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McCall Pattern Co. is targeting the alternative fashion world with new patterns that are adapted to the specific needs of cosplayers and costume makers.

The cosplayer world is becoming bigger and more important to fabric companies and craft stores. It’s growing so quickly, that a company like McCall’s, which dates back to 1863, has radically changed its approach to pattern-making.

“We realized there was something here,” said Janet Wolf, the vice president of marketing at McCall’s. “We’re comfortable building this business and we think it’s a growth area.”

Cosplay by McCall’s has issued three new patterns that are priced between $17.95 and $19.95. They are printed on sturdier, brighter paper that is intended to be used repeatedly. The cosplayers like to take a base pattern and then make adjustments to fit a particular character. The envelopes are also more artistic than the standard pattern envelope and the company took extra care and time with the photography.

“Cosplayers who make their own costumes are incredibly resourceful stitchers and stylists, possibly the most resourceful,” said Kathleen Wiktor, director of retail and consumer promotions for McCall’s. “These deeply engaged superfans could never be satisfied with an ‘off the shelf’ look. That’s what we set out to help them achieve with ‘Cosplay by McCall’s.’”

An employee at McCall’s was given credit for bringing the cosplayer market to the company’s attention. Cosplayers are fans that create elaborate costumes based on their favorite characters. There is also an alternative fashion scene that is related that caters to Lolitas, Victorian enthusiasts and Steampunk. McCall’s opened a booth at the comic convention known as “Comic Con” and were overwhelmed by eager fans.

The average attendance at a comic con is between 5,000 and 10,000 people and they spend roughly $175 each. With 360 conventions annually, cosplayers can generate millions of dollars in apparel related spending. RuffleCon is a smaller alternative fashion event that draws more than 500 attendees.

McCall’s has been mining its archives looking for patterns that can be directed to specialized alternative fashions. For example, a parasol can be used by a Lolita-styled costumer.

“One of the wonderful things about this movement its very non-judgmental. We will be coming out with patterns in misses and women’s sizes and some unisex,” Wolf said. “People like to gender bend.”

McCall’s plans to align itself with a variety of top designers in the cosplay industry and the company is equally interested in teaching sewing techniques to the newcomers. “We’re a very old company and this is a very modern phenomenon,” Wolf said.

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