DIY - Anime 'Closet' Cosplay

More and more these days the spirit of Halloween is just around the corner. Between holidays, conventions, fairs, and themed parties there is always a reason to dress up in unique and creative ways. In these instances, it’s important to be able to put something together on the fly and having the right materials on hand can go a long way towards saving time and money while making use of what is readily available.   

 What is a Closet Cosplay?

For this project we wanted to see what we could come up with in a limited time for a DIY “closet cosplay”. A fun trend for fans on a budget, a Closet Cosplay is the challenge of dressing up as your favorite character, using items you already have in your closet as a base for the costume, rather than sewing or crafting an entirely new ensemble. At Strapworks, we decided to have a little fun with this idea and tweaked the challenge: What could we find laying around in our offices and warehouse to create a costume worthy of accolades and runway walks? 

The Process

Our first step was deciding what kind of costume to make, with the following goals in mind: 

  • Replicable - We wanted to show that with a few simple steps, anyone would be able to use what they had on hand to make a similar costume, or take inspiration from our process for their own projects  
  • Affordable - Anyone with a few hundred or even a few thousand extra dollars lying arounds could outright buy their favorite character’s outfit, but this was meant to be affordable for everyone, and primarily use materials that people may have lying around in their closets or households.
  • Accessible/Simple - We wanted to do something that would not require specialty hardware, fabrics, or production processes. There’s no need to overcomplicate things, especially while you're strapped or in a bind.  

The Character

Closet Anime CosplaySpeaking of being in a bind, that brings us to who we settled on cosplaying: Hitoshi Shinso from the Anime My Hero Academia, a superhero-in-training who binds his opponents in combat with long strips of cloth. The idea came to us as we were discussing potential costumes which could be fashioned out of what we had in our closets. We realized that we already had a hoodie which matched the design of the training uniform jackets worn by students in the show, and by adding webbing to this, we could capture the look of our chosen character with limited supplies. 

The realization that we had most of the cosplay ready to go with just the hoodie and white webbing really helped us keep our process simple. Arguably, Shinso’s most notable piece of apparel, and the star of this cosplay, is his binding cloth. This could be replicated with simply 20-30 feet of any of our inch and a half white webbing.  
While this worked for out cosplay, we can custom sublimate any color or patterns for your next costume project. 
After considering which webbing would work best for our intended purposes, we decided the best choices were lightweight polypropylene and white, unsublimated mil-spec polyester. Each of these webbings are thin enough to be malleable, so they could be wrapped and folded over themselves with ease. This would give us the appearance of Shinso’s cloth scarf that we were looking for, but they also had the advantage of being light on the neck and shoulders to avoid excessive strain. We found that thin webbings with tight weaves and high tensile strength were best during the photoshoot, as Shino’s scarf is not just aesthetic but functional. The webbing should be able to be thrown at a target without being so heavy that it would just immediately fall to the ground.    

The Materials  

  • Reusable Half-face Respirator (without filters)  
  • A recycled headset
  • 1 1/2 inch White Webbing (Lightweight Polypropylene is a good, affordable choice!)  
  • Temporary Purple Hair Color 
  • Acrylic Gesso Matte Black Primer 
  • Varied Acrylic Paints 
  • A Permanent Marker  
  • Hoodie  

Photo of materials used for our project

 Note: We used a hoodie that already was printed to look like the school training uniform, but a dark blue hoodie and some red & white webbing or fabric paint can be used as well!

We got to work modifying the respirator and headset to more closely resemble Shinso’s mask. This was done by removing the microphone from the headset, sanding it, and painting it a medium gray.    

As for the respirator, we began by removing the filters, from there it was simply a matter of painting the face mask, which began with a coat of primer, followed by mixed layers of metallic and matte black acrylic paint. For the grate in Shinso’s apparatus covering his mouth we used the same gray paint used for the headset and covered it with cross hatched lines drawn with permanent marker, helping it to resemble mesh wiring.    

Finishing Touches

Once the paint had dried it was time to prepare for the photoshoot. Aside from wearing the hoodie, dark or navy-blue pants, the respirator, and the headset, the cosplay consisted of applying our temporary hair color to our model and wrapping our webbing around their neck like a scarf to serve as our binding cloth.   

And voila, our closet cosplay was complete (entirely on schedule). Here was our final result.   

While our cosplay wasn’t perfect, it took little more than some on-hand materials and a dash of creativity to create something fun and wondrous on the fly. So next time you forget to buy a costume for an upcoming event and are strapped for time or money, don’t panic: Get crafting!