The Time-Traveling Show "Kindred" Is Filled With Both Time-Period And Modern Costumes — Here's How It All Came Together

    Creating costumes to portray 19th century and modern times was one of the many challenges the costume team faced.

    The time-traveling FX miniseries Kindred premiered on Hulu last week. The series is based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 science fiction and contemporary romance novel of the same name.

    Dana standing next to a man in the 19th century

    The eight-episode season brings viewers back and forth between the 19th and 21st centuries — which in turn means there is a ton of time-period and modern costumes throughout the season, thanks to the show's costume designer Jaclyn Banner and her team.

    Jaclyn discussing costuming with another person

    We spoke to Jaclyn about all things Kindred and what went on behind the scenes with creating the show's costumes — including how she made over 100 muslin dresses for women in the show, the challenges of staying true to the time period, and more.

    A closeup of a dress used in the show on a mannequin

    1. Jaclyn and her team made over 100 muslin dresses for the enslaved women in the show — but they had to make sure they looked authentic while being comfortable and lightweight for filming in a hot climate.

    "So all of that was taken into consideration when we were building these dresses. We did one [version] for the winter and then we did one for the summer — different silhouettes. The summer dress was slightly more of a teal blue, whereas the winter dress was more of an indigo, like a true blue," she continued.

    2. In fact, Jaclyn and her team spent a lot of time finding the right shade of blue for the muslin dresses that not only complemented each actor's skin tone but also worked well with the set design.

    Three muslin dresses with aprons lined up

    3. A lot of the time period costumes that were white didn't translate well on camera.

    A man wearing a white shirt that is not actually as white as it appears on-camera

    "So I did test different white linens in different cool and warm tones. I had to say, ‘Hey, they wore white shirts. I can't get around that, that was true to the time period, they didn't have color shirts so they have to be white.’ But we can't use true white, it has to be an off-white that we can use on camera. Every episode was normally shot by a different director. And sometimes the director brings in a different DP. So I would have to do tests for all the DPs," Jaclyn said.

    "So that was one of the things that was a huge challenge for this project. Because one DP wants one kind of tone, another DP wants another kind of tone. And for some reason, they just kept reading white, but we can see the shirt in person and it's kind of like a beige, dingy white. Yet, on camera, it was appearing [stark] white, so that was definitely something that was very problematic for us."

    4. Jaclyn had to do specific camera tests for some of the fabrics that were true to the 19th century time period so they showed up well on camera too.

    5. Ryan Kwanten — who plays Tom Weylin in the show — thought of a specific element that should be part of his character's costume.

    Ryan as Tom leaning against a desk with an arrow pointing at his ring

    "I was like, 'Oh, that's a great idea. It can be like an heirloom.' In the show, he was married to someone else prior to getting married to Margaret. And that's who he really loved. So we thought, ‘Well, maybe it's a ring that maybe she gifted to him,’ or ‘Maybe it's a family heirloom because he kind of married into her money. And then Margaret married into his money.' So I got with the prop department and was like, 'Let's team up, let's get this ring made.' So we had them draw the family crest that we put onto the ring that he wore. So that was something that was definitely a collaborative effort," she said.

    A closeup of the ring on Tom's pinky finger

    6. The theme of Dana's costumes throughout the show was survival.

    Dana wearing a muslin dress in the 19th century as she stands next to a man on the left, and Dana wearing a cardigan during the 21st century on the right

    "It's referenced in the book and in the series that Dana was dressed like a man, but that doesn't mean that she's in men's clothing. I didn't put her in men's clothing, but she was wearing pants. Women didn't wear pants during that time — only men did. And she was in a button-front shirt. So the modern costumes had to be something that didn't make her stick out too much. We did about five fittings for Dana before we actually got it right," she said.

    Dana wearing a button-front shirt

    7. Margaret purposely wore light colors to portray her softer side.

    Margaret wearing a dress of a light color as she stands outside next to Tom

    8. Jaclyn and her team felt pressure to stay true to the time period, since it's one that hasn't really been portrayed on TV that often.

    Have you watched Kindred yet? If so, what were your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comments below!