Cosplay (short for costume play) has seen an explosion in popularity since the advent of social media. Not only for Halloween, Renaissance fairs, and other holiday-themed events, but also for comic cons, gaming cons, sci-fi/fantasy cons, anime cons, and any convention themed around a particular genre of fandom. Instagram and YouTube celebrities have turned to playing a character into a whole side career. Burning Man and other specialized niche events also stoke the trend.
While the cosplay culture has a strong DIY ethic, it saves a lot of work if you can at least get a tailor-made outfit to then customize and accessorize with your personal artistic touches. No matter what kind of character you’re going to be, these online retailers are the top places to find cosplay gear. This list is made with the effort of covering any fandom or occasion.
Milanoo is a general-purpose fashion boutique that also has a huge cosplay selection. Side by side with wear for every occasion, from casual to formal to bridal, they also have a selection of costumes for comic and movie characters, anime, dance and theater, lingerie, and period costumes from aesthetics such as steampunk, Gothic, and Roaring ’20s flappers. They also offer niche specialties like zentai and catsuits. Their sale prices during the Halloween season are very reasonable too.
A highly focused site that sells exactly what the name promises. They have a sizable selection of cosplay gear listed by franchise, most of it Asian-centric with video games such as Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario and anime/manga extending to Sailor Moon, Naruto, and of course the ever-popular Death Note. They also carry accessories like wigs and make-up.
Another focused site catering to the anime/manga crowd, you’ll find detailed, quality get-ups for series such as Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and My Hero Academia. They also have western Halloween gear for Stephen King’s It and The Addams’ Family, a selection of wigs and accessories, and a category for plus-sizes and couple cosplay sets.
A massive retail outlet with high-end gear, this site specializes in comic character gear for Marvel and DC characters, such as Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, Batwoman, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and of course the spectacular Spider-Man. They also have a section for other franchises in TV and film. Their prices are on the more expensive end, but these are movie-grade quality costumes, faithful down to the last detail.
Another huge store with a broad selection, organized by comics, anime, TV, film, and video game characters. They have a comprehensive selection at midline prices, including Disney characters like Princess Jasmine, TV shows like Stranger Things, movies from Lord of the Rings to Pirates of the Caribbean, franchises like Harry Potter and Star Trek, and games such as Bioshock and World of Warcraft. One of the few places where you can outfit a crew of four with Kill Bill characters counting Elle’s homicidal nurse get-up, O-ren Ishi, Gogo Yubari and her chain weapon, and The Bride in her yellow jumpsuit. They also have a large selection of props, for weapons, shields, staves, and jewelry.
Another midrange site with a broad selection, but this one is well-organized with a comprehensive one-stop approach to character assembly. They cater to DC and Marvel comics, video game franchises, TV and film, anime, and general-purpose characters as well. You can find outfits of real-life characters such as Marilyn Monroe, cross-gendered comic characters, and off-beat fan gear. Meanwhile, if you’re outfitting Link from Legend of Zelda, you get everything from the green peasants’ garb to the Triforce necklace.
A special mention goes out to Etsy, which is an open eCommerce site with independent retailers that’s especially cosplay-friendly. Etsy brings together many niche retailers for a boutique experience, housing everything from fully-assembled Deadpool and Wolverine duds to supplies and accessories for assembling costumes from scratch. Etsy fosters a hardy community of hands-on DIY die-hards, so if you’re designing your own chain mail or inventing your own take on stock fantasy characters from angels to elves, this is worth a look.