This past weekend at C2E2 in Chicago, I saw probably more costumes than I ever remember seeing at the comic book convention. Now, I’m no cosplayer myself (I mean, I can technically sew…). However, I can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into creating costumes, and I’ve often marveled at how lovingly crafted they are. And yes, I’ve wondered, where did she get that material and how does he go to the bathroom?
So, earlier this year when I heard about Yaya Han’s line of cosplay fabric, I was interested in an academic and abstract way. I very well might have gotten more into cosplay when I was younger if I knew at all where to find stuff (I used to dress up as Deanna Troi because it required one low-cut flared dress and one Starfleet logo communicator pin). And I like pretty fashion things.
Given the coalescing of mainstream culture and cosplay represented by my very anecdotal observation about the proliferation of costumes at C2E2, this feels like an idea whose time has come.
The Yaya Han collection, an exclusive line created by CosplayFabrics.com with input from Han and available only at JoAnn Fabrics stores and joann.com, officially debuted on Friday. In fact, I hear that some people at C2E2 were already wearing costumes made from them. I had a chance to experience the fabrics for myself on the show floor; now, I have no idea what constitutes great cosplay fabric, but I can tell you many of them do stretch in four different directions as advertised and there are some really lovely colors and patterns.
“Sourcing fabrics has been an intricate part of cosplay,” Han said at her press conference, noting that in the past, cosplay has often consisted of dyeing, manipulating, and digging deep in terms of research. Finding the very materials needed was a huge part of the process. So, streamlining this part of it helps cosplayers in a big way: “This puts the focus on creativity, instead of running around finding things,” she said.
The fabrics are now easily accessible by everyone within driving distance of a Jo-Ann Fabrics store, which is huge. Previously, specialty fabrics like these had to be purchased online, which made it impossible for cosplayers to determine quality, flexibility, breathability, durability, texture, and accurate color-matching. In addition to accessibility, Han believes it’s important to offer a variety of materials and colors in different designs for different genres, from anime and steampunk to fantasy and superhero. And naturally, comfort is a big deal too.
It sounds like Han and CosplayFabrics.com are already looking forward to expanding the line, which currently consists of 75 different fabrics across 16 different categories. They include four-way stretch spandex, four-way jumbo spandex, brocade and coutil fabrics. Coatings include foil, leather, and embossed armor plate. So, if demand is high, the Yaya Han collection could be here to stay – and it might get bigger and better.
For cosplayers, this could represent more than just another step in the right direction. It’s also recognition that cosplaying is an innovative and creative art form, one that’s becoming more popular, more visible, and more mainstream. “The most wonderful thing here is that somebody noticed us little cosplayers,” Han said.
CosplayFabrics.com appears to be open to feedback on how to improve the collection, once everyone has had a chance to actually experience the materials in real life, so go check it out at your local store and see what you think. I’d be interested in hearing input from actual cosplayers as to how the fabrics really work.