So I spent a good portion of today, and a good portion of my credit card limit, on the Etsy website.
My friend Alison used it quite a bit when it came to her wedding last year and has since become obsessed with felt hair pins and buttons! I decided today that it was time to broaden my horizons of costumes and was looking for inspiration from other places rather than my usual dance costume websites.
I like to do costumes a lot differently than most other studios, and I spend a lot of time making sure it's exaclty what I was thinking of for each dance. I know in the US that dance costume catalogues are a huge industry, and most studios order from them. Here in Canada we are starting to have more options in terms of catalogues when it comes to competitive routines, but to be honest, I don't like most of them. (That's not an invitation for more people to send me their catalogues, because believe me I get them all already!)
I don't like the limited selection and quality that most of the catalogues offer, and that does come from personal experience. I have a local Company who only caters Recital costumes to studios and it works out great for me. They are close by and really good about changing sizes if needed, and offer good quality at a price point I think it fair.
For my competitive costumes I tend to go any route that I need to, in order to find the costume I invisioned for that piece. If you're trying to be unique with a competitive routine, I don't know if a catalogue costume if really going to offer you what you're looking for to compliment your work. My studio has become a lot more contemporary over the years, and thus our costumes have become a lot less fussy, and more simple and wearable after.
Lulu Lemon offers great dance quality products, like their black booty shorts that all my Intermediate/Senior Company students have for many of their groups. We buy different tops for lyrical/contemporary numbers to go with them and it looks simple but really fantastic on stage. I have lately become obsessed with hair pieces that spice up the costume a bit more, but even sometimes I just like plain black on stage. Recently I have also started using American Apparel for a lot of basic items that I am looking for if it fits what I need.
These companies don't always offer me the inspiration I am looking for when finishing a routine off with that phenomenal costume, but that's where you have to get creative. Enter Etsy.com into my life! A website of all custom clothes makers who are willing to work with you on any type of order. I emailed a bunch of sellers today whose designs interested me and we came up with colors/styles that I was looking for to suit each dancer. I emailed them back with the kids sizes and now within a few weeks I will have everything delivered to my house.
I know it seems like a lot of work when you could just pick an already done costume out of a catalogue, but there's a big difference to me between really making the effort to get that special costume for those routines you've put so much effort into. Can't you just imagine one of your students on stage in this gorgeous tutu!
This website has so many great designs that I never would have been able to think of on my own and now I can utilize the talents of other people that I don't even know.
I don't think I recommend this custom ordering business for every body for every dance, as I can see becoming overwhelmed in keeping everything organized if you're not used to doing it this way. I personally like to have my hands on every costume coming out of my studio, and thus get enjoyment out of shopping for things... and who doesn't like shopping for spectacular things!
Make an effort this year to maybe even chose one routine who needs that custom costume and get really creative with where you get it from. On a price point level, I can find anything that is of equal and generally better quality and just what I need for the same price as I can buy it in bulk out of a catalogue. You charge your parents for your time and travel to get these costumes and in return they'll get something unique and fabulous. Parents at my studio especially like the Lulu Lemon clothes I get my students as they can wear them the year after for their classes.
And then when you're out shopping or browsing on Etsy for that perfect costume piece you can always pick yourself up something nice... hence why I now own this fabulous dress! Because of course I have to make sure I'm always looking great as well!