Perhaps one of the most recognizable elements of the Furry Fandom is what could be called the Fandom’s take on cosplaying: Fursuits. I’m fairly certain that any person who’s either encountered furries offline or seen furries online has noticed these unique mascot costumes, and today we’re going to take a look at these spectacular costumes. So get ready for some extra fluffy action and, uh, I hope you brought a lint roller. You might need it.
Fursuits? What Are Those?
While I’m sure it’s pretty obvious what constitutes as a fursuit I still feel like I should clarify some of the more nuances aspects of them. Essentially, a fursuit is any kind of mascot costume that at the very least includes a tail, a head mask and hand paws. A good example of this could be my own fursuit, seen below.
It also should come as no surprise that furries have their own words for the different kinds of suits out there. The kind of suit Niko is usually are called a “Partial Suit”, though partials can include more than just what I have. I’ve seen partials that also include arms, feet paws, and even legs, or any combination of the above – so say just the feet paws, hand paws, tail, and head. Then we’ve got the full suit. Ahh, the full suit. As the name implies this is a full on complete suit of fur, covering the head, body, legs, arms, and hands and feet and of course a tail.
The neat thing about fursuits is like the fursona there really seems to be no limit to the imagination – well, the fursuit maker’s skill and the depth of the furry’s pocket do serve as limitations – but still, there’s plenty of nice things that furries do with their suits. Take for instance Cass’ full suit, with blue sparkly paw pads (though you can’t see them in this picture), a blue sparkling nose, and a sparkling tongue.
Some suiters also come up with some neat additions to their already-completed suits. Local fursuiter Motomo, a wolf-bat character, got some small wings that he’ll sometimes attach to his back and expands and retracts with the pull of a string.
As far as which suit to get, it really just depends. Yes there’s the issue of cost and care, but for some furs such as myself I elected to have a partial suit so I could wear different outfits for Niko that range from simple outfits like the one above to more revealing clothing such as fishnets coupled with shorts. Though, I have seen folks with a full suit that will also don a partial of their character at times. So, like most things furry, it’s on a scale, and it just varies from furry to furry.
Okay! Where Do I Get One?
Aside from making the suits from yourself – a very time consuming, intricate, and expensive craft – the only other option is to commission suits from the one of numerous fursuit makers. And yes, there’s quite a bit of fursuit studios/makers out there. In my own local Southern California scene there’s a few studios and makers, and some makers even exist outside of America. Yes, we seem to have infected the entire world with our furry nonsense.
Getting in contact with a maker is easy enough: simply track them down on one of their social media pages, and shoot them a message. Though most suit makers will usually have some kind of description up on their pages or bios so you know if they’re open for commissions or not. They’ll often also have their own price estimates up as well, but most will take estimates anyways.
For partial suits it’s simply a matter of supplying some kind of picture or detailed description of your character – with full suits it’s that and providing what’s known as a duct tape dummy to the suit maker, which is how they’ll be able to get a measurement on your exact body shape. Trust me, you don’t want your full suit being either too tight or too loose. As you can imagine, it takes quite a while for even partials to get made, as usually makers have a queue of other folks who have commissioned them. But man oh man once you get that fursuit in the mail…all kinds of magic can finally begin.
Suits can also be pretty expensive, with partials easily costing several hundreds of dollars, and full suits easily breaking a thousand. Fortunately, some suit makers have payment plans that allow you to pay off your suit little by little, though take caution as some include caveats such as not beginning work on the suit until it’s been paid off.
Okay, But Why Fursuit?
Because, it’s fun! No seriously – every time I put on Niko I usually have a blast, especially if there’s karaoke to be sung. As mentioned before I also view it as a form of cosplaying, and with a fursuit you can bring your furry alter ego into the real world in ways that drawings and stories just can’t do – especially if you get it down great. Some fur suiters, such as Telephone, seem almost expert-level with how they portray their character. Telephone’s a unique creature of her own design called a Dutch Angle Dragon. People usually fall in love with her cuteness overload.
Another neat aspect? Well sometimes it can help with folks who have anxiety, or are introverted about either being in public, or certain activates. I love singing, but I get nervous doing it in front of others – when I don Niko however, I don’t really mind it so much. I had initial stage fright but the idea of being a happy-go-lucky singing bunny kinda helped break the proverbial ice. And plenty of other furries have used their fursuits to help them overcome their own introversion, such as a good friend of mine who admitted that donning his fursuit and interacting with others really helped bring him out of his shell in a way that simply going to furry events out of suit wouldn’t be able to do.
What Else Do You Do With Fursuits?
Aside from the whole cosplaying aspect lots of things, actually. There’s a huge list of things that furries will do in suit – such as the ever popular fursuit karaoke that you can see at local furry events like Tail, or conventions such as Biggest Little Furcon. And fur suiters love to don their characters in any given local events, and occasionally they’ll go out on their own and do a lovely fur suit night on the town.
Conventions will also usually have a good host of fursuit activities to enjoy, such as the Fursuit Games that are various small little games and activities for fur suiters to enjoy. Some cons will also bring out the game show element with games such as “Fursuit Price Is Right”. Many also have the ever-popular Fursuit Dance Competition where fur suiters take to the stage and attempt to bust the best crowd pleasing moves. And of course there’s lots of charity events too, such as Califur’s Pet Auction where con attendees bid on fur suiters to spend time with and all proceeds going to different charities – this year’s charity was The Bat Sanctuary, which was fitting for Califur’s horror-themed con.
Some furries will also produce various kinds of content with their fursuits, and “Furry YouTubers” are not uncommon, such as Majira Strawberry who does various kinds of videos in his fursuit, and other YouTubers like Ace of Hearts Fox who do sketch style shows with other fursuit friends. Though he does step out of the suit for other kinds of videos such as Let’s Plays. Though yes, I have seen fur suiters do Let’s Plays. It’s…interesting.
So, that’s your primer into the wonderful world of fursuits! Hope you leave here a little more informed and perhaps even intrigued on one of the furry fandom’s more unique and noticeable elements. Have any other questions on the topic of furred fuzzy friends? Sound off in the comments below! Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you all next time!
Special thanks to the fursuiters that appeared in this article, and their fuirsuit builders for making the magic possible, in order of appearance:
Niko Linni, built by Heads & Tails Studios
Cass, built by Heads & Tails Studios
Gypsy Rayne & Whisky Foxtrot, both built by Whisky Foxtrot
Telephone, built by PhoenixWolf Fursuits
Gus Boarberry, built by More Fur Less
Morticus, Dr. Sput, and Audo Otter, built by Rad Pandas, Bad Doge Suits, and Heads & Tails Studios, respectively.
Klace Husky, built by Battitude Studios