What is cosplay?

What is cosplay? Cosplay is known as both a popular hobby and a kind of art, or even a way to earn money. 

What does the cosplay name mean?

In order to understand what this type of art is all about, you first need to explain where the name actually came from. That alone tells us a lot. The word cosplay was created from the combination of two other words of English origin. These are the words:

  • Costume – meaning costume, outfit,
  • Play – meaning play, game.

Cosplay in the simplest translation, referring to the name of this art, can mean dressing up for fun.

What is cosplay mostly about?

Although eva foam, most commonly used to create cosplay, can be used to make almost anything, usually those who deal with this type of art have their favorite areas of pop culture from which they draw inspiration. These are primarily all kinds:

  • anime,
  • cartoons,
  • Comics,
  • manga,
  • TV series,
  • Computer games,
  • Blockbuster movie hits.

Where did the idea for cosplay come from?

Many people claim that the history of cosplay dates back to the 15th century. Already then, during carnivals, people dressed up as various popular figures for fun and entertainment purposes. Although the handicrafts used to create costumes were much more difficult to obtain then than today, this custom did not lose its popularity. On the contrary, it grew and intensified especially during the Renaissance, and Italian Venice is famous for this kind of boisterous carnival parties, the main attraction of which are richly decorated costumes and costumes.

In the 19th century, the custom was rediscovered in England, where the upper class found joy in throwing parties focused on dressing up as celebrities. Here, the custom resembled more and more modern cosplay. The characters that were chosen as the object of costumes were usually taken from the currently popular or simply favorite works of William Shakespeare or Alexander Dumas. So the parties were crowded with musketeers, Hamlets and fairies or elves, although imitating the latter is certainly easier today, when foam tapes are used to create characteristic ears and wings . In the 19th century, traditional handicrafts made of fabric, paper and wood had to be used for this purpose .

However, the question still remains, can all these dressings be called cosplay? The controversy concerns the fact that cosplay is to faithfully reproduce the appearance of a given character. If characters from books or written plays were reproduced, it is difficult to talk about one-to-one reproduction of the characters. It was rather an interpretation of the author’s descriptions and there was a lot of freedom here, which is impossible to find in real cosplay.

The first cosplay in today’s meaning of the word appeared only in the 20th century. This became possible thanks to the emergence of a new form of artistic expression, which was the comic book. Initially, these were short comic strips appearing in newspapers. The first picture story of this type were stories about a character called Skygack, who came from Mars, and thus stayed on Earth in a specific costume. It was this costume that probably became the object of the first cosplay. His photo in the newspaper has been preserved – dated 1912.

Another milestone in the history of cosplay was the First World Science-Fiction Convention. It took place in 1939, then for the first time fans of this type of pop culture appeared in public in costumes imitating their favorite characters, which quickly became not only a tradition, but also a fashion over time, and later even a kind of duty for fans attending all kinds of conventions.

Over time, the availability of handicraft items began to increase , making cosplaying very accessible. The universality of eva foam and all kinds of foam tapes meant that everyone can cosplay their favorite character and more and more people choose this way to spend their free time.

Now, the roles have reversed somewhat. It’s often not that people cosplay to go to a convention, but conventions are organized to showcase fan-made cosplay.

What is cosplay made of?

The history of cosplay proves that the materials from which the costumes were made have changed dramatically over the centuries. For obvious reasons , handicrafts of decidedly natural origin were popular in the 15th century . Costumes were made primarily of various types of fabrics, such as linen or wool. Accessories were made of wood, or possibly light metals. And so it remained for a very long time.

Only the twentieth century brought a breakthrough. The invention of polymers enabled the creation of not only plastic, but thanks to them we have all kinds of foam tapes and eva foam available . These materials are light and very plastic, and working with them is very easy and not difficult, so they significantly contributed to the popularization of cosplay.