When I first began cosplaying, all those years ago (no really), there was a very firm stance by a large number of people on the subject of both commissioned cosplays and so-called “Closet Cosplays”. Although thankfully the attitude on the former has eased considerably, I plan in this article to reinforce the idea that commissioning your cosplay is not a sell-out, and that no-one should make you feel that it is.
Everyone has their own opinion regarding wearing costumes that have not been made by the wearer. As someone constantly needing validation (I’m getting that looked at) I very rarely wear costumes that have been made by someone else. To me, part of the lure of cosplay is that my hard work has created something others who enjoy the same fandoms I do are able to recognise. Though I have made countless incarnations of Sailor Moon, my crowning glory has to be my Idris costume from Doctor Who. It has been remade three times, is due another remake, and the work I have put into it spans years. When people compliment the work, or even just recognise me as the character I am portraying, it is a wonderful rush of warmth, that my hard work has been recognised.
That said, I also own a fully commissioned Sailor Venus costume (from Zan of Poro-poro.com), a partially-commissioned Cats costume (from Belle of Bellesdomain.co.uk and Rossy) and frequently borrow a Dinah the Dining Car costume (from Belle of Bellesdomain.co.uk). Ultimately, the biggest ‘high’ of cosplay for me is the chance to get into costume, into character, and have fun. I love the semi-acting, semi-roleplay that happens in the circles I move in when cosplay is donned.
I believe that, at its heart, cosplay should be about fun and enjoyment. If Joe Bloggs wants to cosplay as Thor, but has absolutely no leather-working skills or armour-crafting skills, I see absolutely zero problem with him commissioning someone to create the costume for him to wear and enjoy. Similarly, if Jane Doe desperately wants to flounce about in a tiny circle skirt waving a Moon Sceptre and chirping, “Tsukini kawatte, oshiokyio” but the idea of sewing with lycra makes her shudder, I don’t see why she shouldn’t commission someone to make her that costume. Cosplay is about having fun, not saying, “Look I can sew/leather-work/armour-craft bestest”.
My personal issue with commissioned cosplay comes in when less-than-scrupulous people try and win awards for work they haven’t done. That, to me, is crossing a line that should not be crossed. If you are entering a masquerade for the sake of saying, “Hey look! I’m Thor!” that’s great, but if you enter a competition and claim you made said Thor costume when you did not, that’s when we’re going to have a falling-out. Most cosplay judges nowadays are cosplayers themselves, many of whom are competition winners in their own right, and they can and will ask questions that will stump anyone who has not made the costume themselves, and I applaud them for that.
So please, please go ahead and commission your costume: Editor Jojo has a wonderful article (found HERE) with information on commissioning your cosplay. If you have a hankering to be a Full Metal Alchemist, or Master Chief, and you feel you’re not up for that; commission the costumes and have fun. That, at the end of the day, is what I think cosplay is about.
main image © Minxie