already given plenty of fodder for style-obsessed viewers. In the first episode, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, played by Jeremy Allen White, wears a weathered Barbour Ogston jacket in olive during a flashback; later in the season, he wears a cotton deck jacket from the work-wear-inspired Ralph Lauren sublabel RRL. J. Crew released a capsule collection — a hat, T-shirt, sweatshirt and work-wear jacket — emblazoned with the logo of the fictional business belonging to the Fak brothers from the show, played by Matty Matheson and Ricky Staffieri.

Unlike “Sex and the City,” which had Carrie Bradshaw’s Fendi baguette bags, and “Succession” on HBO that had its “ludicrously capacious” Burberry bag, “The Bear” wasn’t conceived with any major ties to the fashion world.

“I didn’t expect this, not at all,” said Courtney Wheeler, the costume designer on the show. “Our show isn’t outwardly about fashion, like ‘Sex and the City’ or ‘Emily in Paris.’ It’s what we think the world that these characters inhabit would feel like. That people respond to it is really awesome, but it wasn’t necessarily our intention.”

But since the show’s debut in 2022, it has become somewhat of a fixation for some to parse out what the characters are wearing, particularly the main character Carmy, a wounded yet fiery chef who turns his dead brother’s humble Italian beef sandwich shop into a temple of fine dining.

Online sleuths, for example, tracked down the exact plain white T-shirt that Mr. White wears on the show for all three seasons: the 215 men’s loopwheeled T-shirt made by the German company Merz b. Schwanen, which costs about $85. The company, which opened its first U.S. store earlier this year, was unaware the shirt would be featured, and experienced a surge in interest, which led to the company’s website temporarily crashing.

Similarly, a wool jacket with a patchwork design from the cult Danish brand NN07 that Mr. White wore in the first season has since become a fetishized men’s wear item. Ms. Wheeler recalled having a sales associate at Bloomingdale’s take it off a mannequin so that she could present it during a fitting, and Mr. White gravitated toward it. Once it was identified on a Reddit men’s wear forum, the jacket — a style known as the Gael — sold out; it has since been restocked twice, selling out both times within 30 minutes, wrote Mikkel Hammershoj, a press representative for NN07.

“I would say there’s a very direct effect,” Mr. Hammershoj added.

Although character and plot are what drive costume design, fashion becoming a leitmotif of “The Bear” isn’t a stretch, as, by virtue of the profession, aesthetics and craftsmanship rank high in the fine-dining world. “I do think Carmy is the type of person who always had an itch to get out,” Ms. Wheeler added. “He’s the type of person who seeks out quality.”

The cast and creators also seem to be exploring their own styles, including Mr. White, whose personal style has been followed closely and has also recently modeled in a much-talked-about Calvin Klein underwear advertisement; his co-star Ayo Edebiri, who plays Sydney “Syd” Adamu, a red carpet favorite in part because she worked with the stylist Danielle Goldberg and is currently on the cover of the most recent issue of Vanity Fair; Mr. Matheson, a chef and an executive producer on the show who has his own clothing line, Rosa Rugosa; and the show’s creator, Christopher Storer, who has a penchant for Thom Browne and the label Drake’s. “Sometimes I’ll just go up to his room to ask a quick question,” Ms. Wheeler said of working with Mr. Storer, “and we’ll end up spending 45 minutes talking about loafers.”

Certain fashion items have even become plot points, such as a stash of “Big E” Levi’s jeans so valuable that Carmy uses them to pay off a debt, or a Thom Browne-designed chef’s jacket that’s given to Syd in a dramatic reveal in the second season.

When asked if she has been playing more to those who watch the show for the fashion, Ms. Wheeler said: “There’s a little bit of that, but we don’t want to force it.”

And while these pieces may engender online fodder, Ms. Wheeler said the important thing was for the clothes to be in service of the story. “When you’re in a fitting and trying on clothes, and everything comes together — everything clicks and it starts to feel like a real character — that’s where you think, Oh yeah, this one’s it,” she said.

And while men’s wear aficionados may continue to clamor, searching for the exact style of pants, T-shirts and outerwear that Carmy wears on the show, Ms. Wheeler pointed out one very important detail. “A lot of the stuff you see on TV,” she said, “we’ve tailored it.”



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