Hulu recently premiered a new original series called Reboot, a story that follows an early 2000s family sitcom that has been rebooted and the dysfunctional cast that must come back together while dealing with unresolved issues in today’s fast-changing world. Costume designer Reiko Schoenfeld joined this project with a wealth of knowledge having been the costume designer for the famous American sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. I spoke with Reiko about her approach to costuming Reboot, working with the star-studded cast, authenticity, and sustainability.
Spencer Williams: Welcome to The Art of Costume, Reiko! First, I just want to say congratulations on Reboot. It looks like a fun, hilarious adventure! I am guessing you had a good time on this show?
Reiko Schoenfeld: Thank you! Absolutely, the best!! Our cast is amazingly kind, and our producers are open and caring. It was truly a wonderfully collaborative experience.
Spencer: I am so happy to hear it! This show is interesting because you had to put the main characters in costumes from the early 2000s and going up to 2022. What sort of research did you do in preparation for Reboot.
Reiko: Great question, Spencer! My team and I brainstormed our favorite sitcoms from that time period. We researched looks from those characters and did vision boards of all our favorite looks. Some of the trends that were present in the early 2000s are actually making a comeback, so between thrifting, vintage shopping and costume houses, we were able to re-create that era!
Spencer: You had to create looks that told unique stories for each of the characters. For example, there are some science-fiction looks I am very excited to see. One character seems to be a hilarious character actor. And another… *cough Johnny Knoxville* seems to have had some prior run-ins with the law. What can we expect from your costumes in Reboot?
Reiko: You will see a specific fashion sense on each character. It was very important for us to build these characters with authenticity to their stories, helping them feel their characters and giving the audience a clear picture of who each actor is. You can expect an eclectic mix of current fashion, high-end pieces, vegan brands and female-owned brands on Judy (Judy Greer). On Johnny (Johnny Knoxville) we focused on vintage finds mixing in classic cuts from Levi’s and worn in flannels. We wanted his vibe to be cool, bright, comfortable and real. Keegan’s (Keegan-Michael Key) is classic, well-tailored, New York-based style vs LA-based style, with layers and a lot of amazing sweaters.
Spencer: From 2011-2014, you were the costume designer on one of television’s most famous sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother. Did your experience working on this show inform your process on Reboot, a show about a popular sitcom?
Reiko: Having the good fortune of working on How I Met Your Mother for the entire run of the series, definitely helped in understanding what Steve Levitan’s vision was for bringing Step Right Up to life in the authentic manner in which he wanted. Having lived that classic sitcom life for almost 10 years was a magical time for us on How I Met Your Mother, and being able to share in that experience for Reboot was beyond helpful!
Spencer: Such a brilliant legacy you carry with you onto this show! On Reboot, you worked with some really incredible actors and actresses on this show, such as Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, and one of my favorites, Johnny Knoxville. What was your collaboration like with the cast members of Reboot?
Reiko: Thank you for asking this, Spencer! I look at my job as a collaborative team. I want everyone comfortable and happy no matter what. That includes my producers and my actors. I always have open dialogue and want to make sure everyone is heard and feels confident in what they end up in. I feel so fortunate to have the open relationship I do with Judy, Keegan and Johnny. We all jive with their looks on the show, and all have fun while discussing and fitting styles!
Spencer: I always love to hear about a happy on-set collaboration! You seemed to have also brought a level of authenticity to the costumes and characters of this show, from the main cast to the background actors walking around the TV studio backlot in the show. Was making this show feel authentic and real a priority of yours?
Reiko: This was our main priority. Truly. Steve wanted Reboot to be the most authentic representation of the Fox lot possible, to really show what the show behind the show entails. Everyone from the background to the crew members. We have an entire trailer for the background actors to dress them head to toe in all different genres and costumes. We really wanted to tell a story through the clothing, whether it be Keegan moving back to LA from New York, Johnny living a tough life and coming out on the other side or Judy, moving back to the states after marrying the Prince. Anything we can do with costumes to help tell Steve’s story is what we are here to do.
Spencer: With that, I’ve been talking a lot with designers about sustainability in costumes. What can costume designers and their teams do to make costume design a sustainable industry?
Reiko: We most definitely utilize costume Houses on a daily basis. Shooting on the Fox lot, we are fortunate enough to have Fox Costumes and Wardrobes in building 99 right there at our fingertips. It’s a fabulous resource for us, especially when we need last-minute things. With Johnny’s character especially, we found some great tiny vintage shops, cool private vintage companies and went to flea markets on weekends to source one-of-a-kind gems. So fun for us. 🙂 As a whole, I personally try to use brands that are eco-conscious, give back to the community in some way, or source their materials through new and earth-friendly outlets. It’s a current issue that we as costumers feel a closeness to, and try our best to be aware of how we can help in any way, shape or form.
Spencer: Reiko, thank you so much for joining me! This show is such a joy and I loved talking with you.
Reiko: Thank you Spencer!