I have an amusing experience to share xD.

Miyuki Animation Club Cosplay Event, December 2002

I was around this area recently and decided to check out a nearby cosplay shop. Had been toying with the idea of possibly buying or renting a costume that I've been wanting to cos since 2006. And so I thought I'd check things out a bit. Friend and I went into the shop, found the costume I wanted, asked the questions i needed and turned our back to leave when the shop assistants started talking loudly behind us. 

SA 1: Eh...who are they? (referring to friend and myself) ... new cosplayers?
SA 2:
Em yeah, newbies.    





Am I the only one who is amused? Don't get me wrong, I'm totally alright with them thinking I'm a newbie. Or rather, as with my usual style, I don't really care. I’m probably reading too much into it but ,what's with the labeling and categorizing?


If I were really a newcomer, I'd probably feel a little upset to hear that. Feels like before I'm even in the hobby I'm already being labeled and judged. And is it just me or are they kind of unprofessional to be discussing about their prospective customers like they can't hear them?

Oh well, I guess it makes for an interesting experience and a nice opening for the topic today; bots.
Bots = Bought Off The Shelves (costumes)

Cosfest 2003

As everyone knows, I make my own costumes. Eh, okay, on second thoughts... I don't think everyone knows. People are always asking where I bought my costumes, telling me I must have bought it at so and so shop or commenting how I'm just wearing store bought costumes.

 Feb 2007 

*rolls eye*

Well, I've been doing my own costume from scratch since the beginning. Mostly because I enjoy dressmaking and facing new challenges.  I enjoy scouring for the most suitable fabric and material and I enjoy dissecting and designing my costume to best suit my body type. Even though it was always with a very 'Tsundere' kind of attitude haha. I'm forever going "why the fu*k am I sewing/doing this??!!!?" . Haha! 

Of course, then there’s the money issue. The amount I can save from doing my own costume can be pretty substantial. But one of the biggest reason might be the fact that when I first started cosplay, nothing was available so everyone had to do their own costumes from scratch. And in the process, acquiring the skills and getting accustomed to it.

cosfest 2003
But recently, with the surge in easily accessible and cheap china costumes and wig. Things have changed (OMG I feel like an artifact x.x) Cosplay and Animanga is a fast moving community. The needs and wants of the consumer are quick to be answered.

With the growing of life commitments like work, life, etc etc... I'm finding it harder and harder to dedicate time to costuming. And the expansion of my fandom also meant I wanna cosplay more! Yes, I still enjoy cosplaying but my lack of time doesn't permit me to churn out costumes like there’s no tomorrow. Which is why I'm looking at bots or tailored costumes.


15thjul07_-_Cosfest 061  
Cosfest 2007

The convenience of bots means I can dedicate more time to other stuffs (like TCC ,  Cosplay props or my own life) instead of slaving over my costume. Which, nobody cares or knows I made it anyway x.x
A cosplay friend was lamenting to me long ago how she felt nobody seemed to care about costumes anymore. How it is all becoming some sort of beauty pageant and everyone is just looking at the face and photographs only. And I have to agree with her.

SOYA 2009

I mean yes, due to the nature of the hobby, cosplay IS a very aesthetically influenced hobby. How you eventually looked is the most important thing. And to look like a bijin/bishounen 2D character meant you have to become a bijin/bishounen yourself. Which honestly speaking...is difficult.      

P104018151 Cosfest 2008 and Cosfest 2009

Personally, I think there is a balance to be had with regards to doing your costume yourself and paying someone else for it.


What do you guys think about this?  


Echan said…
hmmm....I make my own costumes too, and I enjoy making them, but yeah sometimes I have the feeling "I want to cosplay that character right now!" and I know I wont' have time to make the costume for a year or two and by then I might not be into the series as much. Getting a costume tailored here is too expensive for me though (even though to be honest I usually wind up spending a lot of money on my own costumes as well =_= )

The costume is important but there's a lot that goes into a good cosplay beyond just the clothes...props, attitude, good photography are all very important as well.

As long as you're honest about where you got the costume (a friend of mine had a big problem with a girl in his group last year who purchased a costume and passed it off as her own for a craftsmanship contest >_< ) then I think it's really up to you! Whatever makes it fun! >w<
Soh said…
I love how they thought you were a newbie. I get mistaken as a newbie too!! It's okay, it means we look young mah hahahahahahaha. *comforts herself needlessly*

I've never really tried bots, because like you said, I come from a time when there was no such thing, even stuff like wigs or coloured contacts or *shock* makeup were a rarity in the local cosplay scene. *randomly, hey kenshin cosplay in 2002! I was in your team!* And when you learn how to make costumes by yourself, dissecting them and then planning and making them (I used to handsew mine till I got a sewing machine in 2005), in comparison, bots tend to be more expensive (given the typical workmanship), less accurate and less... fun?

I have been more open about tailoring recently though, or more accurately, getting one costume base tailored when making another one from scratch. There's still this moment of accomplishment that you get when you create an entire costume from scratch (especially since I tend to go for characters with very detailed costumes and silhouettes, like my XXXHolic, or the more recent Odin Sphere or World Destruction) that I can't really get with tailored costumes or bots, though tailoring has been a boon to my super-busy life. I have now relegated the costumes with the more conventional shapes to the tailor, I got my Hakuouki coat tailored recently and her skill far exceeds mine, hahaha, I like that coat a lot.

My issue with bots is usually because they are not very well made. They don't really fit people well (cutting issues), usually aren't very accurate or cheat too much on layers (like making a top and a vest into one piece instead of two), and the quality of the cloth is sometimes lacking. This is the stuff we get in Singapore. I've not tried the types they sell in Japan.

At the end of the day, if I had the time, I think I will still make my own, or at most tailor a base and add on to it. Partially it's really the money issue... well, now that I have earning power, the value-for-money issue. It's partially the pride. And most of the time, it's just the I-can-do-it-much-better-if-I-sewed-it-myself factor. Though nothing really stops me from getting a bots if I think it's good quality and value-for-money.
piyohimi said…
This feels like a long comment already...

Two sides of a coin:
1. If you talior/buy off the shelf, what you work on would be protrayal/photos/entire styling (esp wig and makeup)
2. If you make everything yourself, it’s the workmanship that is being judged- along with your general styling.

And this is actually what marks a gulf between the Western VS Asian cosplay community- if you'd notice, the western might take note more of the workmanship/construction+styling while the asian takes note of protrayal+makeup/styling

Being someone who is not: tall/skinny/pretty/petite I prefer to make things myself- I will only tailor if I am under time constraint or it’s with a team… because I like how I can adjust the proportions of the garment (where it ends, how tight it fits where etc) and having full control over how it would turn out. There is nothing that ruffles my feathers more than to be screwed over by something that is out of my control when I could’ve controlled it in the first place… (I don’t trust tailors lol) and besides, DIY = saves money!

What I save from tailoring I splurge on the fabric. I don’t condemn BOTS- but that is, only if you could alter it to make it more accurate like the character you’re cosing, which I find that alteration takes much more work than making something from scratch. x__x~ To me, cosplay isn’t simply donning a costume.. it also involves altering how you really look IRL to look, or even feel like how the character would be if they were real. What irks me about BOTS would be what Soh has mentioned above- sub-par fabrication, construction, accuracy and in general, less than satisfactory fit.

So if tailoring is out of budget, I would strongly encourage picking up some skills and learn how to make a costume yourself over store bought~! It’s really fun, really- I think I’m a tsundere as well, cuz I go “WHY I DO DIS TO MAISELF” all the time but in the end I like how it works out. I want to be able to create, and be happy with what I created. :) Though, if making something from scratch is too hard, just try to learn how to alter the costume to have more of an accuracy factor. But if at the end of the day you’re just looking to have fun- just don’t mind what other people are saying. If you do… then

(P.S. with that said, so, any face that isn’t seen much means newbie? That’s new to me XD But… that means you guys look young what! Truth is, the bigger the community, the less they should start terming people like that. If they’re working there, they’re bound to meet people no matter new or experienced whut… o_o)
Soh said…
On a side note, I suspect I've been guilty of labeling people as newbies at some point of my life too. Shall refrain from doing so. Being an oldie doesn't mean I'm a goodie hahaha. Some of the newbies have cosplayed more times in their short cosplay lives than I have in my 9 odd years. It's more fo the quality of cosplay, not the quantity or the "age" of the cosplayer, that really matters.

And I just want to add that I totally understand what you guys mean about being masochistic about making our own costumes, I often ask myself the same thing (usually around 2 to 3AM at night when I have work the next day and I'm still sewing and event/shoot day is like a few days away and there's a mountain of sewing to do which I could easily have avoided if I had started earlier/cared less about the details/hot glued instead of handsewed). Though, I've always felt the hard work makes the end result so much more rewarding, and what makes me want to cosplay some more... though I usually end up doing simpler costumes after a big costume, this is called cosplay-fatigue!

I'm also feeling my age recently, somehow the younger ones seem to be cosplaying every other week (but then I think of Xrystal and Yuanyuan and then I think it's all a mental thing) but just keeping up with costumes for Cosfest, AFA and CF getting me pretty burnt out... This may or may not change if I just switch wholeheartedly to tailored costumes or bots, but I doubt I'd ever be able to refrain from the urge to just sew my own costume. If there's anything more leh-chey than sewing my own costume it's modding a bots. Ugh. I'd rather mod normal clothing (from This Fashion or something) to make it into a costume than to mod a bots. *shudder*

Randomly, this has inspired me to go take a look at the quality of bots in Japan when I go over in June.
suki.luna said…
it totally depends if you yourself as an individual agrees to going for BOTS.

for honesty sake, I can not sew for nuts. *yeah, i go haywire when i read/view paper patterns.*

neither am I against store-bought costumes as long as it is close enough in details to the one I would like to purchase. I don't even mind passing materials to cosplayer tailor/friends to do my costume. *partly because i got no guts to trust china-tailors. =___="*

In the recent years, we have been giving more focus on makeups and how pretty we look, partly got to contribute to the fact that some of us aren't as perfect as the characters we see in mangas & animes. Probably this one way we make ourself feel better?

Anyway , it is really up to the individual, since it is your own personal satisfaction you are satisfying, not others. :)

*hope imma making sense.... =___=" fever coming up le...
Jac said…
I say don't judge cosplayers, plain and simple.

Let's all just get together and enjoy the hobby instead if criticizing each other.

Just enjoy how well the cosplayer wears the costume, how in-character they act, and most importantly: how happy we are to get to dress up as characters as loved by their(the character's, not cosplayer's) fans! :D
Anonymous said…
For '99 and '00, I sourced the base from shops and modify it myself. From '01 onwards, when the range of cosplays I was into started diversifying, I had the base tailored after which I put in the details myself as I couldn't find the base easily and I didn't know how to draft. During that time, there were no BOTS, even wigs, contact lenses and make-up were a rarity!

But I'm switching to self-sew more nowadays. When I fully came back to cosplay from my semi-retirement in 2007, my mum helps me to draft the base. I then modify by trial and error, which explains the tacking on my costume you saw at my home that time(and the slowpokeness for KG) XD

I've never bought BOTS cosplay costumes before. The series they mass-produce from just isn't what I'm into. I did contemplate on some fanciful ones I saw on Taobao but I find that I like the feeling of having done SOMETHING on my costume with my own hands =D
Anonymous said…
You really have a really long post for this. Since i'm rushing my reports now i'll make this short and sweet.

WTF with the newbie thing. It is kinda funny with a bitter taste in the mouth. Well, i guess if you are not the most active forum gallery poster or the most goo goo ga ga overed overly CGed photos person in the forums, you will be branded as newbie these days. With the high influx of new and good cosplayers these days, it is no wonder people are judging every random cosplayer that is not on their facebook listing, a newbie. Guess we are getting old eh. :P
No point pulling out guns and knives against them, lets do our own sweet and nice cosplays.

More people often = more opinions.

As to DIY and tailloring, i suppose a good half of us started out asking mommy to help us sew or sew ourselves. These days, it is all about tailoring. Except for the precious few who sew their own costumes. Try talking to a any average cosplayers that joined within these two years. They'd tell you that they never really thought that self sewing exist since costumes are prevailing everywhere in cheaper and faster methods of obtaining them. They are pretty accurate and available. What is slogging for a costume?

It can be quite infuriating when convincing a cosplayer that they can just paint on a cheap pants to get a patternn instead of having to tailor it.

I think it's the idea of what the whole circle is into and how everyone likes the easy way out.

Even i 'm into tailoring these days except that just bcos i have totally, totally no time to even sit down and stare at the design of the costume or even buy the cloth thanks to work. Like you mentioned, work is propelling the working class to tailor or even buy from shops.

I guess we must come to terms that tailoring or buying costumes has taken over the main cosplay circle.

The only thing that separates the authenticity of cosplays between the cosplayers are no longer the costumes, but the props (however props can be paid made), the other accessories, the posing and especially the wig.

Cosplaying is a perfection of everything of a character. No just the costume. So horray for a moment.

Bottomline : If you are a good good cosplayer, you will know a good cosplayer when you see one.
Laurie said…
When I started cosplaying 3 years ago, my first costume was made by our family seamstress. I handed my savings and Kamatari Honjou costume drawings that I made and other reference photos.

I was happy when I was able to wear it to a convention, but as I became more part of the community, I noticed how people were critical with the way you look.

I don't think of myself as a hotshot so I felt that I can make up for my lack of similar features to the accuracy and beauty of my costumes.

I went from 100% commissioned to around 80% commissioned when I cosplay and I want to lower it so much more.

I am not saying it's wrong or less great about having bots, I just think I grow fonder of my character every time I try to make a part of it ^ ^
Echan: thks for the comment! I totally get what you meant about wanting to 'cosplay nao' and how the feeling of wanting to cos a character fades by the time you get around to doing it.

Soh: Always loved reading your comments >.< very insightful ! And glad to know I'm not the only one feeling such feelings.

Haha, its not the first time I get seen as a newbie. Personally I'm alright with that. Like you, I label people too. But I think that's totally normal (and humane). It's just a way our brain works to categorise and organise people so as to give the appropriate behaviour or reaction to them.

I just found the way they discussed that openly very rude and unprofessional.

I've tried Cospa's costume once and found them to be pretty high quality. And Inuran keeps raving about them to me. Maybe you can check them out when you go over next time xD

Piyohimi: Totally agree with you about the difference of the East & West. I don't really wanna judge which side is better but I'm finding myself taking my hat off to the western side more. Even though, I guess I have more 'cosplay idols' from the east side @_@ Ahhh~ bes confused xD

ps: Aiya, those SA are young kids la =\ *shakes head*

Suki Luna: Thanks for your input! Yeah, personal satisfaction... something I think a lot of cosplayers are forgetting =\ . Hope u're feeling better O_O!

JAc: Well said xD! Even though its honestly hard to NOT judge people but the least they could do was to keep their comments to themselves *shakes head*

Shuushuu: Hurry up with KG!!!! Yea, I agree with you. Even though bots and tailoring are very tempting...it just feels more "Solid"(WTF?!) and "fulfilling" to be able to do the costumes yourself. Thats the biggest reason I insist on doing my own costumes x-x

Zephyus: haha your short comment is long! Thanks for your insights!

And yes I feel Old T_T. Cosplay is a perfection of everything of a character. totally agree with you.
Laurie: thks for the comment xD I guess we're all the same huh, making the costumes ourselves just brings us one step closer to the character. Makes us feel liek we've actually exchanged SOMETHING for this cosplay.
Yuanie said…
I started off with making most costumes by myself.. but as workload gets heavier and really no time for myself, I would send the costume to tailor for help.

Getting tailor for help will result in better workmanship in the costume quality - however you get to spend much more.

Doing it yourself will result in *ahem ahem* quality - however you might end up spending much more time.

Time = Money.. which one should I save more? Usually this can be settled if I just start work early -_-|||||.. But whenever I know that my costume is being settled by tailor, I really feel much relief and only need to focus on making props. However, when I sew the costume myself, I'll get this good sense of satisfaction. So sometimes I thought.. which should I value more? Satisfaction or Relief ? In some times, its relief -_- .. and yes its due to work.

For now, I'm still trying to sew costumes myself.. but sometimes I fall to 'relief' very easily by heading towards the tailor. But heck.. in the end as long as I enjoyed the cosplay, I guess thats the most important. And in the end I could even sell off costume to earn back the $$$ spent on tailor.

Hope I no go over topic here :D Or out of topic D:
YANJIA. said…
Personally I'm still very new to cosplay. And my first project with my team was Vocaloid. And knowing nothing about Sewing and fabrics and stuff. I bought my Miku costume. Which was i guess well sew.

Personally, it's the best to sew your own costume. But that often mean TIME. And being a student who hasn't even finish secondary School, and have Os next year, i really do not have much time on hand. So i guess i'll probably be buying costumes - At least until i graduated from Secondary or after Poly.

Not saying that i'm rich, my parents do allow me to cosplay, thus all the money comes from them. It do feel kinda bad.

But sometimes people do say like "Why did you buy your costume? Don't you know how to make them instead?" It do feel kinda insulted. Not like i don't bother trying but the quality is *coughcough*

No offence, Just trying to make a point of my view (:
Min said…
Wow, interesting topic...I am happy u brought up this topic :)

I started cosplaying by sewing my 1st costume cuz back then, it was hard to find bots costumes in any stores at all...and to even find a wig was difficult (in Msia anyway LOL)..At that time, I didnt even know any tailors willing to sew "odd-looking" outfits....haha...

It was difficult cuz I have never sewn anything except an apron during my Home Economics classes @__@ So i did my costume thru trial-and-error and it worked to a certain degree LOL (the costume doesnt look that nice but is passable..haha)

However, as i sew more costumes myself thru trial-and-error method, I found myself struggling A LOT cuz my lack of experience and knowledge in the sewing aspect is hampering my sewing efforts :( I made tonnes of sewing mistakes here and there (and still make them today LOL)....I tried reading up tutorials, etc but I feel that can never beat a proper training course in sewing....

And in Msia, i cant find any sewing patterns at all :( I know Spore has Spotlight, pretty much like in Australia and such sewing patterns really help in sewing one's own costumes...I bought one during my studies there and realised the ease of using it rather than drafting out one from scratch each time I sew my own costume @__@

And I find it a letdown that ppl put u down for the effort u put in sewing your own costume :( I remembered being sneered at by one cosplayer juz for sewing my own costume during a photoshoot and ever since then, I vowed to myself that I will show him that I can sew my own costumes despite not having tailoring/fashion background!

But that shows the perception most ppl have on sewing your own costumes...it's as though sewing your own costume is a bad thing :( And it's get really demotivating to hear someone pass such comments when u have put in so much effort juz to sew the costume (it doesnt help that cosplay competitions here doesnt place emphasis on DIY-ing your own costumes)

Dun get me wrong...

I am not against bots costumes costumes...in fact, some of my costumes are bots oso cuz I dun have the skills/knowledge/time to sew them...and some of the bots costumes are better than my own DIY-ed costumes LOL

Bots costumes are pretty good if u cant find the material for the costume...for example it's hard to find pleather/fur material here in Msia as well as tailors willing to sew them....so having bots really helps

In fact, sometimes ordering bots costumes is actually cheaper than DIY-ing your own costumes....i know this sounds surprising but once i did sit down and calculate the costs...Like u said, China made costumes are getting cheaper and if u take into account the locally-sourced materials and local tailoring charges....buying bots from China is actually cheaper LOL (though the quality varies from one tailor to another tailor)...

And not everyone can sew....So bots is a blessing for some cosplayers who cant sew but still wanna cosplay...and not being able to sew our own costumes and having bots costumes doesnt make u a bad cosplayer :) And neither should that stop u from cosplaying ...I have frens who own bots costumes and they r good cosplayers I look up to ^_^

The jury is still out on this...and I personally ok wif bots costumes...though I feel that in cosplay competitions (especially those focusing on workmanship or similar categories), bots costumes are a no-no cuz i dun see the point in that....
alphonia said…
My enjoyment in cosplaying really comes from the fact that I make my own cosplays. I spend all that time and effort on a costume and when people recognize me or ask me for a picture. I feel accomplished because it means that my costume is well done. I've noticed with my friends that they never enjoyed it as much as I did because they always borrowed my costume or bought it from somewhere. The costume is like a baby. I devoted time and love to it, and my friends didn't. They can never feel as proud of it as I do when people recognize us.

It's true that cosplay isn't really about costumes all the time anymore. Most people say someone is a good cosplayer just because they are very pretty, but cosplaying should be about the costume. If someone can make a good costume, style a good wig and have an awesome prop then they should be a good cosplayer. Not everyone is born pretty in the world, and certainly not all cosplayers. Some of us aren't blessed with a pretty face or nice body, but we should be able to make it for it with our skills.

I really believe anyone can make their own costumes if they really tried. I mean, everyone has to learn sewing from somewhere right? So maybe you can't sew a straight line right in the beginning. It's not suppose to be something you can learn overnight. If you do it slowly with patience, you can still get a straight line. Heck, I've been running fabric under the machine for a year before I can do straight lines at non-turtle speed. If a design is too complicated for you to do, you still have to learn how to do it before you can move on to something even harder. If you never try, you will never advance and never get better.
PuchysLOVE said…
well here i Thing all depend on the point of view of every body,
I make my own cosplays but i can make all of them because i can´t spend all the time with cosplay, because i need to pay more attention to my work or my own life XD , but that is not the pint here in mexico we have a problem some times , some people say that the cosplay is "not cosplay" if you don´t make it your own costume... yeah I now it sound silly... i think that its not important that .-. ..make it or u but it , while you enjoy what are you doing, but! I really thing is really really bad qhen the people say that they make their own cosply when thats not true and in the contests they say the make it -__- m here in mexico we usually name the people that usualy make cosplay for other people "cosmakers" is ok is good s that some people can help others to make their cosplays , I have made some cosplys for my friends when I had time , but i really hate when people try to make profits with your name .. they say " oh! yes I make her/his cosplay ! i can mek your too!" and that its not true ... -____-

to end this i think is ok to make or buy your cosplays.. hile you have fun ... jeje
LOL @ the shop assistants. I bet they never go to conventions haha. You should have totally gone like "yeah I'm actually quite new to this hobby, been cosplaying for a few years only" haha
Ying said…
About the shop.. I was so pissed about it that time. As my friend is a non-cosplayer, she wanted to take a look at the costume. So we squeeze in the shop at the mega mall that starts with a "S".

As we walk passed the counter of the small shop there, the young sales assistant just gave a passing remark with an attitude: "Oh.. Kaypoh(busybody) people again". Of course people are curious about cosplay. Who doesn't?

Then, later when we are looking at the costume, my friend giggled and said that it was really inaccurate. (Non-cosplayer, but she games and watches anime). And the sales girl overheard us and said "they don't know what is cosplay."

I was like -_-. Even my non-cosplayer friend could point out how inaccurate the costume are and yet you guys are giving this kind of remarks. I wonder if like Kaika said that someone who is new wants to join this hobby will really be disappointed and decide not to venture in this hobby cause of some harsh comments.

I'm ok with people who buys costume, but try to bring to alteration shops to get it to fit your size and add up things that are missing from the bought costumes.

As for tailoring, it's fine as long as it goes.

And I'll always respect people who does their whole costume by themselves.

I believe in showing the character you have cosplayed well than other factors (of course other factors are ++points). It makes me feel you really love the character and not doing for glamorous sake.

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