In recent years, cosplay has become more mainstream. We’ve seen highly talented cosplayers representing big brands and Yaya Han’s merchandise can be found in just about any craft store, but the biggest surge in cosplay visibility has to be the prevalence of ready-made costumes available on sites like EZ Cosplay, Mic Costumes, and even Amazon. More and more congoers have been taking advantage of the convenience these sites provide, but is that always a good thing? Let’s take a closer look to see if purchased costumes are harming the craft of cosplay.
Why Buying a Costume Can Be a Good Idea
To start off, let’s talk about when buying a costume can be a good idea. If you’re just starting out on your cosplay journey or you want to dress up as your favorite character without worrying about learning to sew or craft, there’s nothing wrong with buying your costume. Some of the most popular series right now – Genshin Impact and Demon Slayer in particular – have such complex outfits that making them from scratch is out of the question for most people anyway, so purchasing the outfit may be the only way to get the look you want.
Going to an anime convention is an exciting experience and dressing up in cosplay makes it just that much more fun. It honestly doesn’t matter what your skill level is or whether or not your costume is completely original – if you’re having a good time, that’s all that really matters in the end and nobody is going to judge you for it.
The Case Against Buying Costumes
On the other hand, we’d like to present a few alternatives to buying a full costume and wig from the internet. One of the most special things about cosplay is the creativity that comes from making something with your own two hands. If you’re not ready to make an entire complex outfit all by yourself, try to find pieces of it that you can do on your own. The great thing about cosplay getting more mainstream is that there’s an infinite wellspring of resources to learn from! Check out some YouTube tutorials or one of the many amazing ebooks by cosplayers like Punished Props, Kamui Cosplay, or Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay to get started. We’ve even got an entire series of articles on Honey’s Anime about closet cosplay, where you combine and/or slightly alter normal clothes to make a costume you can be proud of!
As you get more confident, you can begin to tackle bigger projects while still purchasing pieces that are either out of your comfort zone or are just easier to buy than make in the first place (like pants and shoes, for example). As long as you’re not competing in a cosplay contest with strict rules, you never need to make 100% of your costume from scratch.
The other thing to keep in mind about purchasing costumes is that they suffer from many of the same problems as fast fashion from places like Zara or Urban Outfitters. They’re usually cheaply made and haphazardly sewn, designed to be thrown away after one or two uses. And even though sites like EZ Cosplay don’t reach the same level of mass production as huge fast fashion brands, their employees’ working conditions can’t be guaranteed to be humane. If this is something you care about, but you still want to buy a full costume, try commissioning a small creator on Etsy instead.
So no, purchased costumes aren’t ruining cosplay (sorry for the incendiary title). They’re a great resource for certain groups of people, and we’re just happy to have more people taking part in the hobby no matter how they go about it, but there are certainly some drawbacks as well. If you’re just starting out, we’d suggest trying your hand at making just one or two parts of a costume and working your way up from there.
But what do you think? Do you believe that purchasing costumes is a universally bad idea? Are you a die-hard cosplay buyer? How do you think the scene has evolved over the years? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!