Diehard fans are dressing in clothes inspired by their favourite characters in a viral trend called DisneyBounding

Leslie Kay, founder of DisneyBound, as Alice in Wonderland/ Instagram

Diehard fans come in many forms. Some collect merchandise, others are the first in line at premier events to meet the characters, actors and actresses associated with their favourite brands.

But when it comes to Disney there is a new form of fan, and the trend has taken off in the last couple of years.

DisneyBounding is a new form of fandom, whereby people dress in clothes inspired by their favourite Disney character in everyday life.

While in Anaheim, California, for the D23 Expo — Disney’s version of Comic Con — Business Insider witnessed firsthand the incredibe lengths these fans go to to replicate Disney characters in everyday wear.

Leslie Kay as Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Note the detail of the fork which the character combs her hair with/ Instagram

To find out more about the trend, and understand it better, we spoke to DisneyBound founder Leslie Kay, who also recently announced that her other business Cakeworthy has partnered with Disney to make licensed DisneyBounding items and inspired street style clothing for other fans to buy.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

BUSINESS INSIDER: Would you say you started the trend of DisneyBounding? If yes, when and why?

LESLIE KAY: The idea of using clothes to build out looks based off your favorite character or celebrity or whatever it may be is not an original idea. The term “DisneyBounding” is based off my blog and the viral reach it obtained in the beginning which drove the existing concept into more of a community-based activity.

BI: For those who haven’t heard of DisneyBounding, how would you described it? And how does it differ to Cosplay?

LK: DisneyBounding is when you use clothes that you can find in your own closet or local mall to build out an outfit based off of your favorite Disney character—by colour blocking and accessories.

It differs from Cosplay or dressing up in costume because you aren’t trying to look exactly like your favorite character. You don’t need wigs or props or accurate clothing. In fact, if you’re going to the Disney Parks as a young adult, you aren’t allowed to wear a costume into the park. So, this is a way that you can show your love for your favorite character and immerse yourself in the world of Disney without being in full costume. Sometimes people might not even pick up on the fact that you’re a Disney character at all.

BI: What is your favourite Disneybound outfit or accessory?

LK: I’m obsessed with the kitschy purses that are in style right now. They make for that one perfect item that helps to tie in the story of the character you’re DisneyBounding as, without being seen as a prop! Belle could have a rose purse. Alice could have a teacup purse.

BI: Is this something you do every day, or only for Disney events?

LK: I’m a blogger who works from home, so my everyday gear is usually leggings and a T-shirt but when there is a special event or I’m out and about with my friends, I usually try to put a Disney spin on my look.

BI: Why do you think the trend has caught on so quickly, and been so popular with Disney fans?

LK: From a marketing perspective, there’s a drop off for those between 16 and around 30 within the world of Disney. If you’re not a kid or you don’t have kids, it’s not uncommon to get this feeling that Disney isn’t for you — which is not the case at all! I think for a handful of Disney fans, it’s given them a place to have fun with Disney and fashion.

BI: Can you discuss the new collaboration with Disney and Cakeworthy, and what it means for Disney fans?

LK: It’s been a year in the making from our initial pitch to being able to announce it at D23. We, as Disney fans ourselves, now get to work with the company to make licensed DisneyBounding and Disney inspired street style items — featuring Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, etc. — for those just like us.

I was once a Disney fan just like every young Disney fan out there. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you will never get to be a part of something so magical, [and] that the business aspect of Disney is not for you. If you work really hard, strive to be the best you [can], you have no idea what dreams will come true.

Here are some of the best DisneyBound outfits we saw at the D23 Expo


Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Kristoff from Frozen

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Mr Smee from Peter Pan

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Belle from Beauty and the Beast

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Snow White and Sleeping Beauty

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Jasmine from Aladdin

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Nemo from Finding Nemo

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Crush from Finding Nemo

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley


Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Sleeping Beauty again

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley


Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

The Enchanted Tiki Room, an attraction at Disneyland

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

Piglet from Winnie the Pooh

Photo: Sarah Kimmorley

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