It’s time for another interview, this time with Kumalatte Cosplay! She’s a cosplayer from Georgia, who loves playing with different fabrics and enjoys the sewing of her pieces!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My alias is Kumalatte Cosplay! I chose my alias because I initially started out on social media as a cosplay duo, and we both loved the Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma bears. They’re both brown and cream colored, so they reminded me of lattes, hence the latte part! The irony is I never drank coffee up until late last year. Thanks, adulthood!
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I cosplayed for the first time in 2011! I remember wanting to go to cons far longer than that, but when I discovered that cons existed near me, I went wild. I felt terrible existing at a con without a cosplay, so I tried my best to get something made for the next con. My first cosplay, Tetra from Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, was commissioned from a friend of my dad’s, and I hated it. It was fun to wear, but I wanted to be involved in the creation process too! So my dad (very, VERY reluctantly) taught me how to sew, and I very gradually learned how to construct garments from there. Not everything I made was cosplay; I made a lot of fleece hats, skirts, formal wear, as well as some small props and nerdy inspired crafts here and there as gifts for friends. It wasn’t until I moved out to Atlanta for college that the cosplay community truly swept me away, and I’ve been scaring my neighbors by walking out of my house in different cosplays ever since!
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Fabrics!! I don’t tend to fall in love with armored characters, but luckily my love has always been for sewing. Since I’ve started cosplaying, the availability of cool fabrics has exploded – there’s a 90% chance you’ll find me at the color-shifting, holographic, or sparkly fabric section of your local fabric store. I have a lot of fun in the planning stages of a cosplay, figuring out what kind of fabrics would help translate a character to life and knowing I have full creative freedom to use whatever I like. One characters design can be interpreted in so many ways by hundreds of people; why strive to be the “best, most accurate” one of all when you can just make it something that’s uniquely your own – and looks rad hanging in your closet.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
Armor and props, actually! It’s hard to believe I’ve been cosplaying for 9 years and have never really attempted armor. I bought my first heat gun and dremel late last year, and I’ve been looking into different types of foam since my next six projects all need armor and props. It might be overkill to do that much as a beginner, and part of me feels like a “lesser” cosplayer because I don’t have refined foam crafting skills (I’m not, but boy does it feel like it!), but part of me is grateful that I’ve waited this long to tackle it. The accessibility to materials, tools, and tutorials is insane, to the point I can acquire all of those within 5 miles of my house! So I feel confident knowing that I have a plethora of resources and friends to help me if I struggle with it initially.
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I love seeing originality! Like I mentioned before, cosplay has become so massive, any one character design can be cosplayed by dozens or thousands of people. Its great to see someone work incredibly hard to look like they’re the literal character come to life, but seeing a cosplayer REALLY make the character their own is what steals my heart. And it doesn’t take much to make a cosplay unique! It can be something as small as using an unconventional wig, or a unique fabric, altering a fantastical character to be more realistic or a realistic character to be more fantastical. There really is no one who can tell you no, so watching people go crazy and stupid with this sort of freedom reminds me why I spend countless dollars and hours to be in this community.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
It’s definitely grown and evolved a lot since I’ve started, that’s for sure! I spent the majority of my cosplay life fearing letting anyone in my daily life know I was a cosplayer. And I honestly still do! From the outside, we really do look like a bunch of freaks spending time and money to become fictional characters for a few hours a year. I’m glad that it’s becoming more accepted and known thanks to media and the growth of “nerdy” pop culture, because I really don’t think my life could have taken me towards any other path. As an artist, crafter, life-long nerd, and owner of too much chaotic energy that demands to be released through constant creating, my fate feels like it was always going to be tied to cosplay somehow. The cosplay community really is the perfect place for me and so many other creative people, so I’m very grateful that the nerds of the past braved cosplaying in public so that we could see Yaya Han’s face gracing the Cosplay aisles of Joann Fabrics. And maybe even tell the employees at the cutting counter what were cosplay we’re buying that fabric for.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
There are a couple of problems I’ve seen externally and internally. By externally, I mean the people who aren’t really in the cosplay community themselves, but support cosplayers or involve themselves in other nerdy, cosplay-adjacent communities. I feel like the general acceptance of cosplays that don’t follow the canon hasn’t really reached them, so I still see them hyper focus on accuracy. I still see a lot of negative comments and bullying of POC cosplayers, a lot of “Best Cosplays of xxxCon” and “Top 10 xxxx Cosplayers” lists, and a very biased view of what makes a cosplayer considered good. I don’t feel like it discourages me anymore, but like I said before, it makes me weary of the public view of cosplay and how it can impact people wanting to start cosplaying, but feel like the community is too competitive and “vile” when it really isn’t.
Internally, there is still a good bit of elitism and an emphasis on popularity that can’t be ignored. I remember seeing a post on Facebook years ago about how someone wanted to start cosplaying, and wanted to know how much to “invest” monthly so they could become a popular cosplayer (their budget was $1k a month, too!?) and it made my heart sink. The premise of being a “full-time” cosplayer sounds amazing, but I’ve seen that pursuit take the fun out of cosplay for people very quickly. Like any profession, it’s not as glamorous as it seems, and more visibility can lead to more online negativity than some people can handle – especially if you’re a POC cosplayer. If someone succeeds at making it to the level of full time, professional cosplayer, I commend them, but it can be very problematic when people make that their initial goal for getting into cosplay, and I hope that the few cosplayers that have achieved it can be more transparent about what being a professional cosplayer is truly like.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Cosplay isn’t going anywhere. Not anytime soon, at least. I remember being 14, and feeling so frustrated that I wasn’t able to make super elaborate cosplays from the get go. I wasn’t able to buy things online by myself, couldn’t drive myself to cons, and could barely make cosplays without my dad, who really disapproved of cosplay for a while. All that came with time, and 8 years later the cosplay community is still thriving! But even with 9 years and lot of projects under my belt, I still consider myself an amateur cosplayer. I still make lots of mistakes on every cosplay. I still buy not enough fabric, and look at other people’s cosplays and scream “why can’t I make that yet??” I still have tons of techniques to learn, and I realistically don’t feel like I’ll develop my skills to a professional level for at least another 6-8 years. Thankfully, I’m in no rush to become a master cosplayer any more! Cosplay takes a lot of practice, dedication, time, and MONEY above all, and I think new cosplayers can get overwhelmed easily because of it. So my main piece of advice is: take your time entering the cosplay community. Enjoy that awkward period of starting out, and don’t be afraid of failure. You’ll look back on those times in enough time, and you’ll have a lot more interesting stories to tell than the people who got everything right the first time. Ask me about how many wigs I’ve fried and how many skirts I’ve destroyed with my serger!
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I think Anime Weekend Atlanta and HolMat take the cake for me. I’ve been going to AWA since 2011, and I initially only did the basic stuff of walk-in around the dealers room with my dad and brother, go to a panel, play a game in the arcade, and leave. But ever since I’ve gotten more involved with the Atlanta community, there’s not enough days of the con for everything I want to do! AWA in particular does a great job of inviting amazing Japanese guests and performers (the Daoko concert in 2018 is one of the best moments of my life), the venue is gorgeous, and the party atmosphere at night is incredible. I haven’t been going to HolMat for as long, but it earns a spot with AWA because of how relaxed the con atmosphere is. It’s holiday themed, but also in Florida, so there’s people in fluffy fleece costumes, and then people in swimsuits right next to them. Plus there’s a good amount of Atlanta cosplayers that attend, so I usually make a lot of new friends while seeing old ones, too!
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
My Galo Thymos pants have socks sewn onto the pant holes. They are red and fuzzy. Their primary purpose was to keep the pants tucked into my shoes, since they’d slip out anytime I posed. But they actually contribute a lot to the dimensional poofy silhouette, since it keeps the pant leg opening curved, and they help my feet fill in the massive platform shoes that didn’t come into my actual shoe size of 4. So that’s proof that even the dumbest of problem solving ideas can work better than imagined!
Thanks for the interview, Kumalatte Cosplay! You can check out her Facebook page here!