“HALLOWEEN has taken off massively - now the whole family dress up and have parties.”

At this time of year Darren Reynolds is surrounded by witches, vampires and skeletons - and he loves it.

From babies to adults, he provides fancy dress outfits for everyone, with bats and devils adding to the cauldron of mock-horror. There’s even a giant cockroach, complete with feelers.

“There are so many events at Halloween nowadays. When I was younger we used to have fancy dress parties on New Year’s Eve but now that’s shifted and October 31 is the focus.

“People love the movie themes - we do a lot of outfits from films such as Beetlejuice, Zombies and A Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy Krueger is popular, as well as Michael Myers from Halloween.

“People also like to dress as characters from The Adams Family and other retro horror films and TV series.

“We’ve just got a Covid costume - it looks like a green virus, which will go down well at Halloween.”

He adds: “Kids’ outfits are not as gruesome as the adult ones, but they really want them to be - you would be shocked by what kids ask for. We have had babies and toddlers dressed as Chucky from Child’s Play.”

Darren runs Doody’s Fancy Dress Costumes and, when he is not dishing out grim reaper and psycho killer garb, he spends his days surrounded by pirates, gangsters, hippies, cowboys and superheroes.

He stocks around 6,000 products at his shop in Royds Enterprise Park, Bradford. “We do accessories such as moustaches, teeth, tattoos and glasses, as well as prosthetics.”

Alongside his cousin Jason Ford - who has worked for Darren since 2011 - he caters for just about anything. “In this industry nothing is unusual. We have so many lines but we know where everything is - people are amazed by how we can quickly find something.”

A former menswear and sportswear buyer for Empire Stores, Darren has redundancy to thank for his entry into the fancy dress business. “I did not set out to go into it - I decided I wanted to do something for myself and trialed it by selling different things on eBay,” he says. “Fancy dress began to sell well so I thought I would create a website.”

Doody is Darren’s nickname “and has been since I was 18 months old, so I thought I would use that for the business.”

Different suppliers are licensed to sell different costumes. “Smiffy’s are a large UK supplier and distributor with hundreds of costumes such as Shrek, Where’s Wally, Top Gun and Baywatch characters.

“For superheroes and Disney characters it’s Rubie’s UK, who have characters from Marvel and DC Comics including Batman and Robin, Superman and Spiderman.”

Outfits do not always retain their popularity due to changing times, tastes, and different characters appearing. “A few years ago Little Britain costumes were very popular but now no-one supplies them. It’s not on TV and people move on to other things. Now it’s Peaky Blinders.”

For the first two years Darren ran the company from his home in Clayton Heights, before moving to Royds. It was not long before he needed larger premises, so relocated to another unit on the enterprise park where a purpose-built showroom displays his wacky wares.

Key calendar dates for Darren and Jason include World Book Day in March. “Kids go to school dressed as their favourite book character,” says Darren. “It’s really taken off.”

Special live music weekends at Butlins see men and women seeking outfits from different periods. “It could be a 70’s or 80’s weekend, with tribute acts. People love dressing up.

“They might want to go as John Travolta, Madonna or Michael Jackson.”

Characters from TV and film are always popular. “Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad is in at the moment.”

Donald Trump may not be the US president any longer, but masks and costumes are still very much in vogue at Doody’s, as is his so-called ‘frenemy’ Kim Jong-un.

“No-one seems to bother with Boris,” laughs Darren.

Stag and hen dos are popular all year round. “One customer came and bought 30 costumes, one for each of his guests. And we get people dressing up for sporting events like cricket at Headingley. We’ve had nuns and jockeys.”

Darren enjoys being his own boss. “I also like the fact that when people come in here they are in a happy frame of mind, looking forward to a party.”

Covid has been “disastrous for the fancy dress industry - people were not going to parties, festivals or stag-dos. We are only just starting to recover but I am optimistic for the future.”

As for his own preferred costume, Darren likes so-called ‘carry me costumes’ that look as though you are being carried by someone else - it could be Father Christmas, Sinister Clown from Scooby Doo! or a superhero.

“They are a lot of fun and always raise a few laughs,” he adds.

*doodysfancydress.co.uk T:07900 950275