(This is part 2 of a 5 part series originally published on Artists Beware)
A fursuit is a large animal costume that can partially or wholly cover the body. However, the head piece (mask) completely covers the face.
Vision is limited – you will only be able to see directly in front of you in most cases.
Ventilation is not great – you will be hot and sweating within seconds of putting most fursuit pieces on.
They can be incredibly claustrophobic, and many heads do not allow room for glasses.
Fursuits should be avoided if you are prone to overheating or you have issues with any of the above listed problems.
Fursuits are expensive.
Generally, good quality fursuits starts around 800 USD. The really great fursuits that win costume competitions and have viral photos passed around the internet usually start at $3000 but can commonly go above $5000. You can use FursuitReview’s price sorting options to get a feel for what you can expect in the price range you are willing to pay. However, many reviews are old, and the maker has likely raised their prices since it was posted (so take note of the “Year Made” and “Review Date” listed in the reviews).
Additionally, the most well-known and expensive makers tend to not have many (if any) reviews submitted. Many owners of these “luxury” fursuits feel the reputation of the maker speaks for itself and there is no need to submit a review. (Of course, FursuitReview would eagerly accept reviews for these makers! If you own one, please submit a review.)
Fursuits involve a large time investment from you.
If you buy a pre-made, you can have your fursuit in less than three months. Otherwise, you need to contact a maker directly for your fursuit project, and it is common to wait a year or more (waiting in the queue + actual time to complete your project) to get a fullsuit.
This is assuming you actually get a spot to begin with- many makers only accept commissions a few times a year, and those slots are limited. A substantial amount of time can be spent simply waiting for the maker you want to open commissions, and then hoping you are selected. Makers rarely work on a “first come, first served” basis.
You must be eighteen (18) or older.
Many fursuits are one-of-a-kind and made to your size. Generally, your measurements will change as you grow, until you are about 18 years old. There is no sense in buying such an expensive item that likely won’t fit in a year or two. The vast majority of makers will not allow minors (people under 18) to commission them due to this and legalities involving contracts with minors.
There is little resale value for used fursuits.
If you have a fursuit and decide to sell it later, you will not get anywhere near what you paid in the vast majority of cases. This is true even if you didn’t actually use the fursuit. Once it has left the maker, most people do not want to buy it and/or are unwilling to pay what it is worth.
While it is possible to get what you paid for it, it is very, very difficult and time-consuming. As an example, it took Jy (the owner of FursuitReview and the author of this guide) an entire year to sell a barely used fursuit head from Mordrude’s Monsters (now known as Kitsune Illusions) for $500. Other fursuit heads and partials bought for $800 were sold at $300 and below. Re-selling fursuits is generally difficult and depressing.
Often, if you see a story of someone selling their fursuit at or above its original cost, it is because the owner of that fursuit is extremely popular and/or they are offering more than just the fursuit (e.g. selling the character and including lots of character art).
Buying a custom fursuit carries a substantial risk.
While it is sad, it must be noted that most fursuit makers are simply people doing this as a hobby. Finding a maker that is actually registered as a business is rare (and those that are have higher prices to reflect this status).
Because most makers are hobbyists, there is an unfortunately high risk that your project won’t be completed in time, won’t be completed to your satisfaction, or simply won’t be finished at all. The stories of makers who ran with the money are sadly too common, as are the stories of people who had to wait over two years, or received their fursuit in unwearable condition.
Fursuit makers often live and die by their reputation alone, and this is partly why several “big name” makers have been recommended over and over again, but even these makers can still fail to deliver. People who are victims of these makers are often too afraid to come forward due to the backlash. FursuitReview submitters have requested their reviews be removed due to the maker abusing them in private over the posting more than once.
FursuitReview tries to persuade everyone to keep their reviews up so the community can be aware, but the possibility of a negative review backfiring is there, and it causes many people to fear coming forward with their bad experience. This makes finding negative information incredibly difficult, thus decreasing your defense against the possibility of a maker taking advantage of you.
Because FursuitReview does not allow reviews for fursuits that were never received, you should always check a maker on Artists Beware as well before committing yourself to buying from them. But be aware that abusive makers can often change their names and start a “new” business. FursuitReview and Artists Beware try to stay on top of this, but it is not fail-proof.
Proper maintenance can be time-consuming, sometimes difficult, and expensive.
Despite how much you pay for a fursuit, mishaps do occur and it is beneficial to learn proper sewing technique. Otherwise, you will have to rely on makers to fix your fursuit. Shipping back and forth can be costly, assuming the maker also doesn’t charge you for their time. There is also the additional time commitment as you wait for the repairs to be completed and the item(s) to be sent back.
This is not to mention proper storage and washing of a fursuit – washing in particular, even if some parts can be put in a machine – can be a multi-day exercise. Many people buy additional products to help keep their fursuits clean – expenses that pile on over time.
Of course, there are plenty of trustworthy makers out there, too! Buying a fursuit is not all doom and gloom, but it’s important that you protect yourself and be warned of the risk before you start.
As a final note:
Fursuits are NOT required to be a part of the furry fandom!
Fursuits are the most visible part of the furry community, but they are not mandatory to participate. It is easy to become pressured into feeling like you have to have a fursuit to have fun at cons or to be yourself. This is not the case. Do not buy a fursuit out of peer pressure or fear of missing out!