At New York Comic Con 2017 we were lucky to have a moment with Kathy Wiktor of the McCall Pattern Company. What became clear was that Cosplay by McCall’s is truly fan inspired and for the cosplay community. It’s also proof that the cosplay community is growing in all directions. When I started cosplaying, I hunted high and low for patterns that I could modify to fit my vision. I even purchased rare and out of print patterns on ebay. I’m happy to know the passion is speading. Now was my chance to find out the creative process behind McCall’s cosplay pattern line.
Q: What was the inspiration for starting a cosplay specific line of patterns?
A: Well, we were inspired by someone who worked in our factory in Kansas who told us what a huge industry cosplay could be for us. She was a cosplayer with her daughter and she did a report for us and we came to Comic Con based on her recommendations and we saw all the wonderful cosplayers. We realized that cosplay wasn’t just taking Halloween costumes and doing them up with a few accessories. It really was a very artistic form of expression. We also realized the cosplayer is a younger customer who shops online and we felt they really deserved to have their own collection, curated, and with features that our regular costume patterns do not have.
Q: Given that cosplay has been around for a long time, was there any anxiety that cosplayers would resist a line of patterns marketed to them?
A: We were a little nervous about it but we tried to be respectful of the cosplayers and we didn’t want to say, “oh we are cosplay experts,” because we’re not but we are sewing experts. So we took a leap of faith and said let’s just research everything very carefully, talk to cosplayers. We had focus groups – we asked them what they wanted and we try to give them what we thought they would like. We were happy that we were pretty well recieved when we came out with the product.
Q: Some of the patterns seem to draw from existing fandoms, would you say that’s intentional or purely coincidental?
A: It’s a little bit of both. We really don’t want to knock off any particular characters but we would like to address different fandoms and really we are providing our customers with a base and they can create their own idea of what they want to be. But we have to photograph them and make them look good. We have to be creative with what we’re doing so hopefully you’re inspired by what we have. We’re not preaching what it should be.
Q: How do you pick cosplayers for designing patterns?
A: Some people have approached and we researched the work that they did. We are looking for people who are real artesans and we are very lucky we have Joshua Hart – who was actually introduced to us by someone who met him at an alumn event and I was blown away by his talent. Then I found out he has a huge following – lucky for me. Other people we just research their specialities. Another, Kelly Cercone from Anachronism In Action. We knew she was a professional customer. Becca Noel was well known for her Worbla armor. So research and some people reach out to us.
Q: Are they given any guidance or suggestions when designing the pattern?
A: No. We want to see their ideas first so I ask them to submit what they’d like to do. And then we have to direct them with pattern pieces and construction so that all of the pattern pieces and instructions will fit in our envelopes. We are letting them be creative because that’s what they do. That’s what they’re known for so we’re not going to tell them what to do.
Q: Where do you see Cosplay by McCall’s going in the future?
A: I hope that it will be a little bigger than it is now. It is just starting out. It is a niche brand so it’s obviously not going to sell as much as our core pattern line. But we’d like it to be a steady line of patterns that come in and we’ll keep bringing in new designs and experiment with props and worbla. We’re gonna branch out and we’d like to offer more designs. We always listen to the customer and what they want so everyone should give their suggestions to us.
Q: What is your favorite pattern?
A: My favorite pattern is the Sentinel which is an elf. It is very versitile. We’ve seen it made by a lot of cosplayers. It’s photographed as an elf but I’ve seen it done as a pirate, space heroine… it’s got a good body. It’s got princess seams, a vest, a hood, guantlet – so you can really do a lot with it.