Carmy’s white T-shirt and his style on ‘The Bear’ have their own fan base

The hit FX series “The Bear” is about many things: complicated family dynamics, grief, toxic work environments, Chicago, professional obsession, and of course, food. But to some, it’s just a show about clothes set in and around a Chicago restaurant.

The show’s third season has already provided plenty of fodder for style-obsessed viewers. In the premiere episode, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, played by Jeremy Allen White, wears a distressed olive Barbour Ogston jacket in a flashback; later in the season, he sports a cotton deck jacket from the workwear-inspired Ralph Lauren sub-label RRL. J. Crew released a capsule collection — a hat, T-shirt, sweatshirt and work jacket — emblazoned with the logo of the fictional company owned by the show’s Fak brothers, played by Matty Matheson and Ricky Staffieri.

Unlike “Sex and the City,” with Carrie Bradshaw’s Fendi baguettes, and HBO’s “Succession,” with its “ridiculously spacious” Burberry tote, “The Bear” wasn’t conceived with major ties to the fashion world.

“I didn’t expect this, not at all,” said Courtney Wheeler, the show’s costume designer. “Our show isn’t about fashion, like ‘Sex and the City’ or ‘Emily in Paris.’ It’s about how we think the world these characters live in would feel. The fact that people are responding to it is really great, but that wasn’t necessarily our intention.”

But since the series premiered in 2022, some have become obsessed with what the characters wear—particularly lead character Carmy, a wounded but fiery chef who transforms his late brother’s modest Italian beef sandwich shop into a temple to fine dining.

For example, online sleuths have tracked down the exact plain white T-shirt that Mr. White wears throughout all three seasons of the show: the 215 Men’s Wheeled T-shirt from German company Merz b. Schwanen, which retails for about $85. The company, which opened its first U.S. store earlier this year, was unaware the shirt would be featured and experienced a surge in interest that led to the company’s website temporarily crashing.

Likewise, a patchwork wool coat from the cult Danish brand NN07 that Mr. White wore in the first season has since become a fetishized menswear item. Ms. Wheeler recalled that a saleswoman at Bloomingdale’s took it off a mannequin so she could show it off during a fitting, and Mr. White was drawn to it. When it was identified on a Reddit men’s clothing forum, the jacket — a style known as the Gael — was sold out; it has since been restocked twice, both times selling out within 30 minutes, wrote Mikkel Hammershoj, a press representative for NN07.

“I would say there is a very direct effect,” Mr Hammershoj added.

While character and plot are the driving forces behind costume design, it’s not such a leap for fashion to become a leitmotif of “The Bear,” since aesthetics and craftsmanship are high on the fine dining scene, given the profession. “I think Carmy is the type of person who’s always had an itch to get out,” Ms. Wheeler added. “He’s the type of person who looks for quality.”

The cast and creators also seem to be exploring their own styles, including Mr. White, whose personal style has been closely watched and who also recently modeled in a much-discussed Calvin Klein underwear ad; his co-star Ayo Edebiri, who plays Sydney “Syd” Adamu, a red-carpet favorite in part because she has worked with stylist Danielle Goldberg and is currently on the cover of the most recent issue of Vanity Fair; Mr. Matheson, a chef and executive producer on the show who has his own clothing line, Rosa Rugosa; and the show’s creator, Christopher Storer, who has a penchant for Thom Browne and the label Drake’s. “Sometimes I’ll just go into his room and ask a quick question,” Ms. Wheeler said of working with Mr. Storer, “and we’ll end up talking about loafers for 45 minutes.”

Certain fashion items have even become plot points, like a stash of Levi’s jeans from “Big E” that are so valuable that Carmy uses them to pay off a debt, or a Thom Browne-designed chef jacket that Syd is given in a dramatic reveal in the second season.

When asked if she plays more to people who watch the show for the fashion, Ms. Wheeler said, “That’s a little bit true, but we don’t want to force it.”

And while those pieces can provide fodder online, Ms. Wheeler said it was important that the clothes serve the story. “When you’re in a fitting room and you’re trying on clothes, and everything comes together — everything clicks and it starts to feel like a real character — you’re like, Oh yeah, this is it,” she said.

And while menswear fans may still be clamoring, looking for the exact style of pants, T-shirts and outerwear Carmy wears on the show, Ms. Wheeler pointed out one very important detail. “A lot of the stuff you see on TV,” she said, “we custom-made.”

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