I'd like to adress a growing trend in anime conventions that I wish would end. Increasingly, anime cons are not permitting 'professionals' to compete. This includes people who do commissions, or people who have jobs/degrees in fashion. Why not make a professional category? Sci-Fi conventions have them. Anyone who's been to a Sci-fi con or Costume Con know that many people who compete are professionals, and they have their own division. These are the costumes everyone goes to see, and it's sad to me to see it being limited in cosplay masquerades. By not letting professionals compete, it's cutting out a LARGE percentage of, uh, costumes actually worth seeing on stage. Not to say, of course, that there aren't awesome costumes in competitions already. But why supress the possibility of even more?
Cosplay has grown popular over the past 10 years. People have began to shape their careers around it; this subculture is maturing to the level of sci-fi cons, and I think it's extremely limiting for the 'big kids' to be left out of the masquerades because they're 'too good'. I think it's detrimental to cosplay as an artform to start limiting the quality at masquerades.