Daisy Brookes – Ekko Cosplay

cosplay game of thrones comic con MCM cosplay uk
Khalid (@kjedoran, photo by MattEleven Photography/@matthewelliotphotography) in one of his favourite cosplays – Grey Worm from Game of Thrones.

I love making new costumes. It’s such a great feeling when you find a new project you’re really passionate about and you can’t wait to start and just throw yourself in to it. That being said, with the con scene growing and popular media producing more and more cosplay opportunities, I’ve noticed a real trend of people pushing themselves to extreme levels to make a new costume for every con.

It’s something that I’m guilty of too.  There have been far too many times that I’ve seen a new movie or show a month before a con and thrown out my existing plans to make something new, pushing myself and my poor bank account to its limits. I’ve got to the point where seeing friends push themselves to breaking point is getting too much, so I want to talk about something that I’m trying to get myself to do more and something I hope more cosplayers will start to accept- that re-wearing costumes is okay.

Set 1
Danny (@ill_print_you_one, photo by Laughing Orc Photography/@laughingorc) in his Hunter Class Costume from Destiny and Isabel (@sand_and_soul, photo by Aperture Photography/@aperturephotog) in her Lara Croft cosplay from Tomb Raider.

There seems to be such a stigma to wearing a costume you’ve worn before, that it makes you less of a cosplayer, and it really saddens me. We pour hours of time, labour and love into making our costumes and the idea that once they’ve been worn to an event once, that’s it? That’s madness.

I think a lot of the stress and pressure of it comes from worrying about what people will think or say about us. Things like being called lazy, repetitive or boring because you wore something you’ve worn before can really hang over you. Or that you aren’t considered as “real” or “dedicated” a cosplayer for not kicking out another new costume. But a lot of the time I feel that that is our own internalised fear, because it seems everyone I’ve spoken to is worried about the same thing. So the people who do make those snide comments must be such a tiny percentage; are they really worth listening to? Do their comments and opinions really have to impact your decisions?

Set 2
Jessica (@aperturecosplay, photo by MattEleven Photography/@matthewelliotphotography) cosplaying Jessica from Until Dawn and Kerry (@kerritcos, photo by Andy Preda Photography/@andy_p_photohraphy) in her classic Daenerys cosplay from Game of Thrones.

I believe when it comes to cosplay, you should focus on yourself more than the opinions and comments of others. It’s much easier said than done, I know, with such a public hobby that leaves you to put so much of yourself on the front line, of course other people’s opinions are going to affect you. You want people to like your costume, the minute details you put in and to appreciate that you’ve memorised how to hold yourself in character. But at the end of the day, doing things that are best for you should always come first. Sometimes that means backing out of a group you just don’t feel dedicated to anymore, or deciding that actually a costume isn’t going to be ready on time and that draining yourself of every possible minute and penny before the con isn’t worth it.

Not only does it feel like a disservice to the costumes we spend so much time making, it’s also often a huge amount of money spent on wearing something once. Would you spend that much money and time on a regular outfit you would only let yourself wear the once? Cosplaying is, for the majority of us, a hobby. With it being a hobby, I feel a lot of the time I need reminding that I can’t let it bankrupt me. This seems to be a common thing people need to be reminded of. Your hobby shouldn’t come before your food and your rent. Your ability to survive shouldn’t ever be majorly impacted by your hobby and, as of late I have seem so many people splashing out money on costumes and then leaving themselves without any money to buy food. It’s a scary thing and I know that working on a new cosplay can engulf you, but we have to start balancing things better.

Set 3
Victoria (@victoria_bowes, photo by Poisoned_Photography/@poisoned_photography1) dressed as Cinderella and Mark (@ivegotredonme, photo by MattEleven Photography/@matthewelliotphotography) sporting his trusty Obi-Wan cosplay.

We all have other things going on in our lives that might impact our decisions and priorities when it comes to cosplay. I think we can all agree though that health should always come first. This is one I have to admit I am very guilty of. As someone with a multitude of health issues, I have definitely let my health fall aside to focus on crunching out another costume and in hindsight it was always a terrible decision. And I’m not just talking about physical health, mental health is also super important to evaluate when it comes to putting your all in to making a costume. Burnout in the cosplay scene is such a common thing and I really think people would benefit from taking a step back, wearing something they know makes them happy and taking it easy.

There are also so many good things that can come from re-wearing a costume. You are given the chance to alter and edit the things you learnt when you first wore it, like making it slightly more comfortable or fixing a piece that was snagging or breaking – really perfecting and making it the best to wear out. You can delve more in to the character and how you want to act and pose with it, changing things up, making yourself more confident. The more times you wear something out, the more chances you have of meeting different photographers, which means more nice photos!

set 5
Troy (@captain_tempest_cosplay, photo by Matt Copestake Photos/@mattcopestake) as Captain America, a costume he’s worn and upgraded many times and myself (@ekkocosplay, photo by GemzusCosplay/@gemzus_x) in my Anna cosplay, which I first made in 2014 and re-wore in 2018!

I reached out on Facebook to see how many people had costumes they loved to re-wear and I was totally overwhelmed by the response. All of the wonderfully talented cosplayers I’ve featured here have worn these costumes multiple times and enjoy every opportunity they get to be these characters. It really warmed my heart to see so many people actively choosing to re-wear costumes and sharing with me why they like to wear costumes more than once. It really is something I hope the community is starting to normalise more and more.

I hope with all this positivity I’ve seen, we can start to prioritise ourselves over costumes. Like I said, you should always come first. Your health, both physical and mental, your time and energy and your money all need to be accounted for. I for one plan on taking the step to re-wear costumes far more often, I hope it’ll bring down my stress levels when it comes to cons and help me enjoy the experience of cosplaying a lot more. Last year I decided to take my first ever costume for a spin, and even though I hadn’t worn the costume in four years, it was so fun to bring it out again and I really felt comfortable and happy in it. So here’s to re-wearing a costume at my next con!

Next Time: Coastal Comic Con 2019

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