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E-retailers try to cash in on debate attendee Ken Bone’s 15 minutes of fame

October 13, 2016 04:05 PM
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A balding, undecided voter wearing a red cable-knit quarter-zip sweater became a viral social media sensation during Sunday night’s second presidential debate in St. Louis.

Now, e-retailers, brands—and the man himself—are looking to cash in on Ken Bone’s 15 minutes of fame.

Bone, a 34-year-old Belleville, Ill., resident, asked the second-to-last question during Sunday night’s debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republic nominee Donald Trump. Bone’s distinct look—glasses and a brown mustache combined with that red sweater—inspired many on social media to consider dressing as Bone for Halloween.

Online lingerie retailer Yandy.com rush to get a “sexy undecided voter” costume modeled after Bone’s debate wardrobe up for sale on its site by Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Bone soared to internet fame.

“We moved extremely fast on this one,” Yandy.com CEO Chad Horstman said Thursday. “We had the costume designed Monday afternoon and on the site for purchase on Tuesday.”

Yandy’s version takes liberties with what Bone was actually wearing on Sunday night, however. Yandy’s costume, which retails for $99.95 and sold out of its small initial run within four hours, features a low-cut red crop top instead of the quarter-zip cable knit sweater that Bone wore. But the costume comes with a fake mustache, glasses and a microphone.

Horstman says Yandy.com knew it had to move quickly to capitalize on the viral nature of Bone’s debate ensemble.

“Ken Bone was everywhere following the debate and because his look is so iconic and recognizable we were able to come up with something quickly that is also fun and fashionable,” he says. “We decided Monday morning that it was something we needed to do and by Tuesday it was photographed on a model and live on our site.”

Horstman didn’t specify the number of costumes produced for the initial run, but says the company is working overtime to get more of the costume to keep up with demand, which “we should have (more) available for purchase very soon.”

Yandy.com isn’t the only brand trying to leverage Bone’s 15 minutes of fame.

Men’s magazine GQ reported the red sweater made by IZOD that Bone was wearing at the debate had sold out on Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide) within 12 hours of his appearance during the debate.

IZOD tweeted out a link to Kohl’s Corp.’s (No. 19) website, where the sweater was for sale. Online men’s apparel retailer Bonobos, No. 245 in the Top 500, tweeted that it makes and sells a similar sweater and offered to send one to Bone. Bonobos could not be reached for comment.

Bone told reporters he bought the sweater at a Kohl’s store in Wausau, Wis. Kohl’s, which does sell a similar sweater online, has not incorporated Bone’s popularity or the sweater into any of its online promotions, nor has it featured the sweater on its home page. Kohl’s did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Bone is the second Kohl’s shopper to go viral this year. A Texas woman and “Star Wars” fan,  Candace Payne, became a viral sensation in May after filming a Facebook Live video of herself wearing a Chewbacca mask she bought at Kohl’s and laughing hysterically. Payne’s video has more than 161 million views to date.

Bone himself is selling an official t-shirt and sweatshirt online through custom apparel e-retailer Represent.com featuring an artful rendition of his likeness and his last name.

 

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