Just spent an hour writing this as an email to one of our forum members, and thought perhaps it would be of use to the others who are new here. (Which, from the looks of the introductions forum, quite a bit of you are.)
------NEW CUSTOMERS' GUIDE TO COSTUME COMMISSIONING (FROM EC)
First step, of course, is to decide on the character/version of the character that you want to cosplay. It doesn't matter if the characters have different outfits. Or even different versions to the same outfits. Major characters often do anyway. What matters is that you decide on the version that you want to cosplay
Next, find as many reference pictures as you can of that outfit. At the minimal, we would need a front view and a back view. This applies to the hair and the shoes as well, if you want to find wigs and get the boots custom-made. Think of it this way: if you want a costume that replicates what you see on screen or in the manga as closely as possible, you would need to show us clear pictures of it so that we actually know what we are supposed
Post a thread up on the forum in the format stated, together with the reference pictures you have found. If you are afraid of spamming the entire thread with pictures, provide URLs. Both Ruka and I have a rather decent internet connection, and do not really mind clicking at links. (As long as it links straight to the pictures. We would not want to take 15 mins scrolling and exploring a page when I could reply to another 5 quotation requests in the same time.)
We would let you know what parts of the costume we can do, at what price, the estimated shipping cost and the materials that we will be using for the costume.
If you have decided to get it commissioned, decide on the batch you want to join. On average, we have a batch every month and costumes will be done and ready for collection in 3 - 5 weeks' time.
Fill in the order form (link can be found on the forum as well) and email it to us together with the reference pictures again.
We will email back to arrange for payment (either by bank transfer or by cash on meet-up). Once you've made payment, we would send your costume in with our next open batch. 3-5 weeks later, expect an SMS from us arranging for you to collect your costume!! (My favorite location for meet-up, just FYI, is at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, since I tend to hang out there quite often)
Get ready to cosplay and have fun at the next cosplay event!!
As you can see, in order for us to help you, we first need you to help yourself. As everything here is made to order, we NEED reference pictures. I usually wouldn't entertained any messages that just state the character name and series name unless I'm really bored/idle. For one, I may not know the series that you are talking about. For two, if you are the one cosplaying, put in some effort on your part too. Most people in the cosplay scene (and this is speaking from the position of someone who've been in the scene since it started in Singapore) have zero respect for anyone who expects to be spoon-fed, AKA "Oh, I want to cosplay so-and-so. I'll pay for it, so do everything for me and I'll just parade the outfit on the day of the event".
Finally, here's a disclaimer (and you will find that this applies to all commissioners all over the world) that most of my customers already realize: we are human, we are not perfect. Mistakes are expected and while we aim for a 100% accuracy when it comes to our costumes, most of the time you should realistically expect around 80% accuracy. We make the costumes according to the reference pictures that YOU gave us and the measurements that YOU gave us. Comments like "so will it look exactly the same?" is just idealistic and hardly appreciated. Anime and manga are two dimensional. Reality is often rather different. Your own signature doesn't look exactly the same each time you sign it, does it?
Of course, this is not saying we wouldn't try our best, and that's why I've a feedback forum set up here as well. We do appreciate constructive criticism because it helps us improve and serve you better. So long as we understand the limitations, I think we are quite good to go.
edited to add: Just one more thing (long-winded Tessie is long-winded, yes). I cannot stress enough the importance of communication. Keep yourself constantly updated on the status of the batches. If for any reason you will not be contactable via phone/email during the time when the order is being made etc, LET US KNOW. We WILL try our best to hunt you down for a week, after then another batch starts and we get busy all over again. Please do not come to us 2 months later, asking where's your costume/prop/wig/boots/pet dog, likelihood is that I've already ritual-sacrificed it to the god of high metabolism. On our part, we (at least, I do, since I'm an Internet addict and online almost 24/7) will try to reply to you within 72 hours. Please offer us at least the same courtesy.