[Robert Wheatley | Lifestyle Editor]
If you have attended a convention of sorts, you would have noticed many a creature, character and customer dotted about in the excessive crowds; real identities hidden behind a fictional mask.
From store-bought replicas of one’s favourite cartoon character to immensely detailed reconstructions of a superhero’s suit, cosplays are a fundamental part of any convention.
Creating a cosplay takes time and effort. I spoke to University of Hertfordshire student, Fahad Qurashi, about the process of bringing his costumes to life.
Photo credit: Robert Wheatley
He had reasons for making his own costumes, one a universal student motivation:
“Money? Yeah, basically, what you’ll find if you start taking it seriously is that making costumes is so much easier than buying them. Like, ‘Oh, here’s an entire outfit for £40’, but if you make it – sure, it will be like 20 hours of your life, but it’s £8. My Friday cosplay, of the Expo just gone, was Yu Narukami, and his shirt, if you look online: £60. I made it for £8.
“There is that sense of accomplishment at the end where you’re like ‘Oh my god, I made this, I’m amazing; no-one can tell me differently’. I can make it more suited to me – you know your own size. When making, the only mistakes are your own and they’re always fixable.”
Fahad began making costumes by altering clothing he bought, but then moved onto making his work from scratch.
“Minwu was my first cosplay that I made from scratch – it was really hard as I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. I made it all by hand and it took hours, and hours, but I got there in the end.
“You do learn a lot of skills from making your own costumes, like I know how to sew now, like properly know now.”
Behind most costumes are countless hours of work, but also research. A cosplay from a live-action film can be relatively easy to reconstruct as we are provided multiple perspectives when viewing the character. This gets harder with animation as 2D art often focuses on a particular angle, meaning one either waits for this to change or simply improvises.
“Majority of the time… you look up other people’s cosplays… Sometimes if they have like a Cosplay Island account, or a tumblr, or a Facebook page – some cosplayers have a step by step where you can follow their lead.”
Fahad explained that the average costume can take around two weeks, non-stop. He showed me detail that went into it one of his outfits such as its stitching and choice of fabric, although this was only the clothing.
Most cosplayers will use makeup to fully transform themselves into their character, which means yet more time dedicated to research and more money spent. Wigs are another edition to a cosplay, though these are often purchased, and these may still require dyeing and styling to replicate a character’s hair, or may need its length altered.
I asked if he had any other quick advice regarding cosplaying:
“Online resources are your friend; look online, do your research. Go fabric shopping: cheap fabric is still good – if it’s something more than like £3 don’t buy it, unless it’s like leather. Cosplay something you love, not something people recognise – it’s not worth it, putting all this effort and then going as someone you don’t even know.”
You can follow Fahad Qurashi’s page on Facebook, ‘Lord Sass Cosplay’.