Hello my fellow otaku! I was at a convention recently and discussing the evolution of available cosplay materials, in particular the variety of thermoplastics for armor making. This led me to thinking about how much not only cosplay materials, but also the hobby itself, has evolved over just the past few years.
In general, conventions, whether anime or comic, have increased not only in the number held (with some states holding more than three or four a year) but also in attendance. It can be said that some conventions have increased in
attendance by over 50% each year. This can be a clear indicator that people are either becoming fans of anime and comics or those that were previously fans now feel they have a place to celebrate their interests. Overall, the increase in convention visibility has brought cosplay to light and introduced it to more people.
John Furlong Photography
Now you see more and more media outlets covering stories on conventions and also featuring cosplayers, bringing the hobby more attention and also normalizing it a little more each time. (My own mother really never accepted the fact that I cosplay, until she saw a news story on CNN about San Diego Comic Con a year or two ago and then she thought it was more normal.)
Because of the attention and acceptance of cosplay, numerous companies are taking
notice of the needs of cosplayers, in particular when it comes to construction materials.
Fabric stores like Joann’s have embraced the community and have added fabric lines
through cosplayfabrics.com and patterns
specifically for cosplayers.
For armor making, materials are now easier to use, and cheaper options such as EVA foam have become more popular. Five years ago, Wonderflex was the only thermoplastic on the market. With a fabric grid layer underneath the plastic, it had limited flexibility and was difficult to use for circular pieces. Then came Worbla, clear Worbla, black Worbla with a smoother
texture with less need to sand and now Thibra, which has a lower melting point making it
easier and faster to use than ever. Now armor making is much easier for everyone.
The community itself has grown over the years to embrace and protect its own. With the popularity of cosplay increasing and the integration of cosplay and social media, there have been cases of negativity and bullying, mainly stemming from those outside of the culture
that don’t fully understand it. Luckily, the
cosplay community has used this in a positive way to band together and make cosplaying a safer environment for all.
John Furlong Photography
The Cosplay Is Not Consent movement has gained major momentum over the past year or two and signs are clearly displayed at conventions worldwide, alerting attendees to please ask cosplayers for pictures first and to be respectful if they say no. Panels have emerged covering topics such as body positivity and confidence, Cosplay Is for Everyone, race, and the LGBT within cosplay.
It’s been fantastic to see not only a growing acceptance of cosplay and geekdom in everyday life, but also the increase in resources and support for everyone that participates. I honestly can’t wait to see what the next generation of cosplayers is able
to create with what will come out in the future.