Kenji Hall explores the carefully preserved world of yuru-kyara, the nonsports mascots of Japan, where every organization seems to employ a fuzzy, smiling goofball—a recent mascot event counted 1,699. The people involved in creating the mascots, making their suits, and occupying those suits are perhaps surprisingly guarded about the whole thing: “Diehard yuru-kyara fans will insist that there’s nobody inside the suit. It’s part of the culture.” OK.
Hall also visits the birthplace of many mascots:
The space resembles what you would imagine the workshop of a fashion brand to look like: sewing machines, cutting tables, rolls of cloth and pieces of spongy foam. Every part of every mascot is made by hand. Many of Kano’s staff trained in the fashion industry, which partly explains why the suits made here have beautifully finished seams and are snug enough to dance in. They are also less suffocating than you might think. The headpiece has a built-in fan for Japan’s steamy summers and suits range in weight from 3kg to 10kg – half what they once were – thanks to lighter, more breathable materials similar to sportswear.
Is that mascot suit bespoke or made-to-measure?