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The term fursuit is believed to have been coined in 1993 by Robert King and is usually used to describe custom-made animal costumes owned and worn by cosplayers or members of the furry fandom, commonly known as "furries"; a furry who wears a fursuit is called a fursuiter.:13 Unlike mascot suits, which are usually affiliated with a team or organization, fursuits represent an original character created by their wearer, and are often better-fitting and more intricately crafted. Although those outside the fandom typically refer to them as costumes, many furries prefer to refer to them as fursuits due to them typically being a personal expression instead of a costume.
Although an early, genderbending fursuit appeared at the first ever furry convention in 1989, fursuits did not become widely known until the mid-1990s and the rise of the Internet. Most early fursuit making was done on a hobby basis using guides released by members of the community. However, by the mid-2000s, fursuits were in such high demand that fursuit making became a viable business. Including used suits, the industry now sells millions of dollars worth of suits each year, and organizations such as sports teams are increasingly commissioning fursuits as custom-made mascots.
Fursuits originated due to the dissatisfaction with the quality of mass-produced mascot costumes. Fursuit making is a growing industry, with new costume makers who handcraft custom suits entering the market every week. A few dozen of these makers are highly respected and command prices up to $4,500 or more for a full suit, while there are several hundred more who charge less, usually between $1,000 and $3,000. Some of these, however, are "fly-by-night" operations or make suits of sub-par quality, leading to the proliferation of fursuit review sites to weed them out. There is heavy turnover of these smaller makers, with only a third of them able to stay afloat, due to suit-making being labor-intensive, and requiring a unique style and a following.
People also sometimes make fursuits from scratch as a hobby without opening a business themselves.
In order to make them fit correctly, many fursuit makers utilize "duct tape dummies" that are made of the wearer's body. They are made with faux fur that is sometimes sourced from places like the Los Angeles Fashion District. A single suit can take more than 200 hours of work and sell for thousands of dollars.
Types of fursuits
Besides the typical full-body suit, other variations include the partial suit, which only has a mask, gloves, a tail, and possibly feet, with regular clothing covering the rest of the body. Three-quarter suits also include part of the body, like the torso or legs. This type of fursuit works well for characters who only wear a shirt without pants or just a pair of pants without a shirt[page needed] Quadsuits are one of the most challenging and expensive types of costumes to make, and involve the wearer walking on all fours with arm extensions to create a stronger illusion of being a real animal.
Fursuits can range from cartoon-styled to hyper-realistic. The most popular animals for fursuits to be based on are dogs and big cats. They may also be based on fictional animal hybrids. Some suits may include integrated technology, such as LED lights and programmed expressful eyes.
Fursuits are heavily associated with the furry fandom by the general public, despite the fact that only 15 percent of its members own a fursuit, mainly due to their cost being prohibitively high. They may also be seen as overtly sexualized due to negative coverage from shows like CSI, though this is typically not the case. Furries who own a fursuit often base them on a "fursona", an anthropomorphic character that represents themselves. However, dedicated fursuiters sometimes own as many as a dozen suits based on different characters.
They are usually worn to furry conventions such as Anthrocon. Some fursuits of existing characters are made for the purposes of cosplay and are worn to anime or gaming conventions. They are also worn in public, though this typically requires a spotter or handler to ensure the safety of the performer. A spotter basically ensures the safety of that performer; making sure they don't exhaust themselves, actually walk into things with the limited vision the suit offer and more.
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- "'It's Not a Fetish': An Interview with One of the World's Leading Furry Researchers". Vice. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
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- Parker, Sydney (2015-07-09). "The Fursuit of Happiness: High Fashion in Furry Fandom". Racked. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
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