Costrip: The Evolution of the Word

Costrip: The Evolution of the Word

Project Otaking has decried the existence of the great divide between “costrip” and “cosplay”; he insists, and rightly so, that cosplay is cosplay and that there is no need to make delineations.

However, I disagree with the assessment that the decision to separate competition cosplay from “costrip” was due to the interference of event organizers and cosplay organizations. To be fair to the individuals and groups running costrip registrations, they simply adopted the term “costrip” to differentiate themselves from the formal competition sign-ups.

These groups did not coin the term “costrip”, which if I recall correctly arose with the third generation of cosplayers, who had gotten into the hobby from 2006 onwards (the first generation would be the pre-convention era cosplayers, and the second would be the kids from the AE/C3/AXN/Animax days).

I believe the etymology of the word “costrip” has its roots in the more archaic and unwieldy term “hugot-closet cosplay”, meaning cosplay that involves recycling existing items in your wardrobe to approximate the look and feel of a particular character. This term was in turn coined to differentiate cosplayers who had their costumes tailored to order from those who — for lack of a better description, turned up in closet scraps.

The word then evolved — via collective knowledge, to “costrip”, which means “the act of dressing up in attire not normally worn”. This definition encompassed con attendees who showed up in punk, gothic lolita, and sweet lolita attire but did not sign up for the formal competitions, as competition rules at the time (about 2003 to 2006) did not make concessions for such costumes. Eventually — with the inclusion of Japanese street fashion into formal cosplay competition, the word took on yet another definition to mean “the act of showing up in complete, accurate costumes but choose not to register for formal competition”.

Now, to cosplay scenesters who have experienced cosplay outside of the Philippine setting, the above definition for “costrip” does not defy the conventional meaning of the word “cosplay”. However, to the ordinary Filipino cosplayer who is not attuned to the nuances of international or Japanese cosplay, and subscribes to the localized definition of the term, then that is “costrip”. Therefore, by pinning the coinage of the term “costrip” (and its implications) with event organizers — who are simply using recognizable terminology, we are basically blaming the gun and not the shooter.

To wind this thing down — yes, Otaking was right in challenging the existence of the dichotomy; however, I do think he missed the mark on who is to blame for the existence of the terminology. If anything, he should’ve called out the erstwhile costrippers with the hows and whys of the word’s etymology. How did they come up with the collective definition for costrip? Why did they need to come up with it? Is this a uniquely Filipino cosplay tradition stemming from the inherent desire to attach labels to everything? If this is true, then how to we go about abolishing it and redefining the concept of local cosplay?

Play nice in the comments section, kids.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. I stand corrected! 🙂 However, I still think the distinction is an artificial one that creates a stratification that is pretty unhealthy for the community. Then again, what else is new? The scene has always been all about ‘us versus them’.


  2. Yukeh says:

    I always thought that it was just cosplay + trip, meaning “trip ko lang mag costume, pero hindi ako sasali.”


  3. Sese says:

    Thanks for the history Ate, until you’ve said it I will never know where on heaven and hell the costrip came from.

    Anyway i still don’t get the idea of the term “registered costrippers” if someone could explain and expound the meaning behind it to me, I’m all ears.


  4. @Otaking: i do agree with you with the need to reform this asshattery; it’s simply a question of how we go about doing it.

    @Yukeh: it was, but like all things in the philippines the term has been politicized, even demonized. what else is new? :/

    @sese: i too facefaulted at the oxymoron that is “registered costrip”.


  5. @magnetic_rose: in that case, we should either redefine ‘costripping’ or stop using it all together if all it’s gonna do is divide the ‘real’ cosplayers from the mere ‘costrippers’.


  6. @Otaking: agreed, and if we must let’s just leave it at “registered cosplayer” for the competitors and “cosplayer” for the promenaders.


  7. Gab says:

    The problem with most local cosplayers is their constant need to separate themselves from everyone else. It’s not just between the registered cosplayers and the costrippers. You also have the cosplay-only-for-photoshoots crowd, with everyone claiming they’re not doing it for the attention. -___-


  8. In which case, I thank you effusively for clarifying the subject for everyone. 😀


  9. seedsop says:

    For someone who was not in the country around 2004-2006, this definitely fills in the gaps in my knowledge regarding the term. much thanks!

    What I see as a problem now is how “costrip” as a term is being defined. While I like the idea that we have a Filipino coined term only available here, its current definition has caused a dichotomy of sorts between the so-called cosplayers and the so-called costrippers.

    And like Sese, I have to really question the term “registered costrippers”? And the sad thing is, it’s not the first time this was proposed and perhaps not the last.


  10. sephiroth says:

    I just don’t understand on why and how this term came about and why the cosplayers need to separate themselves from the others?


  11. Clair says:

    Thanks for this blog entry that clarified the history of the word costrip. I personally think that there’s something weird with the term though. Because it does sound ‘off’ to me and I was surprised about the term.

    It bothers me that there’s a term “registered costripper” because that’s something that goes against what “costrippers” do.


  12. @sephiroth: because everyone has to be speshul liek a snoflake OMG >.>


  13. sephiroth says:

    @magnetic_rose: OH DEAR LORD! *facepalm*

    where did it go downhill? XDDD


  14. RiCah says:

    I prefer just labeling none cosplayers – those not wearing an accurate portrayal of any character – as con attendees, no matter how flashy their clothes are. Anyone who is wearing an accurate costume and is portraying a character’s personality is a cosplayer, regardless if he/she entered a contest.

    I believe they decided to label themselves as such so they can have an excuse for wearing something resembling a character’s persona without the pressure of being a cosplayer: No need to be accurate, don’t have to be in character.


  15. @Ricah: thanks for another perfectly legitimate definition of the term; the question remains, however — what are we going to do about the delineation between “cosplay” and “costrip”? :/


  16. mimie says:

    ooh, i thought costrip means those guys who nearly strip for the sake of cosplaying a “sexy” character! sarcasm


  17. eva_guy01 says:

    Lolz, you beat me to it. I was already 3/4th done with my blog regarding Costrip, and yes, its because I read Project Otaking’s blog. Although yours, i admit, is more complete in its history. Mine only described as a term used by a group to differentiate themselves from the “competing” cosplayers. I never thought it originated much further as to describe the “hugot closet” variety back in the days.

    But I agree to the the reason behind the labeling: some cosplayers have the need to be different, a normal reaction when cosplay became “common”. And like labels, when used profusely, become household names picked up and used by organizers.


  18. Sese says:

    I just linked this article in my blog Ate!


  19. lol @eva_guy01: we are too old for this shit XD

    and thanks for the vote of confidence, @sese!


  20. Naoko says:

    now i know why the start of this word “Costrip”

    I was wondering why it was call costrip ever since i step this island ^^

    neat article about this. ^o^


  21. Laurie says:

    Nice article. When I entered the community during 2007, the word wasn’t much of in use then. I think my first time to hear the word was late 2007 when I asked a guy in costume whom he was cosplaying, then he told me he was just a costripper. Then inside I said to myself what was that?

    I guess I call everyone who has put much effort in portraying their character as well as producing their costumes a cosplayer regardless whether they decide to join the contest or not.

    People who give it their utmost best in the costume and roleplay part deserves to be called a cosplayer.

    Though I do feel sad sometimes when somebody just takes it easy and calls himself a cosplayer.


  22. raie says:

    i first thought that when a person cosplays, he dresses up his fave character and enters a competition…

    I notice that cosplay winners are usually those that have overly elaborate costumes such as gundam, those that take months to prepare. It is less on the personification and resemblance of the person(as well how the costume fits him) to the character.

    so for me, costripping are for those people who cosplays but does not enter the competition because the costume is not winnable…such as school uniform. etc.


  23. Hiro says:

    came across this while searching about COSTRIP in an atttempt to define CASUAL COSPLAY (which seems to be synonymous, the former being a Filipino equivalent)…

    so… it does boil down on the ‘unnecessary distinction’
    in eva guy’s words – “some cosplayers have the need to be different”

    sheeshhh~ i myself was a bit affected by the ‘delineation’
    i had to press myself to go register and catwalk just to have a sort of baptism of fire and be a “cosplayer” and not a mere “costripper” (for not competing) and now i hear there are those who wanted to be different from the “already different” by labeling themselves “costrippers”??

    the Filipino cosplay community should not branch out when it’s supposed to be coalescing and promoting cosplay as an advocacy ~_~


  24. katZ says:

    This is a refreshing read. May i relink this? I think the noobs need to study more indeed~! *tsk*


    1. no worries — link away~ thanks!


  25. bluedrakon says:

    I first want to thank you for the post as it was extremely informative.

    I just heard this term while reading another site and wanted to find out more. Considering the term, I would of thought it had more to do with cosplayers stripping down than the way they use it.

    I feel that cosplay is still cosplay no matter what you term it. Just because you don’t dress to the 9’s for your character does not diminish the character at all. This is for you to be self expressive and enjoy the character.

    If you want to really think about it, there isn’t a day that goes by where we wouldn’t see someone costripping wearing stuff we would not where at all.


    1. RE: costrip — because of the unfortunate way the two words have combined to form an awkward portmanteau, people are more likely to associate it with “discarding your clothing” (co + strip) than “an intense but short-lived preoccupation” (cos + trip).

      also, the word was coined relying heavily on “filipino english” (in this case, “trip” is a word filipinos use to describe something inconsequential or trivial) — which is why to someone who speaks american, british, or singaporean english etc. would obviously come to a completely different conclusion.

      anyhoo — thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂


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