First things first, my teammate and I had hella fun just talking about making this article, and with our local AnimeKon back in full swing, we couldn’t think of a better topic to cover for this month’s talk. So a brief explanation to start us off would be…
What is Cosplay?
An abbreviate’ve term for “Costume-role play”, cosplay is in fact, a performative art where fashion accessories and props are worn to pay homage to a character of a specific choice. We refer people who engage in this art form to as cosplayers. Most favorites of this genre and art-form take their inspiration from television characters, manga, cartoons, anime, and even video games.
The origins of this art form began in 1939 in New York as part of the 1st World Science Convention. After being officially coined by the Japanese in 1984, there have been many conventions since then. It is a popular and fun way to make for social gatherings and networking, and there is even a section called “crossplay” where one recreates their favorite cosplay choice as the opposite gender!
Costumes in Cosplay vary and be as simple as a straw hat, red shirt, and jeans to ornate clothing for imperial royalty. There is also armored cosplay, which carries even heavier detail.
Cosplaying in Barbados
As you can guess, here in Barbados, we have a growing Cosplay Culture. Thanks to the efforts of Omar Kennedy and Melissa Young, owners and founders of the AnimeKon Expo there has been an increase in the culture here and thanks to the convention as more and more young creatives find it a safe place and good means of both self-expression and of course, marketing. ;).
Is Cosplaying Hard in Barbados?
Pre-Covid Cosplaying in Barbados was a hurdle, meaning of course the sourcing of raw materials for most items one would need (of course this depends on your choice of cosplay) was already difficult. Finding affordable alternatives has always been a task. But as always, Barbadians remain a resilient and creative people, finding multiple ways to draft much-needed alternatives and surrogates whilst still delivering quality content!
From cardboard mache to silicone crowns, Barbadians have taken to the hardware stores, and crafts shops and even created in-house shops to assist other creatives who are in search of similar products!
Is there a Cosplay Culture in Barbados?
Yes, there is! As fellow geeks and geekettes (is that a word? We should make that word!) finding a space that allows us to be us is a much-needed therapy! Creatives plan annually for the AnimeKon Expo, some for the competitions and performances whilst others sign up for group cosplays where they all dress as a team of people from a similar division or clique (e.g. some cosplayers will dress up as the Vongola Familia based on the anime Hitman: Reborn).
Within the 10 years of AnimeKon, the cosplay community has grown to where some cosplayers such as Shasam Cosplay (Shannon Kennedy) have even visited schools!
The culture has continually made a positive impact on the youth and the older generation as well. What was once seen as a hobby is steadily growing into something bigger!
Where Do I Find Cosplay Materials in Barbados?
You can find cosplay materials almost anywhere in Barbados. Cosplays can be extremely versatile and materials can vary for an endless amount of characters. That being said, there are some key common cosplay materials many cosplayers need. Let’s go through some common cosplay materials and where to find them in Barbados.
Hair and Makeup
Hair and makeup are huge aspects of character designs, so getting the perfect wig and makeup done can be what nails your cosplays. Wigs don’t have to be expensive. A cheap wig, a good dye job and styling could be what makes a perfect cosplay.
Beautylicious is a beauty supply store in Barbados that sells wigs and other beauty products. This store’s wigs come in a variety of colours, so you, styles and textures. Along with wigs, this store also sells bundles and other hair styling products you can use for affordable cosplay in Barbados. The wigs from this store can range anywhere between $15 to $300 BDS.
Reigning Beauty is a beauty supply store that sells cosmetics and other beauty products. They have products like foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, eyelashes and more. These basic products are useful for cosplay. Their prices range from $9 to $25 USD.
Fabric and Sewing Materials
Clothes are arguably the most important aspect of cosplay, which is why it is so important to nail down. You can buy separate clothing pieces and put them together to make a whole cosplay. Sometimes, though, you might need to create custom pieces or even the complete outfit on your own. Down below are some stores that sell fabrics and other cheap cosplay materials.
This store sells a variety of fabrics and patterns, which you can use to create pieces for cosplay in Barbados. There is also a discount section where you can buy different fabrics for prices ranging from $5 to $15 BDS per yard. This store also sells buttons, pins, ribbons and other sewing materials.
This is also a store in Barbados which sells fabrics and other materials. Didiers sells a variety of fabrics and materials like buttons and elastic at an affordable price. They also sell small accessories like chokers!
The icing on the cosplay cake is prop designs. Props can totally elevate a cosplay and take it to the next level. Props in cosplay are unique to every character, so the materials to make them are very diverse. Down below are some stores where you can find some common cosplay prop materials.
Carters is a hardware store in Barbados. They also sell power tools, chains, bolts, hammers and similar products. We could use these products in cosplays either as props or to make props.
Do It Best is also a hardware store which sells similar products to Carters. Hardware materials can be very useful for constructing props or even clothing pieces in cosplay, like armour.
Laurie dash sells a wide variety of materials that you could use in cosplay, like paint, flowers stickers and more. This store sells such a wide variety of products that it’s best to go in and look for yourself.
The Art Hub is an art store in Barbados. This store sells fabric paint, neon paint, paintbrushes and other useful materials. They also sell construction paper, which you can use in cosplay to make things like paper wigs.
Sheraton is home to a variety of stores. You can find a variety of materials for both clothing and props for affordable cosplay in Barbados.