“Please state the nature of the costume emergency.”
That’s the greeting you’ll get from Brooke Wilkins if you visit her at Garak’s Tailor Shop, where she and her team of volunteers repair costume problems both big and small for cosplayers at the Creation convention in Las Vegas. Services are provided completely free to guests.
“This is something that was sorely missing from conventions before,” Wilkins said. “Fans didn’t know how to fix their costumes – or have the resources to do it themselves.”
Wilkins is the costume rentals manager at Hale Center Theatre in nearby Utah. She heard through word of mouth a few years ago that Creation was looking for someone to run a tailor shop for fans at the convention, approached them, and got the job. Her first year was 2014.
The shop helps at least 50 people a day, Wilkins estimates, noting that sometimes they go through so many customers they can’t keep track of everyone. During the interview, she helps a couple visitors with minor stitching issues while repairing Neal Adams’ VISOR with silver gaffer’s tape so he can play Geordi the next day.
“She’s an expert in just about everything dealing with costumes in my belief. She really is a life-saver,” Adams said. “She hones in on a problem, creates a proof of concept in her mind, then hones in on it with full commitment. She would make a female MacGuyver when it comes to fixing things.”
The two have been friends for years. She demurs from his superlative praise with an “Oh goodness.”
Her advice to anyone cosplaying for the first time:
“If you’re building your own costume, make sure you get the right material. It doesn’t matter how much you cut and sew, it’s never going to be right if you have the wrong material. … There are some problems we can’t fix. Some zippers just have to be replaced.”
Today Wilkins is cosplaying as a “Starfleet Jedi” who also happens to carry a sonic screwdriver and The One Ring. Typically you’ll see her in a Bajoran security outfit dressed as Major Kira, her favorite Trek character who she – overwhelmingly – looks like. She looks so much like Nana Visitor, that some folks at cons even mistake her for the actress.
She initially rejected the similarity until her nephew saw an episode of DS9 and asked, “Is that you at a Comicon thing?”