SURREY â€” AniRevo, ComicCon, VCon â€” these are all events at which cosplayers can get decked out in costumes, wigs and outlandish attire, and become their favourite pop-culture characters for a day.
Thatâ€™s right, Superman outfits and face paint arenâ€™t reserved just for Halloween anymore.
And no one in Surrey knows that better than Rene Schindel.
â€œThey call them the â€˜Cons,â€™â€ said Schindel, who owns and operates North Surreyâ€™s The Costume Bank, a business that rents, sells and custom creates costumes for everything from steampunk conventions to outfitting theatre productions.
The retired high school sewing teacher opened up her shop in 2008 when she realized sheâ€™d amassed enough of her daughterâ€™s dance costumes to clothe a small village of Halloween enthusiasts.
The shop-owner and custom costumer saw the niche opportunity to keep many of her costumes and stay working while she was at it. One of her many claims to fame is designing costumes for Monty Pythonâ€™s Spamalot.
â€œThis is my â€˜donâ€™t stay at home and rotâ€™ (business),â€ she said earnestly. â€œI donâ€™t do it for the money, I live on my pension.â€
Now Schindel rents and sells costumes out of her North Surrey shop, often dressing people year round for theme parties, events, plays and more. Sheâ€™s created everything from 300-pound Vikings to anime Lolitas to the entire line-up of â€™70s rock band KISS.
â€œI go from cavemen to 1920s flappers,â€ she said. Recent trends include a Great Gatsby themed wedding, in which the store-owner and seamstress is suiting up the parents of the bride.
â€œI sell some things and I custom make some things. I will do alterations. I just did an alteration for Donatello,â€ she said of the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fame. Schindel also regularly does costumes for those into manga and anime.
â€œIâ€™ve done Tuxedo Mask. I do him often because he lives here,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m in the process of getting a Lolita finished so she can wear it on Saturday or Sunday.â€
Teens who are involved in the Surrey Librariesâ€™ anime club may be apt to drop by Shindelâ€™s shop before the libraryâ€™s second annual cosplay picnic happening on Thursday, Aug. 28.
The eventâ€™s coodinator, Ellen Wu, kicked off the first Teen Cosplay Picnic last year at Holland Park as a summer wrap-up party for the anime club, which has been meeting and operating out of the library since the fall of 2011.
People aged 13 to 18 who arenâ€™t currently part of the anime club are also welcome to join, however.
â€œI think itâ€™s a fun way for teens who are already in anime club to express their creativity,â€ Wu said. â€œI donâ€™t know if thereâ€™s a need for cosplay, but we thought it would be a really great way to allow those teens in anime club to celebrate over the summer as well as bring in teens who might be into cosplay but havenâ€™t heard of anime club.â€
Among free food and fun games, Wu said what sheâ€™s most looking forward to is the creativity of the teens who come to the picnic.
â€œIâ€™m always going to be surprised by the teens and what they come up with,â€ Wu admitted. â€œI know that superheroes are very popular. A new version of Sailor Moon has come out in manga and animeâ€¦. Those are kind of perennial favourites.â€
The teen cosplay picnic is set to accommodate 40 to 60 teens when it they show up on Thursday (Aug. 28) to the new City Hall Plaza at 2 p.m.
Wu said there will be snacks such as onigiri (Japanese rice balls), games such as suikawari â€” a Japanese traditional game where people split a watermelon open with a stick, blindfolded â€” and anime pictionary.
â€œWe’ll be handing out prizes for the best costumes, too,â€ she said.
Those who want to attend but didnâ€™t have the time to sew their own costume might want to stop by The Costume Bank for a quick round of dress-up with Schindel, as well.
The event is free, and teens between the ages of 13 and 18 can register for this program at 604-598-7426.