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We haven't seen any signs of industry or craft works in the White Walker scenes. So how do they get their armor/clothes and spears?

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Do they make their own? (made using magic? make them in a cottage industry?)

Did they steal them?

Are these hand-me-downs from an ancient age?

Family heirlooms?

Seeing how the TV series doesn't answer this question yet, I will take quotes from the books or comments from George R R Martin.

  • 2
    It's unknown... – Mithoron May 4 '17 at 17:14
  • 4
    "Eighteen hands, the Other thought in frustration as he picked up his icy new longsword, testing the weight. The smith's crystal blue eyes looked downward, counting the severed extremities carefully before they were deposited into a crate. I could swear it was sixteen yesterday." – PlutoThePlanet May 4 '17 at 18:25
  • @PlutoThePlanet Do you have a quote from a canon source for that? If you do, it would make a good answer! – RichS May 4 '17 at 18:39
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    No, I made that up. Seems like it'd make a funny short story. – PlutoThePlanet May 4 '17 at 18:42
  • 3
    Simple - they went shopping. – Gallifreyan May 5 '17 at 13:16
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I won't discuss the fancy armor shown in the TV series because reasons.

But since you have added the books tag and you are okay with it, here goes.

It is simply unknown as of now.

Others, as an intelligent distinct species, are completely shrouded in mystery. Little to nothing is known about them, their origins, their customs or their way of life. They are not like their minions, who use the same armor they were wearing at time of their death. The armor they don is no ordinary armor. Every inch of it screams out "MAGIC".

"Had many talks with George. He told me of the ice swords, and the reflective, camouflaging armor that picks up the images of the things around it like a clear, still pond. He spoke a lot about what they were not, but what they were was harder to put into words."
-Tommy Patterson (Comic book artist for the series)

Also:

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.
AGOT - Prologue

So that proves that their armor is not of human craftsmanship.

Let's take all of the possibilities that you have listed and discuss them one by one.

  1. Do they make their own in an industrial fashion?

    Plausible but extremely unlikely. Others are not known to do that kind of manual labor nor does the Wild North offer such resources to be used as Raw material. Because if that was the case, Wildling realm would have developed craftsmanship on par with the realm South of the wall. But then again, they could be using magic, as you suggested but the key thing to remember about magic in WOIAF is that it's not Harry Potter magic where you just whip out your wand and do it. Every bit of magic requires certain raw objects to work (Such as Dany's sacrifices to give birth to her dragons, Kingsblood concept etc). What exactly would the Others have to make their brand of magic work?

  2. Did they steal them?

    Steal them from whom? The Night's Watch? The Watch doesn't wear the armor like the others do. Nor do any other humans. There's no one else to steal from.

  3. Are they hand-me-downs from another age?

    We do not know. They could have some sort of arsenal intact somewhere in the North, long forgotten since the Battle for Dawn, as were the people who probably built it.

  4. Family Heirlooms?

    What family? We do not know if the Others even have a concept of family or heirlooms or if they could even procreate to build a family.

GRRM is silent on the matter as far as I know. He will probably use his standard response "Keep Reading!" if asked, I am afraid.

In my humble opinion, it may be that it is some sort of magic which requires certain sacrifices to build super weapons (Craster's children giving power to the weapons like Nisa Nisa did to Azor Ahai's sword?). In any case, the canon answer is:

We do not know.

Disappointing but that's what we have so far.

UPDATE: As Skooba kindly pointed out, GRRM has hinted that the Others make their own swords. When asked about their swords:

Ice. But not like regular old ice. The Others can do things with ice that we can't imagine and make substances of it.

  • "Steal them from whom?" Maybe the Others stole them from Children of the Forest or the First Men long ago. I'd believe that perhaps the Children created armor and weapons for the Others before the Others turned against their creators. The show is silent on that topic for now, but I hoped a book would provide a clue. – RichS May 5 '17 at 17:00
  • @RichS Neither First Men nor COTF wore the armor as described above. First men wore bronze armor until Andals arrived with steel. COTF wore shirts of woven leaves and twigs. "Others turned against their creators", that's show-heresy, not book canon. In Books, COTF did not create others. – Aegon May 8 '17 at 6:25
  • I upvoted this answer and will approve it, but it might get contradicted when new books or TV shows are published. If that happens, let's revisit this topic. – RichS May 8 '17 at 15:37
  • Well if it happens in my lifetime (that tWoW is released), I'll update it myself, don't worry :-P I won't be bothered about accounting for show however(given how much has it deviated), you can add your own answer in that regard, I'll certainly upvote it – Aegon May 8 '17 at 19:14
  • Wanna add the GRRM quote that they can make things from the ice? – Skooba Aug 21 '17 at 14:28
2

Michele Clapton was the costume designer for Game of Thrones from Season 1 to Season 5 and won two awards during her time working for the show. In an interview she has said that the idea behind the White Walker's clothing/armour was that they stole them from another civilazation,

And while the White Walkers have an armor of sorts, Clapton told us that it’s all found materials, “part of sculptures and architectures that they reused as armor,” nothing they made themselves. “The idea was that they** maybe discovered an ancient society that was actually very sophisticated**, but the leather bits were all kind of eaten away. That wouldn’t have survived.”
The Cut, Get Excited for Next Season’s Game of Thrones Costumes

As for the weapons well George R. R. Martin has answered that one himself, they are made from ice.

Shaw: Do you know what substance an Other sword is made from.
Martin: Ice. But not like regular old ice. The Others can do things with ice that we can't imagine and make substances of it.
Interview with the Dragon

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