At NYCC, Yaya Han chatted briefly on her collection and what she hopes the line accomplishes.
Yaya Han In thinking back to the first cosplay she had ever done, Yaya Han recalled her days as a teenager where the idea of cosplaying the way she can today was never even imagined. She just loved Kurama from Yu-Yu Hakusho, and had to try and crossplay him. Well, “Crossplay” at least. ” I dressed up as a guy but did not make myself look like a guy,” she said as we chatted under the backdrop of the crowds and loud speakers of this year’s New York Comic Con. Now she’s at the point where she’s started her own line, and after feedback from the first one, worked on an extension that she showcased at the convention. We talked about the Yaya Han Collection and what she’s learned from starting it.

TheOASG: So another year, another NYCC! How’s it been for you this year?

Yaya Han: Oh my gosh, this one has been crazy! I’m glad I made it to New York. I’ve been traveling a lot and working on a lot of projects such as the cosplay fabrics, so hey I made it, I’m thrilled.

You started the Yaya Han collection in March. How has it been received so far?

We’ve worked on it for about a year before it actually came out in the Spring. Since then the cosplay fabrics I think have been received extremely well. I’m actually bowled over by how many people have used the fabrics and come by and shown me their costumes and how proud they are. They tell me their individual stories of them wanting to find a fabric that would be perfect for their outfit, and they were able to find one within my collection. That is really heartwarming and exactly what I was hoping for.

And now you’re adding an extension to the line.

It’s honestly all the fabrics we could not cram into the first collection. Like I have so many ideas that we could not physically make all these fabrics, so it made sense to split them off and have the first collection come out with the things that I thought were most difficult to find amongst cosplayers. Now we’re really rounding it out with some really cool, exciting fabrics like our Desert collection, the Super Hex, very good for Destiny, Mass Effect, Halo costumes. So we’re able to sorta spread our wings a little more creatively with the second edition.

Yaya HanWhat turned out to be the biggest reason you started this line?

Well I’m a fabric nerd, I’ve always collected fabrics and saved all my scraps after each costume — I would spend more money at a fabric store than a clothing store any day! So I think over the years, just being a lover of fabrics has sort of inadvertently trained me for this very daunting, very big project. So when Cosplay Fabrics approached me 2 years ago, just the opportunity was beyond anything I could dream of. And then when I was told Jo-Ann’s was interested in distributing the fabrics, I thought, “That can’t be.” It was very surreal, I actually did not believe that would happen until I saw it in the store.

So really, my reason for doing this is that I, as a cosplayer, have always had issues finding fabrics. I had to really travel far to source them or order them online. There were just a lot of hassles, stress, and extra effort involved, so I’ve always wanted my local store to carry some of these unique fabrics, and this was my chance to make that dream happen. So not only is it beneficial for me because I get to use cool fabrics now, but it makes the average cosplayer’s life a lot easier when they can go into Jo-Ann’s, they can buy their patterns, notions, thread, and the fabrics all in the same shop. And they don’t have to worry about it, just go home and make their costumes. That is challenging enough! Their focus should be about making the costume, not about sourcing.

What were some of the challenges of creating this collection, from working with Cosplay Fabrics to what could potentially be used?

It was certainly narrowing down the options, and to also create a cohesive collection. I didn’t want to just pull fabrics that I thought would be the most needed, but they kind of span different types and genres. So they all had to be cohesive, but still very useful and in demand. Also there was the issue of working with a company that’s not local to my city. So we had a lot of daily emails, weekly Skype meetings that last maybe 3 hours or longer, and we also have in-person meetings. I’ll either come to New York or we’ll meet at an event, and we’ll have very long brainstorming sessions or sample grading sessions. Like I’ll just manhandle the samples and–

“Manhandle?”

*(laughs)* Manhandle them! Really destroy them if I can! But hopefully the whole goal is to see the durability of the fabrics, and see how they react under different circumstances. It’s…it’s been a huge learning experience for me. And definitely one misconception I want to clear up to customers of fabrics is that I don’t make the pricing. I have no control over the pricing, that is on the corporate level, and I’m hoping that people will take advantage of the coupons available at Jo-Ann’s to really get their hands on these fabrics.

You get asked that often?

I do actually! Pricing for fabrics is something that even I have struggled with in general. I used to be broke as hell! I was a student with no money so I needed to get the cheapest fabrics possible. But nowadays quality is so important in a fabric to make sure your costume is durable and lasts so you don’t spend all this money and time making it just to have the fabric unravel and fall apart. So quality definitely is more costly, but still it’s not me who makes the pricing. I wish that I could offer everything for free if I could but that’s not how it works. So hopefully people will learn to budget. Like there’s a great lesson on budgeting, learning how to take advantage of sales and coupons, and plan out their costumes.

Since your first cosplay moment, what do you think has changed for you the most when it comes to working on cosplay?

I used to choose costumes based on my limited skill level *laughs* with every skill that I’ve learn, every new costume I’ve made, I’ve expanded that skill level in my pool of selections. So my main important aspect of choosing a costume is still feeling a connection to a character and having an interest in a character, but then really the secondary is always craftsmanship challenge, like what can I learn from this project, how can I hone my skills, how can I add to my skill level, because that’s the most fun. You don’t want to be stagnant or boring by making the same thing again and again. I want to keep learning and innovating.

What’s next for you down the road?

Well I’m traveling more until the end of the year, this continuous tour, but I definitely have more plans to work on not only costumes for myself but finding more ways to connect the community and share information.