Right now is a great time to be a costumer. For the first time, probably ever, costuming resources are at their best. Forces like Joann’s, Yaya Han, McCalls, and Simplicity have created amazing patterns and fabrics with costumers in mind. Now it is easier than ever to find patterns made specifically for Marvel and DC comic characters. Beyond that, they are dipped into the various subcultures of costume communities too such as lolita, maid cafe, anime and video game characters in creating patterns for these communities. As a costumer myself, I am overjoyed. I remember about 2 years ago I wanted to make a Sailor Neptune costume. Me, not being skilled in creating my own patterns as some are, I had to collect various reference photos and then sit my butt at the pattern catalog table at my local Joann till I found the right patterns to Frankenstein together my costume. To be fair, it wasn’t half bad. It took some time to sit there any cherry pick just the right pieces, and sure, it took an extra level of ingenuity, but it was worth it to get the costume I wanted.
Recently, I had another moment just like this but with an entirely new costume in mind:Vintage Playboy Bunny Belle. I groaned for a moment think “how am I going to find patterns to make this?! Will I be doomed to make own pattern?!” Like always though, I gathered my reference photos and parked myself at the pattern catalogs and to my surprise McCall now has a pattern for bunny suits. I sat there in such great surprise that for a moment I wondered if Yaya Han and McCall’s were some sort of fairy godmother that existed to answer my costume wishes.
While moments like this are wonderful and magical there is also a downside to the rising popularity of costuming. Late last year when Joanns and Yaya Han announced their partnership to create a line of fabric specifically for costuming everyone was thrilled. All those odd fabric textures, designs, and colors we can never seem to find, finally available everywhere! However… the high price certainly matches the high demand. Most of Yaya’s line starts at $20.00 a yard, which is a difficult price to pay for many costume enthusiasts (well– at least for me). I remember when the fabric first hit the market that there were rumors swirling around her line’s debut stating that Joann’s amazing coupon deals (the 50- 60% off a cut of fabric) would specifically exclude Yaya’s fabric line, but they seemed to quickly be dispelled. However, now as I search for the perfect grey stretch fabric I can only seem to find it in Yaya’s brand. Sadly, every time I try to purchase my 4 yards and use my magical coupon I find that her fabric is conveniently on sale and I can’t use it.
Yaya’s fabric isn’t the only fabric i’ve seen this issue with. Now as the makers and sellers of these fabrics catch on to how in demand their product is all of it seems on sale when these good coupons are out. I’ve seen this in the last month as new licensed cotton prints have been coming out. It only makes sense that this would happen if you think back to high school economics. As demand increases, so do the price. It’s not even just the cosplay specific fabric either. As I’ve searched for several fabrics ranging from dupioni silk to brocades and jacquards, I’ve found that they seem to constantly be on sale when the best coupons are available. For anyone out there who says, “well it’s always been that way.” It really hasn’t always been that way. Last summer when I started on an adventure to create a recreation of Margaery Tyrell’s wedding dress I needed 11 yards of a very expensive dupioni silk fabric. I waited and waited till a 60% coupon came up and bought everything I needed for about $60.00 dollars. Today, as I have skulked around Joann’s, I haven’t seen an opportunity to do that again.
And in the last two years thanks to the rising popularity of the Marvel Films and increasing attendance of comic con’s around the country, makers and sellers of these costume resources look to capitalize on the popularity– which is the smart thing to do. However, the buyer on the other end of that now feel the pain of that popularity in their cosplay budget. I know personally, I’ve seen my spending on fabric increase quite a bit. These price increases seems to be the price we pay as our resources increase. The real question is for those of us that have been long time enthusiasts, are we willing to pay this price, or will others step up and begin to create a further market for costume resources and begin offering lower priced fabrics?
GNN readers, what are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments!!