Cosplayers have long done creative things to get the perfect fabric for their costumes — whether it's getting fabric printed online or doing it all by hand with screen printing inks or fabric paint. Cosplayer Yaya Han has gone above and beyond, partnering with CosplayFabrics and Jo-Anns, a fabric and craft store in the US, to design the perfect range of cosplay fabric.
Now, I'm not kidding myself that most readers of Kotaku are going to share the same enthusiasm I have for fabric. "Four-way stretch" probably isn't anywhere near as exciting a term for you as it is for me and my fellow costumers. Even for other Aussie cosplayers it's not useful news as such — Jo-Anns doesn't ship to Australia and there's no word on whether the fabric will be making its way out this way any time soon (if at all). But for the cosplay world it's big news.
For those not in the know, Jo-Anns is essentially the US equivalent of Australia's Lincraft or Spotlight — and having cosplay specific (and cosplay branded) fabrics on display in hundreds of stores across the US is a pretty big deal. Not only is it useful for cosplayers who may have trouble getting their hands on specialty fabrics outside of the fashion districts of New York or Los Angeles, it's also raising the profile of cosplay as an art form worldwide.
After all, if Yaya's cosplay fabrics are successful in this initial run, that only means more money will go towards developing the kinds of materials that cosplayers would kill to get their hands on — maybe one day we'll even be able to go down to Bunnings to pick up a roll of thermoplastic or piece of EVA foam in all shapes and thicknesses.
Yaya Han's CosplayFabrics line has started with 10 different types of fabric, each with multiple different colour choices. The most exciting ones are some of the speciality embossed faux-leathers, a handful of stretch-suede (which can be impossible to find in Australia) and a 4-way stretch fabric called Ultrapreme, which we'll most likely be seeing in a lot of superhero costumes and bodysuits very soon.
Unfortunately, as with many things in the cosplay world, the community has already proven to be its own worst enemy in the face of what should be exciting news. Instead of excitement, Yaya's new line of fabrics has been met with criticism and even downright hostility from some parts of the community.
This ranges from complaints that the range is too expensive (It seems reasonably priced to me, but as a Sydneysider I also think that $7 for a cup of coffee is reasonable, so my perspective may be skewed) to a rumour spread that wearing one of the fabrics had caused a cosplayer to break out in hives, having to be rushed to the hospital from US convention ALA.
Of course, this is only a rumour, with one rational cosplayer pointing out that the fabrics hadn't even been released in time for that story to be possible, but the fact that the rumour was started at all is yet more proof of how much the cosplay community likes to shoot itself in the foot. This is why we can't have nice things, cosplay community.
Rumours aside, the new fabrics are likely to inspire not only cosplay in its traditional sense, but also a bevy of original steampunk, fantasy and sci fi costumes. I could see LARPers loving the new possibilities just as much as the cosplayers they're designed for — here's hoping they might come to Australia one day.