If you haven’t heard of the UConn Costume Club, it isn’t because they’ve been disguising themselves. The club has only about 20 members, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make great costumes, according to Costume Club President Jon Russo, a fifth-semester sustainable plant and soil systems and agriculture and natural resources double major.
“We’ve had a lot of fun stuff over the years,” Russo said of the costumes that have come out of the club.
The Costume Club originally branched off of the Anime Club about six years ago and called itself the Cosplay Club. Last year the club changed its name to the Costume Club because they had been shifting away from making solely cosplay costumes. Now, club members focus on making three main types of costumes: cosplay, theater and Halloween. The costumers meet on Saturday evenings to learn skills and to work on projects.
Russo noted the supportive environment that Costume Club provides for its members. More experienced costumers help newer members, and club leaders teach a lesson on a certain skill at the beginning of each meeting. Russo said that members will usually start with learning costume research and blueprinting, essential skills for any costumer.
“I like to kind of say that we’re a learning club, so we accept everybody from all skill levels, and we kind of build them up from there,” Russo said. “Even our most veteran members that have been in the industry for a while, they’re still learning new stuff, myself included, of course.”
Russo describes the club as “really just a fun place to come and learn,” though a few more experienced members of the club, like Russo himself, have been able to earn money through commissioned projects. The Costume Club president has funded his own costuming projects through commission work for three years now.
According to Russo, a full costume may take three to four months to complete, though Costume Club members will often work on smaller projects like a prop or a single part of their costume when things get busy during midterm season. Russo said he’s seen some elaborate costumes made in the club, including his own Fallout costume or the vice president’s Abyss Watcher costume from the video game Dark Souls.
Depending on how much of their projects club members complete, the club will sometimes go to Rhode Island Comic Con in the fall or the Anime Boston convention in the spring. Members go specifically for the costume contests, in which their costumes are judged on craftsmanship, appearance and originality.
Russo also discussed how the Costume Club plays a bigger role at the university beyond providing a space for costumers.
“We’re here really to partially help in facilitating the growth of the maker community on campus,” Russo said. “The maker movement has been a big part in what we do, so we’ve been working with other clubs on campus to kind of help in growing their communities as well, so that kind of collectively, we can continue to make cool stuff together.”
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.