While #cosplayers and #fursuiters both share a love of wearing #costumes, there are some distinct differences between the two groups. Technically, #fursuiting can be regarded as a type of #cosplay, but the differences tend to cause many to view them as being almost independent of each other.
The Fandoms that Inspire Cosplayers Versus the Furry Fandom
What motivates cosplayers to create and wear their costumes are the myriad intellectual properties (or IP’s) that are typically part of one of the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, superhero, horror, etc. Each IP is a unique and self-contained universe that includes a specific set of characters created by the IP owner(s), and each character (or type of character) will typically have one, or several, costumes associated with it.
In contrast to each of the IP-based fandoms, the furry fandom is comprised of individuals who are drawn to anthropomorphic animal characters that aren’t generally owned or part of any particular IP. “Anthropomorphic” refers to the association of human characteristics and behaviors to an animal. A typical anthropomorphic character is bipedal (as opposed to quadrupedal, which is typically how most vertebrate animals move & walk), has paw-like hands that include opposable thumbs like humans, etc. While not an aspect of anthropomorphism, furry fandom characters often (but not always) have a cartoonish (or “toony”) appearance: oversized heads, oversized eyes, oversized mouths, oversized hands, oversized feet, colors not typically found in nature, highly defined borders between colors, etc.
Predominant Costume Type Differences (Canon Versus Custom)
As the previous section suggests, while cosplayers typically reproduce an existing canon character that originated from within a particular IP, fursuiters typically create their own unique characters based solely upon their own designs. Thus, nearly all fursuits are custom furry costumes. (In designing a fursuit, a furry may be inspired by the works of other fursuiters and possibly furry characters from some IP’s, but the designs are generally regarded as being the unique design of the furry in an effort to embody his or her so-called “fursona”. A fursuit may also be designed based upon, or incorporating aspects of, someone else’s copyrighted unique anthropomorphic species with their permission. There are a few copyrighted unique species types within the furry fandom that require obtaining permission before someone can create a character based upon that copyrighted species.)
Now, while it’s both common and widely accepted for cosplayers to create customized versions of existing IP characters, it is both uncommon and not widely accepted for someone to create a modified version of someone else’s fursuit. The reason for this is due to the very personal nature of a “fursona” within the furry fandom. Any furry (a member of the furry fandom) can create his or her own fursona, which is a furry’s personal identify within the furry fandom that is based upon his or her own personally designed anthropomorphic character. Thus, to create a slightly modified version of someone else’s fursuit is akin to hijacking their personal fursona.
Character Recognizability Differences
Because various IP’s and their characters are often widely known by both the fandoms and general public at large, the costumes from those IP’s that cosplayers wear are typically widely recognized by many people. Conversely, because the fursuits that fursuiters wear are often of their own personal designs, they aren’t typically widely known outside of the furry fandom. Thus, a fursuit character that may be popular within the furry fandom itself won’t be widely recognized by the public at large. The general public will know that it’s a costume (and possibly that it’s a fursuit associated with the furry fandom), but not the character itself.
Naturally, we can’t have a discussion about differences between cosplayers and fursuiters without mentioning the fur itself. This is because only a small fraction of characters from various IP’s that cosplayers like to cosplay are furry, so not many cosplayers wear furry costumes associated with those characters; and, when they do wear them, they are not wearing them as part of the furry fandom, but as part of their celebration of the IP that the furry character originated from.
Some furry IP characters that aren’t uncommon for cosplayers to wear as costumes (but only as a small percentage of the entire cosplay community at large) for include the following:
- Chewbacca (from “Star Wars”)
- A Wampa (from “Star Wars”)
- An Ewok (from “Star Wars”)
- Rocket the Raccoon (from Marvel Comics’ “Guardians of the Galaxy”)
But none of these furry costumes (or possible derivatives) are common within the furry fandom.
Various Cultural Differences
There are a number of cultural differences between cosplayers and fursuiters.
- As we mentioned above, there is a large cultural difference between what motivates people to cosplay versus was motivates people to fursuit. Also, there is a significant difference in how the fursuit is very likely a representation of the wearer’s own personal fursona that he or she created, not the reproduction of an existing character from an IP.
- Fursuiters have developed a jargon specific to their fursuits that isn’t used by cosplayers.
- Obviously, the understanding of how to work with faux fur isn’t as widely well known among cosplayers as it is among fursuiters.
- Fursuiters tend to attend furry conventions and might attend a comic or anime convention, but cosplayers don’t generally attend furry conventions (at least not in non-fursuit costumes) as they’re more focused on the comic and anime conventions that are better suited to the cosplays & characters.
- Dancing in costume is very common among fursuiters and furry conventions typically have dance competitions for costumed attendees. Dance competitions are not part of comic or anime conventions, so dancing while in costume isn’t part of the cosplay community at large as it is within the fursuiting community.
Costume Cost Differences
In terms of having a complete costume made by someone for yourself, on average, a typical cosplay costume is probably going to be less costly than a fursuit. The creation of a fursuit (at a minimum) requires a head, handpaws and footpaws; and the head is often one of the most expensive items because of the amount of time required to sculpt the foam into an appropriate shape before applying the various types of fur to it.
A complete full fursuit (meaning that it fully covers the wearer), at a minimum, will likely cost at least $3000. The cost can very quickly go up from there depending upon the species type, how realistic it looks, how complex the patterns are, if electronics are used, whether the mouth can move, etc. The most expensive fursuits have sold for more than $10,000. The most expensive one that we know of sold last year for $17,000. We don’t know of any cosplay that comes close to that in terms of cost.
Many cosplay costumes cost well below $1000, such as Spider-Man, Doctor Who, Deadpool, a variety of Star Wars characters, a variety of Star Trek characters, etc. The high-quality faux-fur that is recommended for fursuits is rather expensive and the construction of a complete fursuit can require many yards of faux fur fabric.