The Cost of a Full-Body Fursuit

If you’ve been to geek conventions in the past few years, you’ve probably seen more and more attendees wearing full-body fursuits. How much do these fursuits cost, and how much customization goes into each individual character? As Atlas Obscura reports: a lot, and a lot.

For the professionals, creating a fursuit can take anywhere from one to six weeks, costing the buyer upwards of $3,000 depending on the features and custom requests.

Atlas Obscura profiles two of these small, independent fursuit shops: Fursuiting.com and Mischief Makers. Both are husband-and-wife teams who built their talent for fursuiting into sustainable careers. (How sustainable? Atlas Obscura notes that “ both Mischief Makers and Fursuiting have had to temporarily close their submissions due to demand.”)

What goes into a custom-made fursuit? It often starts with a discussion of design:

The options range from broad customization like colorization, how muscly the body will be, and what type of tail should be added, to more esoteric details like whether or not you would like digitigrade-style legs — found in animals who walk on their toes — and whether you want the suit to have hard soles or soft paw pads. You can even send in an illustrated design to bring the specifics of the character to life.

The person purchasing the fursuit is sometimes asked to make a duct-tape dummy of their body, so the fursuit can be perfectly customized to fit. This involves wrapping the entire (clothed) body in duct tape and then carefully cutting the subject out of the duct-tape so that it retains its shape as a human-sized dummy. Mischief Makers offers a visual tutorial:

The most challenging aspect of the fursuit? The head:

Each fursuit maker’s process is a little different, but the Mischief Makers start by building onto a hood. “Our heads start with a spandex balaclava, foam that’s more commonly used for upholstery, and hot glue.” said Sadie, “That is the start for many other makers, though there are some who work with casting resin, expanding foam, mesh, helmets, ball caps, spray adhesives, all sorts of things can be used to start off.” The head is sculpted out of soft foam to the fur fan’s specifications.
The fursuit head can also be outfitted with other key features like different eyes or teeth, but as in any community, the trends come and go. “Following eyes are the big deal right now,” Sadie says. “For a while everyone really wanted moveable jaws, so the character can move its mouth like it’s talking, until most people noticed that also means whenever you want to breathe, you have to open your mouth.”

The whole Atlas Obscura piece is fascinating. I had no idea how people got their fursuits (I think I just assumed “internet”) and I didn’t realize the amount of customization involved in each piece. I also never dreamed they cost thousands of dollars, but it makes sense; these are hand-crafted, tailored suits made by professionals, and they deserve to earn a living from their work.

Also: if you’re curious about the cost of other types of convention cosplay, we profiled cosplayer Torrey Stenmark last year. (The answer is still “a lot of money.”)

Photo credit: Techwolf Lupindo