It’s Autumn and yesterday we had the Japanese Society-East Asian Society annual Halloween party. I opted for a last-minute Battle Royale tribute since I already own a Gakuran! Here’s how I made the collar.
I had been thinking of dressing up as Jack Skellington, but the price of pin-stripe suits and copious amounts of white make-up required for a full-body purge put me off. But with the Gakuran (the special black jacket school boys wear in Japan) it was a just a simple matter of wearing the jacket. I only had to make the collar worn in the film to complete the costume! I’m pleased to say that most of the Japanese students and my classmates recognised the tribute. See below for instructions on how I made the collar.
Although the students in the film wear an unusual beige-coloured uniform with ties, in the manga they wear proper black gakuran, so I mimicked that image. Out and about shopping around Leeds, I picked up a couple of things ready to make my Battle Royale collar. It’s pretty crude, but in a club with low lights and alcohol-intoxicated people, nobody notices the rough edges! The red LED was a great touch, so if you are making the collar, try not to skimp on it! Any cheap Halloween toy or something with have them. Just try to get the battery-less type. They won’t last long, but it’ll save a lot of weight. That is, unless you can find one with a small replaceable battery! I didn’t have the time to search.
Above: Shogo Kawada from Battle Royale 1
A wide, black belt (mine was over 5cm wide)
A red LED (taken from a really cheap Halloween toy)
Small piece of black fabric
Dirt (yes, the garden variety)
1) I first measured and marked the outline of the collar onto the back of the belt ready to be cut out. It’s important to use a wide belt, as you’ll be needing around 5cm width at the highest point. I made the main strap 3cm wide and the bulging part in the centre about 5cm. Make sure to determine the length of belt you need to fit around your neck. Cut longer than this length to allow room for mistakes (you can always trim it later). Below is the profile of the collar. Obviously, at this point the foil or loops would not be attached.
2) After I was happy with the shape, I cut carefully around it with scissors. Take care on this part, as leather does not cut well with scissors and you’ll easily stray off the lines you marked. If you have access to a small cutting machine or even a good Stanley knife, use that instead.
3) With the shape cut out, I tried it for size again and marked roughly where it fit snugly around my neck. Next, I took the two loops that come with the belt, cut them off and trimmed them so that I could attach them back to my newly cut collar. (The loops will be longer than you need because you will have probably bought a belt wider than the width of your collar).
4) I pushed a pin through each end of the strips I cut off and through the belt where I needed to attach them to. Once I had opened the holes, I pushed a straightened-out paper clip through the holes and used pliers to bend it round, securing it to the collar. Once I’d done all 4 of these (to form 2 loops), the basic fastening mechanism was finished.
5) Now to create the silver part. I made the entire collar in the afternoon before the party with no prior planning, so there are probably much better materials to use to give a better finish, but I used standard kitchen foil. I traced around the collar onto the foil and cut it out carefully with scissors. The foil needs to be smaller than the collar, so measure a border of about 0.5cm-1cm in from the edge and trim the foil down.
6) Use Pritt-stick (or any normal glue for paper), spread it onto the collar and stick the foil down carefully to avoid tearing it. Even if you make a mess, this type of glue washes off leather quite easily with a bit of water, so you can clean up the edges afterwards. Cut a rectangle into the middle of the centre area using a knife (don’t press too hard) and take the foil out.
7) Test the collar by putting it on. You may notice that the foil splits in places, so fill in those gaps with some more strips of foil until the foil flexes with the collar.
8) Use a screwdriver to bore a hole in the centre of the rectangle (this is where we will put the LED). Once done, put the LED through the hole so that it just juts out and secure the wires and the switch to the back of the collar. I used superglue for this, but some good tape that sticks to leather will work too. Make sure the switch is accessible from the top or bottom of the collar so you can turn the LED off or on. Use a small piece of fabric (or plenty of tape) to cover up all the wires and to make sure there are no sharp bits sticking out that may make it uncomfortable to wear.
9) Test the collar again! It should fit snugly and not be uncomfortable and you should be able to turn the LED on easily by pressing the switch just behind the collar.
10) To complete the image, smear your face and chest with dirt. Add some cuts with the fake blood where you like. Wear a white shirt, black trousers and shoes, don your gakuran and take a pot lid or something with you. If you don’t have a real gakuran, you could perhaps make one by using a suit jacket with the collar up and sewing some big, brass buttons onto it.
Good luck and Happy Halloween!