strange_doings: (Default)
strange_doings ([personal profile] strange_doings) wrote2017-03-20 09:39 pm
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Where do I find...?

I posted this as a bit of a rant on after the 800th person asked about the best websites for buying cosplay, but the advice might have fallen on deaf ears if the poster was actually a bot. Oops. But I feel like the advice itself, overall, is worthy, if written a bit bluntly. So, view here what a commissioner feels whenever they see someone asking about where to buy the "best" cosplay sight-unseen from a bootleg overseas website...

Some background: the poster-bot specifically asked for where to buy the special clothing seen in anime/manga, or cosplay, but it had to be high quality. That was all they said.

All right I'm gonna tackle this kinda once and for all - this is nothing personal directed at you, otaku person, this is more "we get this question a lot and you're not going to like the answer." This is for everyone, anyone, anywhere, who has taken a shine to the idea of cosplay and wants this same information. If I'm a little harsh or blunt, blame the tequila.

1. "Special clothing in anime/manga" what do you mean? There are historical series, fantasy series, scifi/futuristic series, mecha series, modern slice-of-life series, etc etc etc. There is no one style of clothing common to all anime/manga. There isn't even consistency between modern series with fashion. If you want fashion, google fashion. Google the new street fashion trends in Japan, google old fashion trends around the world. Even after you do that, you'll find that there is very little couture or "fashion" clothing being illustrated in manga/anime that ends up being actual fashion clothing being sold in shops on the street. Very little. And that's JUST talking modern streetwear. If you like the aesthetic of a fantasy series? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, there's just no way anyone, not even a couture shop in Ikebukuro, is going to manufacture, market, and sell that kind of clothing.

2. What do you mean by "high quality?" Do you know what you want in a costume? Do you want it to fit you correctly and be made of high-end wool, linen, or silk fabrics? Do you want it to be 100% accurate to the character? Do you basically just want it to not fall apart while you're wearing it? Do you want to be able to wash it and not have the colors bleed all over each other? Do you just want to not be naked? There is such a wide range of what people expect out of "quality" and what they will call a "high-quality costume" that you have to know what you actually want. I've seen reviews from people who consider a poly/cotton broadcloth costume with warped vinyl trim "such great quality!!" when I wouldn't touch that fabric or trim with a hundred foot pole. Knowing what you want will help you decide if any reviews for any online sellers are helpful and will guide you to something that meets your expectations.

If your expectations are low, well, then almost anything will do.

3. All those photos of costumes on mannequins in the ad banners look great, don't they? Chances are very good you're not going to get something that looks anything like it. Buying from Chinese sellers is a crapshoot at best, a disaster at worst. They don't take your actual measurements into account, they just choose a premade costume that fits the majority of your measurements. Very very very very few of them genuinely "custom" make a costume. If the "fabric type" or contents on the listing say "uniform cloth," steer far far far away from it. Uniform cloth is a term among these sweatshop producers that just means some kind of generic poly/cotton poplin cloth that is low quality, never pre-washed, will probably either rip at the seams or bleed colors all over your other clothing or both. Do you know why sweatshop sellers have lower prices than others? Because they're paying poor Chinese people pennies per day to sit there and sew clothing. They also don't care about accuracy - they're not invested in these characters at all, it's not their job to get the shape or the color or the trim or the number of buttons "right." They just want your sweet cash and will crap out anything to get it.

Like, I get it. There's bajillions of cosplay sites out there when you google any particular character or series + cosplay. Search places where people congregate, like Facebook, tumblr, here on in the Review sections, other cosplay forums, even Etsy feedback, to find out what people have to say about what they actually received from buying literally anywhere. No, it's not easy. Sorry! There is no such thing as one good site providing what you, unique individual person, consider "high quality" - finding the answer to that question involves you doing work. That's just the way it is. You have to research your options, read reviews, and make good decisions. Or, you can just click on any of the banners on any site anywhere and take your risks. Your choice.

But most importantly KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. Know what's most important to you. And the honest truth is, if you want genuine control over quality of materials, quality of construction, accuracy, and budget, your best bet is to get it commissioned by a professional who knows their stuff. You'll still have to do research to get someone who doesn't have a reputation as a scammer, but once you find someone who genuinely does quality work and fits your budget, that person can probably provide you all your costumes for years to come.

So I rambled a little, but we do literally get this question all the time. What do you want? Can you use the google to narrow down your choices? Can you find cosplay reviews on other websites, forums, and social media who can say "Don't buy from X company, this is the crap I received and it wasn't worth it!!" by yourself? Please do that. And remember that most people who regularly cosplay long-term make their own stuff precisely because they want to control quality and accuracy.

But seriously, sweetheart, fashion? There are a lot of anime/manga series and video games out there and while some of them do sort of design characters based on regular everyday street fashion, not all of them do. The only thing that will help you there is googling specific characters from specific series, or googling types of street fashion, and seeing if there are any high-fashion couture shops selling anything similar to it or if that's just Japan being Japan again, designing stuff that looks amazing but isn't actually made by any clothing manufacturer in real life.