What's the Difference of buying from a Cosplay Store, Costume Store, versus a Custom Costume Designer?
Cosplay or costume stores sell manufactured costumes and usually originate from China, Taiwan, or Japan and sell volume versus individual pieces. Sometimes it can be confusing if a manufacturer offers made to measure on their designs but there is a significant difference. The fabric, design quality, construction, and detail are going to be quick and simple and fit is going to be closer to generic sizing than actually made for your body. The fabrics will be lower quality because of the price point and labor is significantly lower because labor rates for these countries under pay their workers and do very low day rates instead of living wages. If you are looking to find a character costume and only can spend between $100-$200 then you will find the most amount of options for your budget by purchasing a manufactured costume.
Can you make me a costume for $100-$200 or less?
Unfortunately no. The time and cost that goes into making each one of our pieces far exceeds that kind of budget. As a professional company, each of our workers is paid an appropriate wage for their skill not a day wage like in China.
I don't understand. Fabric only costs $X, how come the piece I want created isn't cheaper?
That's not really how it works. That's like asking an artist how much their colored pencils and paper cost when they are going to do a drawing or asking a painter how much their canvas and paints cost. When we provide you with an estimate - that estimate will include everything that it will take to create your costume. It will have our labor rate per hour and include time for 1) Designing your pattern 2) Research time and sourcing time 3) Time to test your pattern prior to going into the final 4) Time to cut it out 5) Time to assemble it and finish it 6) Time to do specialized techniques like dying, embroidery, creating artwork, embellishing, etc. plus the costs for your fabric and materials. We time each of our projects so while we haven't done every costume style - we generally have a good idea of how many hours it will be for the entire process and can provide pretty accurate estimates and have a good handle on our costs to make something. If you are purchasing a design that has already been created, the price already reflects that we do not need to re-design it, but it will include costs to create your size as the last client we made it for may not be the same size as you.
If you are out searching commissioners - such as in the many Facebook groups or out on the internet you will need to educate yourself on the different types of commissioners out there. There are cosplay companies that manufacture goods and use factory labor, there are professional businesses who are experienced in doing commissions and doing custom, and there are freelance individuals. Freelance individuals are the ones to be the most wary of. Freelance individuals may advertise a very low price - and it's because they have no staff, no place of business, and no ties to disappear if they wish to. Very few freelance individuals are actual companies or businesses. Most are not registered, do not have an actual website, and may even charge side money to go to their next convention. Be wary of these individuals as they don't follow the same rules as businesses and you will want to collect buyer references, and really know who you are hiring when you contact them on a project. Many many people have been scammed by freelancers who disappear with their money. Be very suspicious if you receive a high rate from a freelancer with no web page or formal company set up. Legitimate businesses charge higher costs to cover the costs of their places of business, taxes, fees, employee costs, and for their level of experience. Freelancers who have none of these things and who try to match costs should be red-flagged.
Can't you just get a pattern from Jo-Ann's or from the Fabric Store and create my costume?
Also not how it works. Stock patterns are designed for individuals who are learning to sew and make projects for themselves or fun. The patterns themselves have been simplified for a basic level of construction and are "dumbed down" for beginners. This means that your favorite movie costume even if it happens to have a pattern isn't going to turn out like an amazing replica from a stock pattern, even if you choose the perfect fabric. The shapes stock patterns use are simplistic for easy to sew and seldom fit the way you want them to without modification. Odds are that there isn't going to be a step by step pattern for the costume you want sewn anyway. If there is something similar it will most likely need style modifications, size modifications, changes in the ease and fit, and detail added back in where it was eliminated. All and all, stock patterns will only be helpful right out of the package if what you are putting together is the image on the pattern cover and if the costume is a beginner level. For all others, you need a professional. If you have a limited budget and can't pay for a replica - we will propose a way to simplify the design costs and details to try to work with your budget or let you know that the budget won't work for what you selected for us to make it.
I just got someone volunteering to do my costume for cheap. How come they are able to do it?
These are the freelancers we spoke about earlier in the FAQ. Watch for red-flags for these individuals. There are legitimate freelancers out there who take on jobs for extra money, are hobbiests, or create things on the cheap to get money for trips, bills, conventions, or to just grow their portfolio. Be prepared that if you are hiring someone inexperienced to work on your commission, it is possible that you will receive a less than professional result. If they are talented, be prepared for rates to go up once they have established their portfolio and have gained experience. Do watch out for individuals who have limited means of being contacted, do not have a professional website or public store, or any professional posted policies. These types of individuals can and may run away with your money with little recourse. Make sure you do extensive research and get all your terms in writing and in detail before dealing with any of these. Unfortunately we cannot match prices from these individuals as we are an established business and have a full staff and place of business and can't do projects for "extra spending money".
FAQ For Clients New To Custom Commissioning
Hiring someone to create a custom piece is not the same as buying something from Amazon, eBay, or from a retail store or manufacturer. Read our FAQ to help understand the process.
Can I purchase my own fabric to discount the costume?
This is probably where we should explain the difference between seamstresses and costume designers. A seamstress takes your project and cuts and puts it together. There is no design work, there is no artistry, they are there to put it together per your instructions. That is the perfect scenario for you to purchase fabric and hand it to a seamstress and ask them to use what's supplied. A costume designer is hired for their ability to design, select of fabrics, and for their artistic eye. Each designer has a style and taste and a number of skills they use to create their pieces. Part of the creative process is for them to select the fabrics they are going to use as it's part of what inspires them. The feel of the fabric, look, color are all things the designer considers when creating your piece. We hope that you are coming to us for those reasons, and we'd rather work with clients who understand that creation is an artistic process and that we need to be allowed to to do what we do best. As well client's who do not understand fabrics and sewing seem to always select the wrong thing for their projects and never quite enough. It always ends up being more time to sort out and coordinate the appropriate choices than it saves in cost. For those reasons we do not allow a client to purchase their own fabric.