Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cosplayers of the World, Rejoice! Joann's Is Getting Cosplay Fabrics!

This week, there was collective cheering in the cosplay community when JoAnn Fabrics announced that it was going to start carrying Cosplay Fabrics. Arising out of a collaboration between the Cosplay Fabrics company and well-known cosplayer Yaya Han, the fabric line will go on sale in Spring 2016. It will include 4-way stretch Spandex, PU leather, brocades, coutil, and even fabric that looks like armor!

The designers' motivation to make these fabrics more available to cosplayers came out of their own struggles to find appropriate fabrics for their costumes. Many times specialty fabrics are not available except in big cities, or online where a buyer can't feel the fabric to make sure it's the proper color, texture, or quality. Bringing these fabrics to Joann's will make many a cosplayer's life much easier.

Swatches of the available colors of Cosplay Fabrics' 4-way stretch Spandex. Courtesy of

The way I see it, this development has several implications:
  1. Cosplay is definitely "going mainstream." This move represents a huge fabric retailer's acknowledgement that cosplayers exist and are a sizeable-enough portion of its customer base that it is willing to cater to them directly. I'm so happy that such a fun and educationally rich hobby is getting this popular!
  2. If fabric-finding is easier, then cosplayers will spend more time working on making costumes, which is the most educationally relevant part.
  3. I hope the prices of these fabrics will not be marked up simply because they have the label "cosplay," since that risks marginalizing cosplayers with limited financial resources. On the other hand, monetary calculations are a legitimate mathematical practice that sewers engage in. Maybe an expensive cosplay fabric will encourage cosplayers to look elsewhere in the store for a similar but cheaper alternative, if one exists.
  4. Some of these specialty fabrics are likely to be more difficult to sew than ordinary fabrics like cotton. Cosplayers will have to learn the affordances of these new materials, like how to not stretch Spandex as you're running it through a machine (if you do, it will pucker). So while these might not be the most novice-friendly fabrics, if novices insist on using them, then they're likely to learn a lot more about sewing than if they used "easy" fabrics.
I'm really looking forward to seeing and feeling these fabrics for myself when they arrive at my local JoAnn's!

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