Institute of Para-Enactment Research
Softcore Historicism and Embodied Heritage



The term cosplay originates from a contraction of the words "costume" and "play" refering to the act of wearing a costume and taking on the role of a character from genre. Many cosplayers make part or all of their own costumes. Some compete in Masquerades (cosplay competitions), others enjoy taking pictures in Halls (cosplay convetions). As a fan practice, cosplay originated from the Japanese manga and anime scene, in which a fan tries to recreate a fictional character as faithfully as possible in appearance and habit. With the increasing international visibility of manga and anime since the 1990s, cosplay has gained a broad following among young fans outside of Japan and is expanding to the imitation of characters from literature, feature films, television series and computer games. Parallel to the representation of fantasy and anime characters, historical or historicised charactrs are very popular within the cosplay community and beyond. Overflowing cosplay and anime fairs, historical cosplay has become a trend in social media, as marked by an article og fashion magazine VOGUE USA refering to the popularity of hsitorical-costume instagram-influencers. For the Magazine "Some see the hundreds or thousands of hours of drafting and sewing historical garments as a way to promote slow fashion, create the clothes for themselves that their ancestors would have been excluded from, or explore history in an unexpected way". For Keysha Medrano, a Hobby historical Sewist, historical cosplay is a way to engage with other realities: “Collectively, it’s all about creative escapism”. In difference with historical reenactment, historical cosplay is interested only with the aesthetic dimension of historical reconsructions, which could include specific behaviours, gestures and poses, but it does not identify the reeenacter with the historical setting being reenacted. “Vintage style, not vintage values” has become a catchphrase in the community. “It’s the aesthetic, 100% the aesthetic,”

︎︎︎“Cosplay Glossary,” It Takes A Village To Cosplay, April 15, 2015, https://cosplayvillage.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/cosplay-glossary/.

︎︎︎Sarah Spellings, “Why Painstakingly Re-Create an 18th-Century Corset? Why Not?,” Vogue, November 22, 2021, https://www.vogue.com/article/historical-costuming.

︎︎︎ Berlin, 2022

Distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
(More information here)