We try to keep our cosplay coverage as global as possible here on Kotaku, but there’s always room for surprises, stories from communities of fans we’ve never encountered before. Like some tailors from Nepal, who work full-time creating replicas of their favourite movie costumes.
Baron Boutique is a company based in Kathmandu that was founded in 2000 by a pair of high school friends, Pricha Bali and Raj Bista. While opening as a traditional tailor, crafting personalised suits and dresses, it wasn’t long before the company’s output began to shift a little.
In 2003, after the release of Matrix Reloaded, Bista—originally trained in civil engieering—had the idea of using the company’s resources to replicate some of the iconic jackets and coats from the series. Partly for business reasons, but also because, as he admits, “I have always been a huge fan of action Hollywood movies and always wanted to dress-up like an actor.” The results were impressive, so Baron decided to put the business to work to try selling them to fans as well.
It was a good idea: they sold well thanks to the reach of the internet (which didn’t care how relatively remote their location was), so much so that Baron not only came up with other Matrix jackets, but expanded into other series as well, mostly those which were a good fit for their skills building suits from scratch. James Bond was an obvious early choice, but they also created replica suits based on Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who as well.
Most of that business is of course online—especially since Baron’s old physical retail presence was forced to close following Nepal’s devastating earthquake in 2015—but that’s not to say that cosplay doesn’t exist in the country.
Nepal’s cosplay scene, consisting of everyone from from long-standing fans of 90s anime through to those who have gotten more exposure to shows, games and cons via the internet, is growing. In 2014 Kathmandu it got its first store dedicated to cosplay gear and anime merchandise, opened by a local who had grown up in Japan.
The formation of clubs and small shows soon followed, to the point where there’s now the Comic & Cosplay Convention Nepal, which as you can see in this video taken at last year’s event shows, looks pretty cool!
Baron now employs 31 people full-time, and while they are still very much in the traditional tailoring game, Bista estimates that the growth of cosplay sales has been so strong that it now accounts for 40% of their total business.
And that business is hard work. As professional tailors with a full workshop, I thought it was fascinating how they were able to leverage their original mission statement into something that makes cosplay coats and costumes that didn’t just look the part, but were fully and properly made as well.
Finishing a costume or suit to that kind of standard takes time; Bista tells me that between designing the outfit and cuts, getting the right fabric, developing a prototype then fully-tailoring a costume can take “at least a month”. Which goes some way to explaining why Baron’s cosplay outfits can cost anywhere from USD$200-800.
While Bista’s favourite item remains one of the original Matrix coats—it “flows like a dream”, he says—his ultimate project is actually on a smaller scale: he’d love to make a Wonder Woman costume, mostly because his nine year-old daughter is “crazy about her”.