‘Game of Thrones’: Jon Snow’s Night’s Watch Cape Is an IKEA DIY

The look of Jon Snow is what made the character so popular on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not that any of this was always easy for Kit Harington, especially keeping his long hair managed for a decade, including filming in freezing on-set conditions.

After showing up to his audition with a black eye besides, it seems Harington was into creating his own look for his character. Bringing a little of one’s own self to these roles makes a big difference toward truly inhabiting the part.

To complete the look of Jon Snow, the costume department turned to some overly practical things. It turns out his Night’s Watch cape was something right out of the real world.

Costume choices on the cheap for ‘Game of Thrones’

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According to Mental Floss, the costumers for Game of Thrones (headed by Michele Clapton) used some considerable creativity to cut down on the budget. Even though the show was one of the most expensive anyway, the expenses might have been more tremendous if turning to expensive costume materials.

Rather than do all the work herself, Clapton hired out nearly 100 costumers to impart their own creativity on the things the characters would wear. The famous Night’s Watch cape Jon Snow wore looked unique, if made of something overly simple.

Costumers ultimately went to IKEA and bought some of latter’s sheepskin rugs. From there, the team made capes out of the IKEA rug fabrics.

Later, Clapton admitted most of the costumes were created with much simpler ingenuity than anyone thought possible. Perhaps other big-budget shows should take heed.

How was the Night’s Watch cape made to look expensive?

According to Clapton above, she said the costumers would buy the IKEA rugs, shave them down, then added “strong leather straps”. Adding this one little touch obviously made them look more expensive than they appeared.

If one looks at the price of an average IKEA rug, many of them run well under $100. Yes, this sounds like bottom of the barrel for a budget in a high-end costume department. Yet, it might have set a new precedent for what one can create with the simplest of materials, including adding a slight accessory.

IKEA never hesitated to jump on this opportunity when the rug story got out to the media. No doubt it helped sales when IKEA posted their own instructions on how to turn their rugs into a cape similar to the one Jon Snow used.

Since that time, it might be worth wondering how many capes out there are IKEA rugs rather than actual foot rugs.

‘Game of Thrones’ was never beneath using other practical sources

Kit Harington
Kit Harington as Jon Snow | HBO

The above capes were not the only thing made with ordinary items. In many cases, the costume or prop department would use modern materials to design things made to look like steel.

Many of the swords were made of aluminum rather than steel to cut down on costs. There was also a concerted effort to buy things hand-made, requiring some outsourcing.

For many of the medieval costumes, the Game of Thrones production team turned to a company in India that focuses on making medieval gear by hand. Many production companies needing medieval costumes turn to this company (Lord of Battles), but Game of Thrones put them on the map.

If some might look down at the idea of outsourcing to find practical sources for costumes, Game of Thrones needed some practicality to not make their budget balloon out of control. As already the most expensive TV show ever produced, knowing they were never above going cheap should open the doors to every TV/movie production being resourceful.