Recently, I got together with a group of 20 cosplayers and we each bought a copy of Fashionpedia when they launched their Kickstarter back in March 2016.
I was really excited to get a copy since I am a big fan of another book they created - The Fashionary - which has fine outlines of figures, so you can draw consistent designs over top. They even have variations for men and shoes. I just did my first read through the Fashionpedia and here are my impressions .
Note on Images: All subsequent photos are from Fashionary's website so that I don't post anything beyond what they are willing to share because copyrights are a thing.
What is the Fashionpedia?
"A visual fashion dictionary covering all the technical terms from style to material to production with illustrations and infographics."
The Fashionpedia is heavy on showing rather than telling which is refreshing because clothing and fabric are very focused on appearance and can be very nuanced. The goal of the book is for fashion students and professionals to have an easy go-to resource where they can quickly access information related to fashion. Even though it is targeted to those in the fashion industry, it can have many uses for a cosplayer.
Look and Feel
The cloth bound book with a bound bookmark is a about 1.5 pounds and has a clever cover that looks like a clothing tag. The thick pages can sometimes stick together, which won't be a problem after a little use. The colour scheme- black, grey, and gold - used for text and graphics is aesthetically nice but can be a little difficult to read depending on the lighting. The layout and design of the content are clean and crisp.
In first four chapters - History & Style, Apparel, Details, Accessories - use illustrations to show the difference in fashion over time and the nuanced difference between the styles of modern garments. Occasionally, it will single out a garment for a little history. It is basic information and good for reference, however, it is highly western focused. The fashion history section is almost exclusively European and North American fashion with the rare reference to styles from other regions. As cosplayer, these chapters are useful for picking up the right terminology for garments and construction. For example, in the detail section about sleeves you can see all the different silhouettes and shapes, and knowing the right term can help you narrow down your search for a tutorial, pattern, or seller to make or buy it.
Where the book shines bright for me are the later chapters: Textile, Manufacturing, Body & Beauty, and Measurement & Care. It is filled with diagrams and flow charts (I like flowcharts <3) for almost everything fashion related which can help you make the right choices such as the different types of dye, sources of textiles, types of leather, and even makeup tips. There is also a nice balance of text to imagery as compared to the earlier chapters where you may be doing some guesswork to spot the the difference between two styles. The textile section specifically has images to illustrate the different types or fabric and patterns paired with text descriptions to detail its attributes.
My favourite section is the flowchart for choosing fabric for your project and getting a suitable lining and interfacing to match. Another standout was the section on the many ways to finish seams. I never knew there were so many possibilities and I can't wait to try some out. What was notable was that I learned quite a few new things that I will apply to future work and I that I will continue to reference the book especially if I am using new techniques or fabric.
I would recommend the Fashionpedia for cosplayers and costumers that are invested in the construction aspect of costumes and the craft of garment-making as a whole. It is very handy for getting the right terminology when searching for materials or patterns. Knowing the right terms can save a lot of time and effort when shopping in a store or online. However, if you are looking for a worldly encyclopedia this is not the book for you. I really hope they will release more editions to address the gaps in coverage for non-western countries in South America, Africa, & Asia. I would also be ecstatic to see more detailed breakdowns of historical garments, but that's just my costuming bias speaking. If they decide to take on these projects I will gladly back another Kickstarter since I'm very fond of my Fashionpedia.
The book cost about $50USD (I got my copy at a bulk discount of $40USD through Kickstarter) and can be ordered on the Fashionary website, however, they are currently on backorder.
Did you get a Fashionpedia and what do you think?
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