Last updated: 3/3/13
I really think it's more fun to make your own. (Don't know how to sew? Well, neither did the rest of us when we started. For ideas on how to find/cobble together/modify costumes, and finding the supplies to do it , please visit the Q&A page.) But some people really don't want to, don't have time, or would rather hire someone more skilled, and I got tired of getting email from them asking for a list of costumers. So here it is; if that's how you feel, you can contact one of these people. I haven't had dealings with all of them myself, but I have met most of them and personally seen examples of their work.
What About Those Commercial Costumes?
Fox announced in 1998 that they would be producing commercial RHPS costumes; in 2001 they finally did. I wouldn't recommend any of them except maybe the Riff wig (hard to find commercially; requires some skill to make one), or the Frank wig (not bad for a wig in a bag--they got the shape right at least). If you want accuracy, or durability, look elsewhere.
WARNING: the photos on the packages are not the same as the actual costumes (they were probably of higher-quality prototypes).
If you want an approximate audience costume out of the bag, these may be just what you need. Just expect to do a lot of maintenance as they were made very much on the cheap. Buying these is a lot less fun than hitting the thrifts and demonstrates a lot less creativity.
If you do order a costume and there are details that matter to
you (number of pleats/eyelets; size of quilted spacesuit squares, etc.) please
discuss it with the costumer. (One of the advantages to making
your own is that you know exactly what you want without having to explain it.)
Also make sure the size information you send the costumer is as exact and complete as possible. Even if it is, you may have to make some final alterations once the costume arrives. On my most recent commission, I asked that the costumer send me a muslin mockup to try on and modify before they started the real thing. We'll see if that helps.
I DO NOT recommend buying a costume from someone if you need it by a specific date, particularly around Halloween, when most Rocky costumers are swamped. If you're on deadline, you are probably better off doing the costume yourself. Please remember that you are ordering a custom piece of clothing; some of the 1970s era fabrics are no longer made; and that most Rocky costumers are other fans doing this in their spare time.
A warning: if you live in a different country than the costumer, you may have to pay import duty on the costume, and shipping may be pricey!
Even if you aren't interested in buying anything, check out Mina's site; she posts reference photos and useful information on how to make costumes, too, as well as a growing collection of patterns. (Disclaimer: I contributed to the lightning bolt pattern; I haven't used any of her others, though the spouse made a nice pair of Rocky shorts from a pattern she provided.) Her work on the site won her a BOSS award.
Mina does good-looking costumes for reasonable prices, and when I needed something made, or someone asked for a recommendation, I usually sent them to her. She's one of the few costumers left from the late 90s; she has a good eye, does her research, and is open to discussion. After getting overextended in the early 2000s, she issued refunds; spent some time doing only cast referrals and repeat customers; then moved on to eBay, where she garnered a feedback rating of 100%. In addition to doing Rocky costumes, Mina also does historical costumes, mostly Victorian era.
Mina is a Columbia and cast costume mistress and an active member of the rhpscostumes group on LiveJournal. She writes: "Mostly, I prefer working on Columbia commissions, but I do a fair bit of Janet and Magenta....The stuff I have finished for immediate sale will also be posted on my site - especially in advance of con and Halloween." She uses an embroidery machine to make patches for Frank and Brad jackets; we got a Triumph tiger patch from her and it looks great. She also makes nice vinyl lab masks (original light pink no longer available; I suggest you ask her not to cut them too large) and lightning bolt pins made of foam-backed vinyl; they look good but over time they delaminate and start to curl. She's looking into fiberglass now; that may do the trick. I've done bulk orders of lab masks/bolt pins for myself and casts I'm in. Mina also made a rather nice maid's dress for me with proper pleats from a pattern I'd cut (redoing the sleeves, which I'd screwed up).
A word to the wise if you're purchasing lingerie on-line--shop around. You'll find that the majority of sites you visit are selling exactly the same thing from the distributor--after a while the photos will all look familiar. Prices vary wildly: why pay twice as much for the same thing?
On the bright side, sometimes you'll luck into something, and there are now several good FAQ's up on how to care for your wig (such as Alternative Look.co.uk's Wig FAQ at http://www.alternativelook.co.uk/wig-faq.html).
If you live in a big city, you probably can find pretty good wigs locally.
However, good Space Magenta wigs are a rarity. Outfitters will make
you a Bride wig in any color you want (send them a swatch or specify a standard
wig color--you can get these at a wig shop) with separate white hair wavy stripes.
Outfitters did my Space wig and I will be eternally grateful. I found out about Outfitters from the Swiss
cast's Magenta, who got hers there. Mine was about $120 more than 10 years ago (shipping is extra) and
was worth every cent.
A Space Magenta wig is differently shaped than a standard Bride (Magenta's hair is spherical; a true Bride wig is conical, like Nefertiti's crown): send them some
reference photos and tell them you want it less tall and more spherical. In the 10 years since I bought my first wig, they're started adding a "natural" hairline to their wigs. Tell them not to for your space wig. If at all possible, have the final styling done on you.
Properly cared for, these last. I had mine restyled more than ten years after the initial purchase; it was almost, but not quite, as expensive as buying a new one (it's a lot of work to get all that hairspray soaked out). Their stylists now are not quite as good as they were when I first wig, but they're still excellent. NOTE: if they tell you it will fit under an airplane seat in a wig box, they are lying. Mine fits only if I cradle it in a shopping bag. You can always wear it on the plane - I did.