So you want to buy a cosplay online and have no idea where or how to start? I’ll break it down for you and even discuss my own experience with buying cosplay online. If this is your first cosplay, start here!
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to sew (as may be your case as well). My first ever cosplay was in September of 2015. I agonized over this costume. I wanted to make it myself and had saved tons of tutorials to my computer. I was determined I was going to make my cosplay… Until I realized I didn’t have a sewing machine and literally had no experience with one. That’s okay though. I’ve since bought my cosplay and plan on revisiting it later when I’m more skilled and knowledgeable to handcraft it like I had originally planned (maybe).
Before you consider buying your cosplay online:
- Press Start. Ask your fellow cosplayers! Ask your friends and family! Where do they buy their cosplays? Are there sites or sellers or commissioners they would recommend? Do they have cosplays for sell? Would they mind helping you make your cosplay? Start in your immediate circle before branching out. You’d be surprised that you may not even have to buy your cosplay from a website!
- Research. Take this time to Google what you can. Write down site names, look for reviews on these sites (youtube and the reviews on the sites themselves are good places to start), and cross off the poorly reviewed ones. There’s also groups on Facebook that have cosplays and wigs for sale, offer commissions, etc. Check out the blacklist in these groups too; if they don’t seem to have one, message a moderator and ask for the list. Those are the people you shouldn’t do business with. If you choose to go the Facebook route, pay with PayPal using Goods & Services. The seller will pay the fees and if anything goes wrong, you can file to get your money back with PayPal.
- Check out commissions. If you know someone, or even someone who knows someone, who has a portfolio to show off their sewing and crafting skills, it wouldn’t hurt to get your cosplay priced out by them. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely be paying for materials and labor, not just materials! You’re paying for high quality work here too. This cosplay should last and last (with the right seamstress).
When you buy your cosplay online:
- Look for your costume specifically. What I mean is: look up the costume by your character’s name and the name of the show. You’ll get better, filtered results this way. No one wants to dig through hundreds of pages for a Sailor Moon costume with things like “crescent moon necklaces” and “lunar eclipse sunglasses” popping up alongside the actual costumes.
- Look at the reviews for your costume. Say you’re on AliExpress. The store you’re shopping with has high reviews and lots of favorites! Sounds like it’s pretty reputable. Now, when you get to your costume, look at its reviews. These are separate from the stores reviews and favorites. Sometimes they’ll even have pictures with reviews which I love and count on the most. This helps you know what you’re really getting!
- Compare prices. Now it’s time to really utilize those browser tabs! Find your cosplay on several pages and compare the prices! Lower is not always better but it’d good to know the average price for the cosplay itself.
- Get out the tape measure. You’ll need to measure yourself for the best fit. Most likely your cosplay will be in standard Chinese sizes which differ from what you’re used to! So get out that fashion tape measure that you bought years ago and take your measurements: neck, chest/bust, waist, hips, arm, inseam. See this link here for how to measure yourself!
- Compare your measurements to the provided sizes. Click on the sizing chart. Most cosplays should have a sizing chart available. If not, contact the seller for one. Now most people will be between sizes. My personal rule of thumb is to buy the size that accommodates my largest measurement which is my hips. I can get the rest of the cosplay tailored if needed. The flipside is to think about how the cosplay should fit you: Should it drape and flow? Should it be tight and form fitting? Using your measurements, choose the best size for you. Another option is to see or ask the seller if they offer custom sizing, then you can give your measurements to the seller. Always add a little wiggle room in your measurements if going with a custom option!
- Email the seller any questions. Ask them about sizing, fabrics, shipping, when you would receive it, or anything you need to know before you place your order. This is a great opportunity to feel out the seller and make sure you’re getting what you pay for!
- Order the closest size to your measurements. After double checking your measurements and asking the seller all of your questions, it’s time to place your order!
After your cosplay arrives:
- Carefully inspect the cosplay and all the accessories. First insure that you have received the full cosplay you ordered. Check that all pieces are accounted for. Next, check for loose threads, glue, missing buttons, stains or anything that is not right. Take photos of any damage for reference. Unfortunately, things happen, and if your cosplay is damaged or missing pieces, it’s time to email the seller. If everything is right…
- It’s time to try it on. Hopefully those measurements were right and your new cosplay fits like a glove… or however it’s supposed to! Take pictures of the front, sides, and back to make sure it all fits right. If it’s uncomfortably loose in some areas, it’s time to take it to the tailor. If it’s too tight, double check the measurements and politely contact the seller.
- Test it with your wig, shoes and make up. Once your cosplay is the right fit, it’s time to put it all together before the con. Make last minute adjustments and buy any necessary accessories.
- Leave an honest review. Just do it! Now everyone else can find a great cosplay and reliable seller like you.
Places to buy your cosplay from:
- Facebook Groups – Before doing a search for your cosplay and size, take a look at all the files and documents for the group. This should include a blacklist. Stay away from anyone on that list! They are a no-go for purchasing your cosplay. Ask for pictures of the cosplay and up close pictures of damage. Always use PayPal’s goods and services when purchasing from individuals. They will get charged a small fee, but PayPal protects you if something goes wrong. If a seller asks you to pay through PayPal’s friends and family, it might be a scam!
- Etsy – Choose a shop with tons of reviews and read them all: the good and the bad. Take into account the complaint and how the seller handled the situation. Look at their listings and note the quality of their skills. If you’re still unsure, send them a polite message about the cosplay they have listed.
- Ebay – Be wary if you decide to go the Ebay route. See if anyone has purchased the cosplay before and see if they wrote a review. Read all the rates and feedback on the seller before making a purchase and don’t be afraid to ask for more pictures or precise measurements! Many times stock photos will be used over and over again so check that if the seller is using a stock photo that their own logo is on it.
- AliExpress – This site should come with a big, fat warning sticker. Be aware that everything ships from China and could takes months to arrive. Research any shops you’re considering buying from. Read all the reviews on the shop then all the reviews on the cosplay. Try to find reviews with pictures. Research the hell out of this one before making a purchase.
- Other sites: EZCosplay, CosplayMagic, Uwowo, CosplaySky, Hello Cosplay, Amazon, HotTopic
- Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not making your cosplay.
- Make sure your cosplay is comfortable for sitting, standing, and walking.
- Do your research on any and every seller and website.
- When leaving a review, add photos.
- Iron your costume (if possible) before the con. Shipping adds folds to the garment and a quick ironing will take them out!
- Now get out there and cosplay!
Got any tips for buying a cosplay online? Share them in the comments!