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Cosplay

    Yaya Han’s new cosplay fabric collection is out!

    The line, featured at C2E2 this weekend, is now available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

    The Yaya Han Collection Fabric (2)

    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?

    P1040532

    Cosplayer extraordinaire Yaya Han, speaking yesterday at C2E2 about her new line of cosplay fabrics, says she was “honored and flattered” to be tapped to help out with the fabric line.

    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.

    Yaya Han cosplay fabrics

    A rep demonstrates the four-way stretch capability of one of the fabrics on the show floor.

    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.

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    Men of Costuming

    MenOfCostuming

         Traditionally women are overlooked in most aspects of geek culture.  There are few strong characters in comics, movies, and games and women in general are usually overlooked as part of fandoms as well.  However, there is one area in which women tend to get the spotlight and men are the ones who are overlooked, and that’s costuming.  If one were to Google search “costuming” or “cosplay” he or she would find a myriad of sites showcasing women in a wide range of varying costumes.  What they probably won’t find are many sites featuring men in costumes.  Other than the 501st Legion, there aren’t many sites that feature many male costumers.  This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t serious male costumers out there.  One gentleman in particular, Lance Barrett, has created a Facebook community called Men of Costuming to help recognize some of the men in the costuming world who take their craftsmanship seriously.  Recently I was able to ask him a few questions about his new community.

    Carrie: What inspired you to create Men of Costuming?

    Lance: Well, as a costumer myself I have many friends both male and female that costume. I was gliding through the internet one day and I couldn’t help but notice how many female cosplayers and costumers there were. Most had taken very simple PG rated costumes and turned them into something very sexual (not that there is a problem with that). A lot of them where selling prints of themselves in various poses and costumes and it got me to thinking about why any of us, male or female, costume. I feel like it’s become more about who can become more “con-famous” or selling stuff for profit. I wanted to create something for us underdogs in the costuming world, something that could show off our talents as well. Please do not get me wrong and think that this is about female costumer bashing or slander. I love seeing what authentic and amazing costumes our estrogen fueled counterparts can create and display. They are unrivaled in the costuming world and I make no mistake in trying to turn this into a competition. This page is simply for the guy’s who generally don’t post many selfies of their work, something for them to look forward to seeing themselves featured on.

    Carrie: How do you feel about the response to the page thus far?

    Lance: The first day was amazing as it seemed every second someone was “Liking” the page. I was thrilled to see so many people, male and female, who wanted to participate. Then it tapered off and I was a little sad it didn’t get a million likes but nonetheless happy that we broke a hundred in a couple of hours. So share this page and let everybody get a chance to see these guys show their stuff!

    Carrie: How long have you been costuming?

    Lance: I’ve been costuming for a few years now.  At first I got a lot of grief from a few of my friends and family members. In a small town in rural Mississippi people have a hard time adjusting to the spectacle that is costuming. I soon found my niche’ of friends and slowly they warmed up to the idea.

    Carrie: On average how long do you spend creating any one costume?

    Lance: I couldn’t put a timeline on a costume per se.  Some took weeks and some I have been working on for over a year. I don’t think you ever finish a costume. What I mean by that is I can always look at my costumes and find something I want to change or do better.  Also, I have some amazing friends who help with costume building, one in particular is Alan Young who is the Dr. Frankenstein of costume creation.

    Carrie: Do you find it easier to fabricate from scratch or to mod existing materials?

    Lance: Honestly, a kit that someone has prepared is by far the easiest way to go, it may cost a bit more up front but could save you hundreds in the long run.

    Carrie:  What’s your personal favorite costume that you’ve made?

    Lance: My all time favorite (right now) is Sev from Republic Commando (Star Wars). When I’m in that costume I am Sev, and you can not convince me otherwise!

    Carrie: Ok, now for a fun question!  Favorite game or game series and why?

    Lance: This is such a tough question! As a kid born in 1982, I had the amazing pleasure of growing up in the Atari/Nintendo era (NES, SNES, N64) then transitioning into Playstation 1 and 2 and finally as an older 31 year old kid I mainly play PC games. So, as game or game series goes I couldn’t say which one made me the happiest. Warcraft definitely took the majority of my life away as far as a game goes but I have a Love/Hate relationship with it now.

    Carrie: Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

    Lance: Please like our page and support it with your pictures of Men in Costumes! Thank You!

    Men of Costuming takes submissions not only on their Facebook page, but also on their Twitter @MenOfCostuming or their email menofcostuming@gmail.com.

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    How Store-Bought Costumes Ruined Halloween For Me

    femaleheroes

    I used to love Halloween. From childhood into the late 1990s, I used to wear costumes every October and then wonder why we couldn’t do it every day. I mean, wouldn’t any given Monday just be better if I could wear my Supergirl costume on the “el” as I commuted to work?

    My disillusionment with this most wonderful holiday of the year – I mean, come on, no family obligations, just dressing up as someone else and getting candy, what’s the downside? – began about the time I started looking for a Hogwarts costume one year. I couldn’t find a nice long Gryffindor robe that would make me look like a student at Harry Potter’s school. Ah, but I could find a Sexy Gryffindor Robe, so if I wanted to I could both freeze in the Chicago night and look like the Harlot of Hogsmeade instead. Whee.

    A year or two later, my well-meaning husband actually went to Target and picked out a Halloween costume for me – a Sexy Soccer Player outfit. See, being a kick-ass female footballer isn’t sexy enough in itself. I have to be pink and black, wearing a mini-skirt and carrying a matching ball-shaped clutch purse with thigh-high socks on. I’m sure that’s really helpful out on the pitch. Actually, I’m amusing myself imagining a chick in spiked heels tripping across the grass trying not to break a nail while Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe fly past on their way to possess a not-pink ball before it gets to Hope Solo.

    If only I was a cosplayer – but my skill with needle and thread and makeup is pretty negligible. If I could sew (or afford to buy quality handcrafted costumes made by actual seamstresses), I wouldn’t be at the mercy of costume makers who think that Every Single Costume Available for Women must be cheaply made, super-short, frilly, lacy, sequined, patent leathery or otherwise girly, feminine and skimpy.

    Leaving aside questions of sexualization, and how the ubiquity of such costumes might be internalized within the psyche of young girls, I just want to say that I like pink and glitter and tutus as much as the next woman who played with Barbie dolls all throughout her youth. I’m not the type to slut-shame. I get that this is what many women want – and it’s not at all wrong for women to want to look beautiful and desirable. I get that this is how costume companies make money. I’m not going to delve into the societal issues this brings up about women’s self-esteem and images in the media and all that important stuff. But is it wrong to want some choice here?

    When it comes to Halloween, donning a costume to look and act like someone else, I don’t want my only options to be Whore In a Ghostbusters Outfit, Whore from Gotham, Whore With Tongue from the VMAs, Whore Dressed in A Nurse’s Outfit, or Whore Garbed Like Food With Strategically-Placed Bits (Get It? Get It?!). Ultimately it’s no choice at all, if I’m only being asked to choose between 31 flavors of Woman Dressed As Someone Else’s Sex Fantasy.

    ninjaturtleAnd then there’s the issue of WHOM these 31 flavors represent. Sure, we girls get to co-opt male superhero roles by dressing up as Iron Man or Captain America (only sexier! With glitter and ruffles!). But my main problem with gender-bending costumes is that I wish there were more famous, well-written (and better-represented on the silver screen) female superheroes so that girls wouldn’t feel the need to become their male counterparts. I mean, I loved Spider-Woman and Batgirl and Supergirl and Wonder Woman and Laurel Kent (was rather devastated when she turned Manhunter) as a girl. But it’s way more likely for you to see a girl in a Spider-Man suit at any given Halloween gathering. I’d like to see more actual kick-ass females in the mix.

    Of course, we as women all want to look good. But I don’t think I’m the only one who finds store-bought costumes to be degrading, impractical and unimaginative. All I want is the option to not look like bait for rapey assholes, no matter my age.

    My beef with all these sexualized costumes has to do with the fact that I like dressing up as someone else to channel their strength, their abilities, their experiences. It’s fun, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – to pretend. It’s just that not all of my dressing-up fantasies involve putting out for someone. Sometimes, I want to actually look and feel like an interesting, powerful woman, one who is interesting and powerful regardless of how traditionally “sexy” she may or may not be. The lack of options here is discouraging at best, harmful and misogynistic at worst. It is what has made Halloween lost some its wonder and excitement for me.

    I am still going to sneak some of my son’s candy, though. Just sayin’.

     

    [box type=”info”] Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion or position of The Mommy Gamers.[/box]

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    The Legend of GAAM Show – July 13th

    Do you like video games, costumes, art, music, dancing, and prizes? Then you definitely want to be at The Legend of GAAM Show, Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM at The Museum and Gardens in beautiful downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

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