This isn’t actually sales pitch for commissioning a wig from us, though the title may sound like it. This is a breakdown of how and when having a wig built is worth the cost. Candidly, not everything needs to be a custom built piece. But in some cases, a custom piece is going to make a huge difference in the final outcome
If you’re not sure exactly what makes a wig or piece of facial hair “custom”, that means we create the entire wig from scratch. Each piece is tailored to fit the client, and we put all of the hair in by hand, paying attention to the hair color, texture, growth direction density and style. The piece has a fine lace front that matches the client’s hairline and skin tone. The result is a well-fitting piece that looks ‘at home’ on the wearer, whether it’s a faithful replica of a character’s hair or an original design.
Wigs are very popular right now, for both mainstream and cosplay use- you can buy them all over the place, in local shops or on the internet. They come in a seemingly endless range of colors, styles and prices. You can even pick up machine made “lace front” wigs with decent hairlines at very reasonable prices, and most of those can be re-styled using heat tools. In short, it’s never been easier to find a decent wig ‘off the rack’. So why spend substantially more money and time having a wig made to order?
The short answer is, quality. The longer answer is that the cheaper and more accessible options might work perfectly well for many uses, but what about the other times? Let’s say you spent hours of your time sourcing the perfect fabric and materials, more hours painstakingly sewing your garment, and a whole other bunch of hours tracking down the accessories and props and designing your makeup. If you’ve put that much time, energy, love and, yes, money, into creating the very best costume, it’s worth considering having the wig or facial hair made to go with it.
Why, though? What does spending $1200-$2000 on a single wig get you?
The right color, texture, density and length. That’s specially important if you are working on a character whose hair isn’t readily available as a mass produced product. If you’re cosplaying Danaerys Targaryen, you can probably find a pretty good mass produced wig that will work for most of her hairstyles (though you may want to take a look at some of the other reasons to consider a custom wig). But what about your Gandalf cosplay? There aren’t too many decent quality long, gray wigs out there, and even fewer beards.
The right fit. Let’s say you manage to track down a wig in the right color and mostly the right style for your Jon Snow cosplay. The hairline is even decent. Many people might be able to use the wig as it is, which is great. But what if this wig doesn’t fit your head? Your put it on, and you pull and you tug, and it doesn’t cover your nape. Or your forehead. Or your ears. The wig that looks reasonably like Jon Snow on a mannequin head isn’t going to look like Jon Snow if half your hair is sticking out the back of it. Fitting issues get worse with updos and short, tapered hairstyles.
The right hairline. This tends to be the weakest link for most mass produced wigs. Is your character’s hairline visible at all? Then you need a wig with a lace front hairline. And that hairline needs to match up well enough with your own hairline to cover it completely. Ideally, it will also match the hairline of the character you’re portraying because that’s an important element of creating a likeness. The lace also needs to match your skin tone and fit the shape of your forehead and face.
The right style. You’re going to need to either buy a wig that looks exactly like the hairstyle you’re going for, or you’re going to have to try and re-style it to do what you need. If you’re cosplaying Cersei Lannister, plenty of her hairstyles can be recreated with a long blonde wig without the need for much styling. But if you need some King’s Landing formal hair, you’ll need to do some styling. If you’re comfortable with hair and wig styling, then you’ll probably do great with a purchased piece. If styling isn’t in your wheelhouse, then it might be good to job that out.
The right hair. If realism and screen accuracy are important to you, or you want to use your wig for a long time, or if your wig needs to be easily styled and restyled, it’s important to make sure your wig is created from the best hair for the job. That means carefully chosen, good looking, realistic, durable hair, in the right colors and the appropriate texture.
It’s not just about using human hair, either. Choosing the right hair can also mean using a quality synthetic fiber because it more accurately reflects the aesthetic qualities of the character, or because a wig can be created successfully from a good synthetic hair at a lower price point. Whenever possible, we try to present as many options for fiber quality and price as we can, so that our clients can pick the best option for their needs and their budget. Some projects work well with both human or synthetic hairs, and some don’t. Having knowledgeable artisans to cover the pros and cons of different hair fibers ensures you get the best possible result, and allows you to make an informed decision.
So how do you decide if it’s worth it?
In general, if you’re doing a project and you can tick off two or more of the above points, then you might want to consider a custom wig. If you’re just doing the project casually, or for a single event, then it might not make sense to have a piece made. But if you plan to wear your Gandalf for the next decade, you’ll probably be happier in long run if you get your pieces made to order.
Ok, but $1300 is still a LOT of money to spend on one wig.
It is. There’s no denying that is a serious chunk of change for most people. A lot of our clients didn’t even know having a wig made to order was an option before they came to us. So being given a quote for $1200-1800 was a shock because they had no context for it.
If you decide it’s worth the investment, then we can help you set up a payment plan so you can have the wig you want on terms that make sense for you. Our advice is to do some research, talk to us about your project, and plan your wig commission well in advance when possible. Yes, it might mean you have to postpone a project or use a temporary piece, but you’ll find it’s worth the wait.
Looking for more? Our Cosplay FAQ has lots of great information on our wigs and the creation process and you can join our mailing list to stay up to date!