One of my all time favorite things about Game of Thrones are the costumes. The story that designer Michele Clapton tells about each of the characters on screen, by way of their clothing, is remarkable. And some of the pieces, especially for the various weddings, have been mic-drop level showstoppers, from the over the top Purple Wedding outfits, to both of Sansa's wedding gowns. But apparently all that budget spending meant costs were cut elsewhere, as we learned this week that Game of Thrones used Ikea rugs as capes for the Night's Watch.
Now, to be fair, back when Clapton was first outfitting the Night's Watch in Season 1, Game of Thrones was not nearly the budget blockbuster it is today. Season 1 episodes were the days of not being able to afford to stage any sort of battle, so POV character Tyrion was knocked out, so the showrunners had an excuse to skip showing us the Lannisters facing Robb Stark's army. These were the days of not having to afford CGI-ing dragons -- except for the very last few seconds of the first season -- or direwolves, since they were still regular wolf sized.
In these still regular TV budget days, what money there was went to specialty pieces, like the armor for the Knight of Flowers, or for Cersei's dresses to be fabric heavy enough to hide her pregnant belly. (There's a reason she's standing like this with her arms placed just so.)
That left places were are supposed to be low budget worlds rather to cope. And nowhere in Westeros was supposed to look as if they were functioning on a complete lack of budget or resources than Castle Black at the Wall.
Also, unlike, say, King's Landing, which is supposed to look beautiful and dreamlike to hide the rot underneath, those who live at the Wall live simply. Their outfits are...black, thick, and made from animal hides-and-furs.
So Clapton went super budget conscious and got herself some black faux fur and hide rugs, from IKEA. Yes, IKEA. Europe's version of Target, with meatballs.
Not that they are just IKEA rugs. She worked harm on them. As she told the audience at the Getty Museum: "The rugs were cut, shaved, dyed, and then subjected to the rigorous breakdown process that makes them... look as worn-in as real medieval clothes."
“I want the audience to almost smell the costumes. Here they were waxed and frosted so they belonged to the landscape.”
They certainly look the part. So much so no one knew that's what they were for years. But the next time we here the Night's Watch complain about the lack of attention and resources given to arguably the most important garrisons being manned in the war against the Night King, remember that in a show that costs $10 million per episode, they're stuck wearing rugs that might still smell just a little like KÖTTBULLAR Meatballs.