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Q&A with Catalyst Latex

Catalyst Latex are known to be big proponents of chlorinated latex, which is latex chemically treated to change the surface quality of the rubber. One of the major benefits of this is to reduce the friction of the latex and make dressing easier. Besides this, Catalyst aim to produce designs with a cut and fit akin to more regular clothing – “real clothes in rubber”. Gord from Catalyst talked in detail about these subjects with Kyle&Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog.

This is Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives fourth Q&A, and we thank them once more for sharing.

 

catalyst latex

 

Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

My name is Gord and I may be seen as the frontman at Catalyst Latex. However, I’m just part of the management team including my partner Hils and daughter Kit. My management background in engineering and materials provides functionality and rationale, but Hils’ degree from the London College of Fashion and Kit’s art college background together provided the creative aspects for Catalyst.

How did you discover latex as a material to use in fashion?  Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

I have been a latex lover for many years, but a high-flying career kept me as a purchaser of latex designs, with no time or inclination to actually make any clothing. However, my interest in latex and science led me to experiment with the chlorination of rubber – a process that gives latex clothing a totally smooth finish, ending the need for talcum powder as it was then, or lubes as used today.

 

tamar roxx polka dot latex

photo: Mary Anne Bailie; model: Tamar Roxx

 

Can you provide a bit more in depth explanation regarding chlorination? We understand it makes it smooth, knocks down the natural latex smell and may dull it.

Chlorination is a “wet” process that micro-smoothes the surface of the latex. As an end result, you will not need talc or lube in most cases to get the garment on. The outside of the garment will also be smooth.

Chlorination has added benefits as it reduces the noise and natural smell of the latex material. It will not self-stick when dried after cleaning, thus allowing for better and easier storage. The lower friction reduces external wear and enhances “layering”. Finally, there seems to be a decrease in allergenic behaviour.

Allergies to latex appear to have become an issue.  Whether or not a person has a latex allergy has become a standard question when visiting a doctor or dentist.

The allergy aspect is interesting, but as I am not a medic I cannot offer any explanation. It appears that people with a latex allergy can handle chlorinated latex. We offer free samples for people to try out for allergy. After 11 years, we have not had A SINGLE REPORT of allergic reaction to our latex samples. Though, as we’ve not plied the Pharma industries with thousands of monetary units for Official Tests, we may not claim it to work. But it sure as hell seems to.

 

Catalyst Latex nurse - John McRae Photography

“Yes – we know about your latex allergy. And no – there’s nothing for you to worry about.” photo: John McRae

 

To what degree does it still take shine and hold it? Does polishing the latex have an effect on the chlorination effect?

We don’t use or recommend shine. We’re not against it. It’s just something we don’t do.

Most latex wearing is either party or private. For party you want to show it off at its best and polish it to a perfect shine. In private that may matter less, and the sensual feel of unpolished, chlorinated latex is truly something to behold. So it’s just a bit of my own history really, not doing parties in my early days, that never brought me in touch with polish and techniques.

When you polish latex, the polish – whatever it may be – coats the surface if the latex, burying the soft, smooth caress it once held, beneath a veneer of sticky silicone stuff. You can gauge my standpoint here. The process of donning and doffing will lead to spreading that polish to the inside of the garment, concealing the smooth chlorinated surface and making it like any other ordinary latex.

Of course, if you are actually able to completely remove that silicone – and good luck to you – the original chlorinated surface will still be there for you.

How long does the chlorination effect last? Is it permanent or does it diminish in the long run? 

Chlorination, as a surface process, lasts as long as the surface. High wear areas – depending on your activity that might be knees, bums etc. – may lose the natural latex shine earlier than other areas. Chlorinated or not. Makes no difference. It is possible to rechlorinate the latex and restore the smooth feel, though not the natural shine.

 

Morphine and Dee La Beau, photo Nicholas Gray

photo: Nicholas Gray; models: Morphine and Dee La Beau

 

How difficult are repairs since latex does tear when you are not careful?

Chlorinated latex is so soft and smooth that regular latex glue has a hard time sticking to it. A conventional repair might just fail in seconds for that very reason. So you need to prep the latex first by physically breaking down the outer chlorinated skin with fine grit sandpaper, or like Scotchbrite™ nylon scourer, or similar, to score the surface and provide a good key for the adhesive. Apart from a bit of extra prep then, it’s as repairable as normal latex.

That was an interesting and informative digression on Chlorination. Back to the fashion questions: At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?

Having discovered the chlorination process, in 2004 we offered it as a service to fellow latex lovers on the internet, which drew remarkable interest and provided a second, tiny income stream. This was to prove invaluable in 2009 when redundancy from full-time management forced big decisions to be made..

A business has a number of things that one must deal with that sometimes dim one’s passion. You have rent, insurance, utilities, materials, employee salaries etc. What end of the market absorbs more time – the celebrity couture or the consumer market? How do you balance your passion for creativity with the need to be profitable?

You don’t take up mountaineering tomorrow and tackle Everest next weekend. We started slowly, in a small way, with our main income from fitting bathrooms and other small renovation works, where self-employment enabled the flexibility to maintain an income stream, while developing our latex offering.

We recognized there was a number of strong players already on the scene and felt we needed to have a clear identity to offer, so developed two clear tag-lines.

“Rubber without the Rub” summarized our promotion of chlorinated latex and at the time I believe we were the only latex clothing maker to offer full chlorination of all our products – a market leader if you like.

“Real clothes in Rubber” was put together to explain that we made latex versions of clothing you’d find in Marks & Spencer UK, Macy’s etc. So we don’t do catsuits and gimp masks, but we do beautifully tailored proper clothing, outerwear and underwear – in rubber!

 

retrofotostudio - catalyst latex

photo: Retrofotostudio; model: Jeanie Wishes

 

You’re running a business. You have competition. Rubberists often feel alone – as if they’re the only ones with this interest. The cost of latex garments is not crazy when compared to well made traditional clothes.

How sizeable do you feel the latex market is?  It must be substantially larger than a small group of people to support so many companies.

Before the advent of World Wide Web, rubberists were indeed “Alone”. Sure there were exclusive clubs, clandestine private gatherings and small adverts for “please rush me …”. The internet did as much to change all that as the steam engine did for industry.

Catalyst started with the internet, recognizing many established players, and found its own niche with Real Clothes in Rubber, and Rubber without the Rub offering of chlorinated latex. By this time, people were no longer alone and the interweb gave instant access and the ability to compare price, delivery and quality at the flick of a mouse.

Our market research shows the marketplace to be growing still, with a huge influx of young adventurous, sexy, nerdy types hungry for shiny, cosplay, streetable, sexy latex that’s easy to wear and care for, and those criteria are a big part of what we offer the market today.

But we still offer the old school mainstays and find a remarkable following in our Victorian latex line, sleepwear, and just real clothes in rubber.

In our short existence on the scene, we have already seen several brands come and go, some with adventurous styles, others with knock-down prices. We’re here for good, with the stuff that most people really want to wear.

 

catalyst latex pyjamas

 photo: Shaun Hodge; model: Araneae Mactans

 

Latex can be described as a “Fetish,” a “kink”, “Alternative fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?

With “Real clothes in Rubber” becoming accepted as a tagline, we found the sweet spot between fetish and fashion where folk of all ages and backgrounds could find latex they could be comfortable with, and comfortable in.

It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin.” Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits?

Looking again at real clothing, we see some garments need to be close-fitting like undergarments, lingerie, stockings, swimwear etc., whereas flowy dresses, puffer jackets, lounge pants are better as a loose fit. The extra benefit of chlorinated latex is the ‘swish factor’ as the latex will never self-stick, but moves and flows like silk!

If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without “undergarments”? Does that intimidate people from wearing it?

Someone asked if they should wear their bra under a latex dress. It was hard to find kind words to portray the mush of damp polyester wadding and wet flesh that would occur, so we only ever recommend wearing latex under latex, under latex – hell, as many layers as you like! Chlorinated latex layers just slide over one another. Wear latex knickers under your latex dress – real clothes.

 

latex lingerie

photo: Chris Gray; model: Arum (@littlesquiggle)

 

In your experience, how concerned are people about body image when considering fashion choices? Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions?

Latex can be as revealing or concealing, according to garment style and size; our client base runs from stick-thin to absolutely huge (can we say that??). We can only guess that it depends on the context of how and where an outfit will be worn, and many other factors personal to the individual.

Do you feel latex tends to express one’s body with honesty as if is was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?

Very similar to your previous point. More a question for the catsuit manufacturers I reckon. Look at our flowing styles to see that latex clothing can be selected to enhance any body type or shape. It’s a beautifully natural, draping fabric that can flatter anyone in the right garment.

 

catalyst latex slim fit cardigan

photo: Darkslide Photography; model: Baneology 

 

How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), celebrity couture?

Celebrity couture is quite subtle and usually it is the stylist making the inquiry/order. It will be quite specific and exacting, and surprisingly tight on budget at the outset. Get the stylist onside with a basic appraisal, add in the extras and get famous! Not quite, as you may never be fully sure who will wear it and to what event.

With regard to real folk like you and I, we need to define the word ‘customer’. There’s the adventurous ‘vanilla’ girl buying a pencil dress for a party, there’s a man buying for his partner, there’s a Domme being bought-for by a client, there’s a pseudonym buying a dress for himself … you should never doubt or question, but so often the sizing data will reveal another story so yes, regardless of the name on the PayPal, the end-wearer could be anyone. Who is the customer there?

Our only concern, particularly when a man buys a woman’s style for himself is that it should end up looking good, so that he will feel great. When people try to conceal or blur the truth, it makes it harder for us to deliver the look they ultimately crave. So please folk, be honest and upfront!

What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?

One of our earliest and most enduring Statement Pieces is still our Catalyst Kilt. It remains to this day the most authentically styled kilt on the market. Sure, it’s not cheap but takes a full 2-3 days to make and meticulously finish, gives years of service and excellent value.

Women’s wear is harder to pinpoint as we change many of our styles each season, but for sheer volume, our underwired pencil dress, fully chlorinated for easy-on, has been a runaway winner the past 18 months!

 

catalyst latex kilts 830

photo: Shayne Fergusson; models: Aussie Pole Boys Steve Watson & Peter Pavlov

 

People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat too much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex. How do you address those concerns?

I tell them to buy Spandex! Seriously, people that drill down to us are already committed to latex. We are not an entry-level designer, and happily rarely get entry-level questions (We do, but we’re not telling!). Has to be said also that all our chlorinated pieces have reduced odour and increased wearability.

What is your design philosophy? What drives your creativity?

Listen to your customers and watch TV! Filter out the background of catsuit inquiries and see what interesting outfits people want. Keep an eye to the Cosplay arena. Listen to your photo models as they pick up on styles from places we don’t go. Watch TV, read fashion mags. Our best-selling dress ever evolved from a UK TV prog! See what’s trending, what the people are ‘liking’ and above all, be aware of Copyright.

 

latex sailor moon

photo: Steve Prue for Cosplay Culture Magazine; models (left to right): Luna Lovebad, Kota Wade, Kelly Eden, Vivid Vivka, Stephanie Michelle

 

Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?

Not fussed. We all have skin and integrate it with our clothing. I’m not a 100% coverage purist. Whatever works and makes a confident look is more important than some random ethos.

How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?

Oh wow. I think this is our Soapbox.

To begin, chlorinated latex needs no talc or lube and so can just be ‘worn’ like everyday clothing. It is soft and smooth and has no surface drag so integrates nicely with/over/under other fabrics. Chlorination does NOT make the latex more shiny (mythbuster there), rather if anything it dulls down the lustre. Many folk find our chlorinated blends in with everyday clothing, as opposed to the highly polished ‘obviously fetish’ latex we see elsewhere. Again it’s that wearing just one piece of soft chlorinated latex, typically a tee or leggings, with your 90% regular streetwear that gives you the buzz without the attention. When you get real confident – then get out the polish, if you need to make a statement.

What are your goals for your future in latex design?

Carry on making Real clothes in Rubber, and get our chlorination better than perfect! Avoid the catsuit trap – everyone else makes them, mostly very well – no benefit for us. Listen to customers and try to make their dreams come true (unless they want a catsuit).

What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

Not sure there is one. It’s bloody hard work. You have to deal with a whole range of customer inquiries from the most sensible to the most, well, rude! It’s not just about cutting and glueing, but we do accounts and payroll, health and safety, purchasing and stock control, social media … but I think I personally get into the best headspace when I’m actually making up a garment. It’s the craft, the feel, the aim for total perfection every time and the satisfaction of holding up a customer order when made, looking at it and thinking, that’s perfect!

 

natalienightwolf - catalyst latex

Natalie Nightwolf fell in love with the Connie Dress when she tried it on her youtube channel

 

What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?

To build a business with a solid reputation, a go-to brand, a name people know they can trust, a place they can always find something new and exciting, an entity I can pass on to our next generation to carry on developing and delivering.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different. They express that fear through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.

This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively.

Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be commonplace? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?

What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?

Hmmm – not my president, but I take the sentiment. Nah, latex will never be mainstream. Too picky and care-needy. Men will always be the big fetishistas and women the fashionistas. Generally.

Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?

Most men are too scared to buy anything slightly unusual (exceptions always exist – I’m talking down the average). A designer may invest a lot of time and resource designing a new rage for men, big launch etc., and never see the sales to recover the investment. Sad but true. So why should a designer bother, frankly?

Example – we put a photo of a new style on Social Media. If it’s a girl’s style we get hundreds of likes, if it’s for men, maybe a handful. What does that tell you?

Is there anything you would like to add?

No – I’d just add it’s taken me 8 weeks to get to this point and I’d not want to delay any further. Thanks for the opportunity to express!

Thank You.

 

tamar roxx - catalyst latex

photo: Mary Anne Bailie; model: Tamar Roxx

 

Thank you to Gord for his participation, and to Kyle&Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A.

Header photo: Paul Ward Photography, Model Tamar Roxx

Links:

Previous Q&As:

 

leomieanderson - meat latex

Farewell to the MEAT latex label

Today we learned the unfortunate news that the MEAT brand is to cease trading. The announcement was originally made via the Instagram of one of the founders, Boadicea Claridge, though we first found out through an interview of Boadicea by Papermag.

 

Demi Rose wears MEAT latex in this shoot by Gavin Glave for Sixty6 Magazine

 

MEAT, as even the name suggests, were distinctive in the latex space. Easy to wear, loose cut, brighter colours, heavy use of patterns, and in-your-face slogans and branding; it all resulted in some contemporary, youthful and urban styles – which just so happened to made from rubber.

 

meat latex - brooke candy Photography Anthony Nguyen for out mag

Brooke Candy, photography by Anthony Nguyen for Out Magazine

 

They had their celebrity fans, too, and when we posted about them it was often in relation to appearances and performances of Charli XCX. See our post about her latex looks here.

We also have MEAT to thank for inspiring our first music video review! The video was for the song One More by Elliphant and MØ. The combination of visual style, vocals and music, and how latex was worked seamlessly into the whole aesthetic, makes it still one of our favourite music videos featuring latex fashion.

 

 

It’s always a shame when any latex label closes doors, and especially one with such a unique identity. We appreciate MEAT’s willingness to explore latex fashions and to take the material in some bold new directions, infusing every design with personality. We wish designers Alis Pelleschi and Boadicea Claridge every success in their future projects!

Below you can watch Danielle Greco from the fashion platform VFILES. VFILES at one time carried MEAT latex in their online fashion store, and for this live broadcast Danielle wore one of their outfits. We’re sure it’s borderline cheating to take an ice bucket challenge wearing 100% waterproof clothing, but we’re not complaining!

 

 

Header image: Leomie Anderson

 

ak-bg-6

Q&A with Atsuko Kudo

As one of, if not the most eminent designer of luxury latex couture, Atsuko Kudo barely needs introducing. Her label’s rise in popularity has been marked by an explosion of interest from celebrities, performers and fashionistas, which in turn has contributed towards an unprecedented mainstream awareness of and interest in latex fashion generally.

Atsuko Kudo’s popularity is not due merely to powerful branding or famous associations, of course, but her sophisticated and feminine designs, employing technologically complex innovations such as prints, lace effects or perforated patterns.

Atsuko Kudo took part in blogger KyleSelina’s latest Q&A, and we thank KyleSelina once more for sharing.

 

ak logo black

Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

I have studied fashion in Tokyo where I discovered latex then I moved to London to study theatre costume and nightclubs!

How did you discover latex as a material to use in fashion?  Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

As above, I discovered latex when I was studying fashion in Tokyo. It was a part of the college course to do market research. I chose to visit a sex shop. I fell in love with the fabric. I love the look and feel of latex. I felt like a superwoman when I wore it. Later it became my passion to dress other women to discover the magic of latex and feel empowered.

 

The ‘Restricted Love’ collection shown at Lingerie London, 2012

 

At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?

I was making clothes for myself and friends to wear for parties. One day I got a call from Coco de Mer when it first opened – they wanted to stock my latex. I was making clothes from my living room alone, I didn’t even have a price list but I set up a business so that I could start to sell!

A business has a number of things that one must deal with that sometimes dim one’s passion. You have rent, insurance, utilities, materials, employee salaries etc.  Is the market for latex adequate to balance the pressures of business?  What end of the market absorbs more time – the celebrity couture or the consumer market? How do you balance your passion for creativity with the need to be profitable?

The latex industry is still very young and small compared to ordinary fashion. The costs of running a business in London are high. Because we are a couture brand and have a shop, design studio, staff and offices we have even more costs. Many of the garments we create are made to fit individual customers. Everything is handmade in London.

If you haven’t got a factory to cut down the cost like big fashion brands or just exist as a one-woman band with no shop or staff to avoid paying high overheads it’s even tougher. Actually the market price for latex doesn’t really make sense because the expectation is for it to be a cheap product. You just try to be good, creative, and prepared to work hard for everything.

However we have such a passion for latex and want to make sure it’s done at the very highest standard so we are always feeling creative. You have to love what you are doing and believe that you can achieve your best work. I hope the passion shows in what people see with our latex designs.

 

timeout atsuko kudo store london

Atsuko Kudo’s boutique at Holloway Road, London. Photo: Timeout

 

Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?

I like them all!

It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin”. Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits?

One of the big strengths of latex fabric is the second skin element. It can fit beautifully like a glove so long as it’s cut correctly – so it’s perfect for bodycon styles but let’s not limit our perception. Loose garments can be wonderful too. For example, we make a very nice trench coat which is not bodycon at all but I think it is very sexy.

If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without undergarments?  Does that intimidate people from wearing it?

It’s nice to wear it without underwear. If latex is cut correctly it will give you support like a shapewear. You can wear with underwear of course. There are no rules. But some garments have got bra cups already built in. A lot of our dresses come this way – we recommend not to wear a bra underneath those items.

 

Top: Mabel McVey; Above: Nicola Peltz

 

In your experience, how concerned are people about body image when considering fashion choices? Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions?

Do you feel latex tends to express one’s body with honesty as if it was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?

We offer different styles to suits all sizes, shapes and ages of women. As above, if the garment is cut to the correct size and thickness it will work as shapewear. There are garments with built-in bra cups, and corsets to give extra support available too.

Overall if you choose the correct garments and they are well designed and cut then latex will make the most of your body in the way you want it to be expressed – and that is the most important thing.

How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?

Atsuko Kudo latex is for everyone who wishes to feel beautiful, feminine and strong!

What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career, for a man and for a woman?

For a woman… we’ve created so many pieces for so many incredible women and I love them all – but if I have to choose one it has to be the red dress that Lady Gaga wore to meet the Queen of England! It was an iconic performance by Gaga and the dress looked amazing on her. I was also so happy to see the Queen’s smile when she met Gaga. I felt it was a bit like royal approval for latex fashion – not that the latex community needs that of course but it was just funny. Latex had been seen as only more hardcore and S&M but everything seemed to change from that moment. I am so grateful to be part of it.

For a man…. I made a special hand-painted cheongsam dress for Simon Hoare who is my longtime collaborator, business partner, muse and later became my husband – it was for a Millennium party – the year 2000 was when I started Atsuko Kudo.

 

Lady Gaga’s Royal Variety Performance, 2009 – she wore this dress to meet Elizabeth II

 

People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat too much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex. How do you address those concerns?

I actually like the fact that latex has all of those qualities. It’s not easy to wear it. You have to go through some suffering but …. the results are amazing.

I see latex the same as other fetish items like high heels, corsets etc – they are not easy but they are worth it…

Do I want to look like someone selling sex? – Yes. Sometimes. On my own terms. It’s interesting – not boring. So long as it is all under your control.

What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

I want to empower woman through latex. I want to see a shiny sexy woman living the life she wants and deserves. I want to see a more shiny world full of love.

Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?

I love both. It is not necessary to decide one or another.

How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?

There are no rules. But you may not want to wear head to toe latex for every day. You can easily mix a latex pencil skirt or leggings with other materials. And accessories such as gloves, collars, belts, hats, look great. It’s however you feel – do what you want to do!

 

atsuko kudo latex pencil skirt

Mixing a latex pencil skirt with other materiels, by Style On The Couch blog. 

 

What are your goals for your future in latex design?

I want to dress the Queen of England in our latex one day. When she celebrated her 60 year diamond jubilee she had a photographic exhibition in Windsor castle with one photo per year and chose that picture with Lady Gaga to represent the year 2009. It seemed so far away before but after seing her with Gaga there may be a tiny chance? I would design a classical style suit and hat like she wears now in a bright colour would be nice. It would be a pleasure and my ultimate dream.

What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

To be able to meet and work with so many amazing people and projects. We get to work with the world’s top superstars and creative artists but also what nobody sees is that we mostly work with people you will never hear about because they are ordinary people buying an extraordinary product to make some special moments in their life feel even more special.

Some time ago we made briefs and a corset for a very large sized girl (14 x XL) who wanted to feel and look beautiful for her husband. She could not find the outfit that made her feel that way so visited us to make her own unique pieces. When she wore the outfit there were some tears both in her and her husband’s eyes.

These stories of ordinary people you never really hear about but they are just as beautiful as the ones in the newspaper. Often more so.

What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?

I want to dress many more women to make the world more shiny and lovely. That can happen in many unexpected ways. Recently we dressed a car and supermodel Natasha Poly at the same time for a fashion campaign for Mercedes Benz A/W 2016 in which AK was the chosen brand. We vacuum bagged the car in a concrete factory in Miami, Florida – it was epic!

Also we dressed a set and models covered in 99.9% latex for a Veuve Cliquot champagne party last year. It was a fashion/art event curated by former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld and we collaborated with her along with work from Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford. The event was directed by theatre director Patrick Kinmonth. It was such a thrill and a great experience and I think took latex to another place as the audience were coming into the concept from a very different angle.

Now we have dressed a big car and the set that we never thought to dress, what’s next? The blue sky can be anything…

 

Atsuko Kudo Latex Veuve Clicquot

Top: Mercedes Benz Fashion Film; Above: Atsuko Kudo with models for the Veuve Clicquot event ‘SEVEN’. Photo: Dave Benett

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different. They express that fear through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.

This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be commonplace? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?

What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?

It’s ok to be yourself and respect others, we are all different. If someone is nervous about a fabric choice then it is probably them that has the problem. Stop fear and make love the goal.

Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?

Men’s latex can look great too. But it’s different of course. We specialize in women but we do a range of good suits and accessories for men – but only really in store. So you have to visit us! Then I can show what is available for men.

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you are thinking about trying latex or even Atsuko Kudo latex for the first time I would say if you can then try to visit us. The experience we try to give is unlike normal shopping. We sell our clothes in our flagship store in London.

But we also sell to many people online who we never meet by using measurements and possibly some photos. We always prefer to meet in person but it’s not always possible. Some of the public/celebrity work that you may have seen might be done this way too. We hope we can help you too. Looking forward to seeing you in Atsuko Kudo! xx

 

emcmk in Atsuko Kudo latex by amyspanos-b

Photo: Amy Spanos, Model: Em Cmk

 

Thank you to KyleSelina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A, and to Atsuko Kudo for her participation.

Header photo: Peter Ashworth

Links:

Previous Q&As:

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Kirsten Li talks latex with Racked

One of the best and most wide-ranging introductions to latex clothing; in this video Racked speaks to designer Kirsten Li, and the amount of ground covered in the short 2 and a half minute duration is surprising.

 

 

Besides getting an up-close look at some of Kirsten’s gorgeous designs, Kirsten talks us through the unique appeals of the material and why people love to wear it, beginning with its inherent material qualities, tactile sensation, visual allure and contradictions; its surprises and the misconceptions surrounding it.

 

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Of course, this is placed in the wider context of its impact on those around, namely its shock value or ‘taboo’ status (which itself is often part of the appeal).

We also get a quick insight into the design process – the pattern cutting and glueing – while Kirsten talks us through latex’s natural and green origins, how it’s cared for, and how to put it on.

 

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Last but not least, the dichotomy of fetish and fashion can never be ignored, latex occupying both these spaces due to its great versatility, sensuality and tendency to make a bold statement of avant-garde style. We think it’s rarely a binary issue: its allure and power often lies in a deliberate blurring of the line.

Kirsten Li Designs

 

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Q&A with Rebecca Allsop of Yummy Gummy Latex

Yummy Gummy Latex is a latex clothing design and sheeting manufacturer from the UK, run by Rebecca Allsop. They are best known for their hand-poured sheeting production process, which results in latex with eye-catching effects, such as glitter colours, marbled (multi-coloured) latex, textures, print-effect and other patterns.

Besides using this sheeting for their own clothing, Yummy Gummy’s distinctive and colourful effects have made it a popular source for latex sheeting for other latex clothing designers.

This is blogger Kyle Selina’s second Q&A after his previous with Simon Rose of Libidex.

 

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Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

I have no fashion background as such. I think I did one term for Fashion Design Tech at year 9 before changing modules to Dance. Much like Simon from Libidex I am a Psychology graduate from Coventry University.

After university, I found myself a job in a wedding dress shop and loved every minute of helping brides try on different styles and find their dress. Soon after, I was given the knowledge of how to make sheets of latex from liquid latex and my natural creativeness and interest in fashion took over and Yummy Gummy was born.

How did you discover latex as a material to use in fashion?  Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

The person that gave me the latex knowledge had some bits of sheet latex hanging around which I wasn’t very impressed with. It was only through him showing me what it was and telling me how people made clothes from it that I discovered the things you could do with it. At first, I didn’t like wearing latex, but that might have been because all there was to try was a moulded bodysuit, but at another photoshoot I was introduced to glued latex.

The bodysuit was very very tight. I couldn’t get it past my knees and I had to be shoehorned in. I was terrified of it not fitting. I now know that it was a totally normal experience and fit, but to start with it was a bit daunting not being able to dress myself. I loved the way it felt, though, and felt totally comfortable prancing around in a wood in heelless shoes in it for the rest of the day.

It is an incredibly moreish material. Whether you’re making or buying, you always have the next outfit you want lined up almost before you’ve bought/made the first piece. Here I am today with a wardrobe of over 80 pieces that I made just for myself and there are many more things I have planned still to make.

 

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Rebecca modelling her Sunshine Gold Leopard Latex

 

At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?

Around the Christmas of 2012, I started making little sheets of latex at home on the kitchen table. I thought it would be a part-time hobby job that I would do after work or something like that. It wasn’t until April 2013 that I realized it was becoming much more than just a hobby job. I registered as self-employed when I was let go from my job in August, I haven’t looked back since. My life since then has been Yummy Gummy; I no longer know where I end and it begins.

A business has a number of things that one must deal with that sometimes dim one’s passion. You have rent, insurance, utilities, materials, employee salaries etc.  Is the market for latex adequate to balance the pressures of business?  What end of the market absorbs more time – the celebrity couture or the consumer market? How do you balance your passion for creativity with the need to be profitable?

I only worry when I get quiet during summer. I got so used to making latex every day for 7 days a week that if I’m not doing that I worry I don’t have enough work. However, Yummy Gummy has allowed me to save substantially and I bought a house in March 2017, so things are going pretty well.

I’d love to do more celebrity clothing or sheeting. Vex Clothing in the US, who works for a lot of celebs, buys my sheeting so it’s only a matter of time before something appears somewhere pretty cool. I find the more I get creative with the latex the more profitable things get. For example, I made a new latex patterning technique that I ran an Instagram competition for called #namethatlatex. From that, I decided to call it Acid Splatter and I have sold a fair few sheets of it since.

People love new things and colours and patterns so I have to push myself and be as creative as possible to keep ahead of the game and people interested in me. A lot of the time customers don’t know what they want until they see it. I have to keep guessing what it is they might want and keep putting it in front of them.

 

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Obsidian Latex: coloured glitter mixed in with black latex.

 

Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?

It’s a bit of everything. It is mostly still in the Alternative reaches of fashion. It’s worn when the wearer wants to feel edgy; it’s like leather trousers or a vinyl coat. It’s worn as a statement, to not blend in. If it’s not worn as a statement, it’s worn for the thrill of the wearer. It makes you feel how no other fabric makes you feel.

That heightened feeling of empowerment, sexuality and security: nothing else can make you feel like that. It’s an addictive feeling, mixed with the exhilaration of feeling nearly naked. It’s a naughty combination, and if you enjoy attention it can be very fun to wear to non-kink events. You can see why celebrities enjoy wearing it.

It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin”. Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits? If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without undergarments?  Does that intimidate people from wearing it?

It can be both. It can be rather luxurious when draped, especially when it’s wafty thin; it can feel like satin, only if it is left talcy though. Tight is what everyone is used to and familiar with when associating latex to a look. When wearing something very tight, it is better to not wear anything underneath or something with minimal lines that will not dig into the skin and show. Also, anything you wear underneath will get soaked through with sweat.

The tightness and weight of latex makes wearing no knickers feel safer than if wearing normal clothes, as it is less likely to ride due to its figure-hugging nature. However, if the latex has a bad fit all sorts of accidents could happen. It’s always best to get good-fitting latex by checking your measurements against designers’ measurement charts or buying made-to-measure. I myself, in some garments, will wear no knickers but a bra to give myself some shape as latex can have a boob flattening effect if you don’t have a lot of volume.

As for intimidating: once you’ve tried it once everything is all fine, but it is always a bit scary going commando for the first time no matter what fabric you’re wearing.

 

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Extra-thin latex can feel like luxurious silk or satin – if it’s lightly powdered with talc

 

In your experience, how concerned are people about body image when considering fashion choices? Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions? Do you feel latex tends to express one’s body with honesty as if it was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?

Everyone has their own demons and niggles that they will see even if they’re naked. You have to have this sorted in your head first. Anything tight you see yourself in you’re going to hate if you don’t already like yourself. I have found that some people have enjoyed the sucking-in effect that a skin-tight latex dress can offer, while others have plucked at their flat stomachs convinced that they look pregnant.

I offer waist-cinching belts that accentuate curves which always have a positive effect on the wearer regardless of size. The curvier the customer the more these belts change their shape making it look more hourglass. (see: wide pointed belt in the shop).

Latex is something that is tight so will smooth out the lines of the figure, but it’s not a steel boned corset (unless that’s built in) so it’s not going to drastically change a body shape. I am working with Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust; she is about a 24/26 in my latex. She sometimes enjoys wearing shapewear under latex and sometimes goes without. It depends how hugged in, tight and controlled she wants to feel. You can never tell if she has it on because shapewear is made so there are no lines and everything tucks into where garments start and end, e.g. at the waist, or becomes looser at the knee. This is a good option for people that feel they need that extra bit of support.

 

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Wide Pointed Belt and Peplum Belt, styled with Marble Latex

 

How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?

Well, I’m mostly targeted towards women’s so I see a lot of that. However working closely with Latex101 I see that there is a massive gay men’s scene that the general latex community doesn’t see. I’d say there is probably a bigger market for men’s that comes out of the gay scene, but in the latex community outside of the gay scene it’s more catered to women, as straight ladies are more likely to be experimental in their fashion than straight men.

You can see this in most smaller latex brands (like myself) have 90% ladies wear and 10% men’s. Latex is growing in popularity in the trans and drag scene; I get a few my way but because I’m not fully tapped into it I can’t speak too much for it.

What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?

You can’t ask me this question! It is so hard! I’ve made so many pieces for fashion shows and the like. My favourite thing that I sell is the Strappy Dress which is such a beautiful figure-hugging dress. It lends itself to any style and pattern of latex. I offered it in Asylum Latex [Yummy Gummy’s hand-print effect latex sheeting] in red-silver ombre for Halloween and black-gold ombre for Christmas. I would have one in every colour I can make.

As for sheet latex, my favourite that I’ve made is Opal Marble in colour change. It’s an explosion of colours and looks intergalactic! I would have every item of clothing I’ve made in that latex! I love a big swishy ball gown that sounds like thunder when you walk but the dress I’ve worn the most to non-latex events has been my floral dress as it transcends all fashions.

As for men’s, I didn’t make the garment but I made a Water Marble poppy latex on silver for Latex101, who made it into a t-shirt for a loyal customer. That is one of my most favourite menswear pieces that I was involved with making. This customer had amazing ideas and really believed in my ability and would always order something I hadn’t worked out how to make yet in order to push me just a little bit further each time. I love it when customers understand my capabilities and can imagine how I could manipulate latex into the pattern they want.

 

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Men’s Side Zip Short Sleeve Shirt

 

People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat too much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex. How do you address those concerns?

If you don’t like it don’t buy it, but try it first. I’ve converted many a sceptic by just putting them in it; very few get undressed still disliking it. If people like it but feel they’re selling sex then they just need to sort out in their heads and just own it and ignore the people they think will think they’re selling sex. Or they need to wear it to latex-friendly parties where they will feel right at home and everyone will be admiring them.

What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

ALL OF THE COLOURS!! How do I make black more interesting? How can I make sheet latex better? How can I cater to as many body shapes as possible with this design? How can I corrupt latex virgins?

Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?

Something that covers more gives me more to play with design wise, however I am looking at making lingerie at the moment which is less than a dress but I’m still enjoying how to cut things so it shows off the best parts and hugs in all the right ways. For me, it’s all about the latex pattern, so the less latex in an outfit the less you can see the pattern that I’ve put all the effort into making.

How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?

It’s always easiest with all fashion statements to have the slightly bonkers thing on the bottom half. I have worn latex skirts with black simple fabric tops to the Panto in London and the Royal Albert Hall. I prefer to wear latex skirts as they’re free and easy and less restrictive when walking about London on a day out. If I wasn’t making latex I would have bought latex leggings to wear somewhere fancy for a night out instead of skinny jeans.

 

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Mixing and matching: a good way to integrate latex wear into the “everyday”

 

What are your goals for your future in latex design?

Take over the world! I’d like to dress Lady Gaga. I might have my latex on her soon in her tour, fingers crossed!!! I’d like to have my clothes in more shops, like high-end boutiques that already see £300 fabric dresses. I look forward to designing new collections and creating new colours and patterns of latex in the future. I can’t say what they’re going to be because I don’t even know what direction my head and new techniques I discover will take me.

What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

Seeing people in their clothes that they’ve bought and loving it! It’s the most rewarding thing to see customers enjoying wearing their latex that I’ve designed and made from scratch, and now they’re wearing it looking amazing. Also, watching fashion shows where another designer has bought my latex and made something of their own out of it. I love seeing how other designers creatively use my latex.

What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?

Breaking the boundaries of how latex can look. Having people not immediately dive into black latex and consider having something a little more colourful or just a little less boring, e.g. colour change opal marble – black, but colourful – which will go with a myriad of outfits.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different. They express that fear through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.

This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be commonplace? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?

What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?

I think the reason latex hasn’t fully transcended like leather trousers is the fragility of it. The everyday is a dangerous place for latex, with inexperienced wearers and sharp things everywhere that could rip it. Because the best latex is made in western countries where wages are higher, this results in the price of latex being higher. This means that if it is fragile people don’t want to be wearing it on the everyday, as they don’t want to ruin the £100 leggings just mucking around, or have an idiot grab at their £140 dress on a night out. But they also don’t want their expensive clothing hanging about unworn in a cupboard.

There’s a lot that that can be blamed on attitudes towards sexuality. I have been worried about wearing latex to a club because I fear the wrong kind of male attention. If women get leered at wearing fabric dresses we fear twice as worse if we’re looking even sexier in something shiny. Latex catches the light and as it is a rare thing to be seen it’ll attract a little more attention. As more and more latex is seen around and about, the less it’ll bring curiosity.

So yes, at the moment it is very much fear of fear itself; I fear the potential attention I might get while wearing latex around a bunch of drunk men that haven’t seen it before. In reality, the times I’ve worn it out it’s been during the day and not in the club and no one has mentioned anything or pointed anything out. The times I’ve worn my floral dress around and about no one as either noticed it’s latex or have only complimented me on how pretty and unusual it is.

 

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Floral Dress: simply too pretty to be reserved just for the clubs

 

Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?

I think to be good at selling menswear you need a lot of variety. I offer 3 men’s shirts, when I had them on my stall I only sold the button down polo shirts and hardly any [men] looked at the side zip shirts I was offering, but I always have men ask for more variety. What straight men want is their familiar clothes made into latex so it’s not too much of a scary transition. Something that buttons down with a collar or a looser fitting t-shirt is closer to what they’re used to wearing every day than a tight fitting t-shirt or slightly funky zip shirt.

Either that or they drive a hard bargain, as menswear sold faster than ladies in my boxing day sale. I enjoy and find it easier to design women’s clothes (being a woman). I’ve had a lot of practice and know what women want and like to wear. I’d love to make more menswear but because when I dipped my toe in designing something a little different and customers still only bought the regular polo shirts it kind of put me off wanting to go out on a limb and design more.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Be wary of other people making their own sheet latex. Latex can cause allergic reactions if it isn’t the right kind of liquid latex and the right kind of pigments. I haven’t just worked this all out for myself from a fashion degree at uni: I was taught by someone that used to make sheet latex 20 years ago, who gave me the right suppliers to buy the right kind of pigments and latex from. I know what I make is high quality and safe to wear.

I’d like to thank my boyfriend Sam Wright and my long suffering helpers Meg and Nicola for putting up with all my shit and helping out at my markets; Latex 101 for their advice and support from the very beginning; my customers for believing in what I make and for astounding me everyday that someone wants to buy what I make and having such amazingly creative ideas; and lastly but not least the late Matthew Brown for giving me the knowledge and encouragement to go forth and start Yummy Gummy – without him I would be working a normal boring job and the latex scene would still be black and red.

 

Thank you to Kyle Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A, and to Rebecca Allsop for her participation.

Inline photos are copyright of Photographer Dan Thomas

We hope to provide credit for the gorgeous header image used – if you are aware of its source please contact us.

Links:

libidex latex raincoat by flaunt

Q&A with Simon Rose from Libidex

Libidex is one of the biggest UK latex clothing companies, certainly offering the largest range of women’s and men’s clothing I’ve seen, all designed from the company’s own latex sheeting brand: Radical Rubber. With control over the sheet manufacturing process, Libidex are able to price their garments competitively while retaining quality of design. They market to all audiences of latex wear, with entire collections based around either fetish or latex fashion themes; just this summer they launched a new Men’s Fashion Range, and this sits right alongside their ‘Hard & Heavy’ BDSM based collection: a clear message as to the spectrum of latex clothing on offer, and Libidex’s readiness to cater for all.

Simon Rose of Libidex agreed to take part in a Q&A with blogger Kyle Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives Blog, and a recurring theme was this relationship of fetish and fashion, not only from the perspective of Libidex itself but also in the context of wider developments and trends in latex clothing and how it relates to fashion and pop culture.

 

Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

I am Simon Rose, Libidex owner and creative director and co-founder. I have a Psychology degree from Lancaster University. I am an avid reader, world traveler and latex fashion trendsetter.

How did you discover latex as a material to use in fashion?  Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

I grew up in a military family and from birth I was surrounded by uniforms, rubberized chemical warfare suits and gas masks (one of my favorite toys).  From there I discovered Atomage and early Skin Two magazine and everything fell into place.

At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?

In 1994 I was working with English latex designer pioneer Helen Saffery at Libidex in London. The label was still in its infancy and earlier on I spotted a huge opportunity to take Libidex to the next level making it the fetish powerhouse that it is today.

My inspiration came from the idea of offering customers both fetish and fashion latex clothes in one place.

A business has a number of things that one must deal with that sometimes dim one’s passion. You have rent, insurance, utilities, materials, employee salaries etc.  Is the market for latex adequate to balance the pressures of business?  What end of the market absorbs more time – the celebrity couture or the consumer market? How do you balance your passion for creativity with the need to be profitable?

Most certainly the consumer market. Celebrity endorsement doesn’t pay our bills in fact we turn away quite a few celebrity requests, from stylists, photographers etc. We just make sure we design popular items that are also creative, fresh and new.

 

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‘Liberation’ is the name of Libidex’s brick-and-mortar shop, located in Covent Garden, London

 

Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?

Whatever name people are comfortable with. I like Fetish better. Because that is what it is after all.

It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin”. Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits? If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without undergarments?  Does that intimidate people from wearing it?

Not necessarily as many designs in our range are loose fitting. For example, our Swing Circle Skirt or Rebelle Dress as well as our Pyjamas to name but a few. Not everyone likes to be squeezed in on tight latex. There are no rules and if there are, I live by the motto the rules are only there to be broken. If you feel freer wearing your latex with nothing underneath that is your own personal choice. The Scottish have done that for centuries. But if you prefer to have pants and bras under your latex garment and that makes you feel good, go for it!

In your experience, how concerned are people about body image when considering fashion choices? Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions?

Do you feel latex tends to express one’s body with honesty as if is was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?

We have customers of all sizes and we cater for them offering a size range that goes from XXS to 6XL so you will always find something that will suit you. Everyone is different and some people prefer tight fitting catsuits and corsets and others want to be able to breathe and be comfortable while wearing latex, so they should do whatever they feel the most comfortable with. Some people wear it for fetish and some for fashion.

 

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Tight, figure-hugging dresses may get all the column inches, but latex clothing also comes in looser, relaxed garments, combining comfort with the sensual feel and glossy appearance

 

How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?

We probably sell a bit more for our male customers, but women buy a lot from us too as do the transgender community. We cater for everyone.

What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?

Ummm that’s a hard one but one of my most fun was my Black Betty catsuit which is for all sexes and trans.

People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat too much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex. How do you address those concerns?

Latex is like marmite you either love or hate it. You can be converted into it by a loved one or a friend but mostly it like a fire that burns you up inside, an uncontrollable desire to dress head to toe in shiny latex.

What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

I have many different sources of inspiration, from classic literature, to films, music, art, period costumes, contemporary fashion. The fetish scene in Europe and its many clubs and events is an endless font of inspiration. Seeing what people are wearing is a fun and fabulous way to come up with new designs and ideas.

Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?

It depends of the occasion, what collection I am working on. More is definitely more.

 

libidex latex raincoat by flaunt 2
You say ‘non-breathable’, we say ‘100% guaranteed rain-proof’. Tomayto, tomahto!

 

How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?

Latex leggings can be beautifully paired with jackets, or a latex skirt with fabric blouse. Guys can have classic latex jeans in some funky colour with a cotton T-shirt.

What are your goals for your future in latex design?

To keep bringing affordable, exciting and innovative collections to our customers.

What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

Designing new collections. The research process is very exciting.

What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?

From gluing my first suspender belt in 1990 to the present day, Libidex has had to overcome a huge number of challenges and obstacles. Every collection photographed and each of our fashion shows are always memorable moments. The fact that we are still here, bigger and better and appreciated by rubberists the world over, over 25 years later is what gets me out of bed with a smile on my face.

 

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Libidex are popular for their catsuits, commissioned here for Girls Aloud’s ‘Sexy! No No No’ video. Libidex also provided a transparent catsuit for the cyborg in the film ‘Machine’ (2014)

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different. They express that fear through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.

This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be common place? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?

What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?

This is 2017 and latex fashion is everywhere. Pop videos, TV, commercials, youtube, Instagram, and social media have done wonders to remove the stigma associated to latex. And it all depends how you present it. Of course if you turn up in full Dominatrix gear you will raise the wrong kind of attention but if you wear something more fashion orientated, you could be fine even at your work place. Society is changing and so is people’s perception of latex wear.

No I don’t think men’s wear is more extreme than women’s at all.

Go for it, start with something bright and colourful, mix it up with something quirky and you will be fine.

Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?

Yes 100% men’s clothes can be exciting, varied and colourful. The new Male Fashion Collection we are working on at the moment is a testament of that.

You have expanded your line greatly. What drives the expansion?

Demand, our customers always want new styles and designs and as long as there is interest from them we will be more than willing to oblige.

 

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Certain items offer a casual, everyday sort of clothing – but in latex

 

Thank you to Kyle Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A, and to Simon Rose for his participation.

Links:

Latex Leggings

Latex leggings are a great way to introduce some latex into your wardrobe, whether you’re a first-timer curious about the material, or simply looking for the kind of latex fashion item that can give an edge to your style.

 

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Mary D Model in Amy Grey Latex katerina piglet kay morgan latex leggings

Top: Maïa by Ricchy; Left-to-right: Mary D Model, Katerina Piglet, Kay Morgan

 

Wet-look leggings or bottoms are already in vogue and have been for some time, usually made of faux leather (pleather, PU leather, etc.), nylon, polyester, spandex, vinyl or a combination thereof. Just take a look at the array of slick bottoms on offer from Topshop alone.

Consider latex as another option in this fashion movement, if slightly more avant-garde. This clear line which can be drawn from the wet-look mainstream fashion trend to latex leggings makes them less likely to raise eyebrows than, for example, an entire latex dress, and therefore a good opportunity to wear latex out and about in more regular settings.

 

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lara larsen latex leggings badm3l latex leggigns danisbodystyle - latex leggings

Top: blogger Nicky Alicia; Left-to-right: fetish model Lara Larsen, bloggers Badm3l and danisbodystyle 

 

We think mixing and matching items of latex with other fabrics and patterns is one of the classiest ways of introducing some latex into your everyday style, and latex leggings are ideal for this as they can be paired with most things for a variety of looks. Try contrasting the smooth and reflective leggings with textures that have the opposite effect, like soft furs, or with looser garments which contrast the skin tight latex look with something light and flowing.

 

Larum Photography2

rafaela_salvadori - BB45lkBzQIV nicoline hansen (2) latexperiment leggings blouse

Top: Larum Photography; Left-to-right: Actress Rafaela Salvadori, Nicoline Hansen Latex, Ankha Van Ayken by Latexperiment

 

Such is their versatility that depending on what they’re paired with they can be used for dressing up or down. The resulting image can be anything from casual, smart, chic, rock, or performance.

 

bella_isadora_official - casual latex leggings

Larum Photography alexandra potter Leonor Andrade

Top: model Bella Isadora; Left-to-right: Larum Photography, Alexandra Potter by Latexperiment, and Leonor Andrade performing for Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final 2015.

 

As ever, celebs can be relied on for spearheading latex trends thanks to their bold fashion statements…

 

kim kardashian atsuko kudo latex leggings

hayley williams by florian gilbon (6) Sophia_thomalla_intouch awards latex leggings paloma-faith-performs-in-latex-camden-roundhouse-may-2014_4

Top: Kim Kardashian in Atsuko Kudo; Left-to-right: Haley Williams performing with her group Paramore, Sophia Tomalla at the InTouch awards 2016, and Paloma Faith wearing William Wilde at Camden Roundhouse,

 

…and hot on their heels, the fashion bloggers…

 

annesfashionlove2

ricci tauscher latex leggings (3) ricci tauscher latex leggings (2) So Versailles

Top: blogger ‘annesfashionlove’ showing one of her lookbooks; Left-to-right: Ricci Tauscher demonstrating sporty and dressy looks courtesy of Simon O latex, and fashion blogger ‘So Verseilles’ inspired by Kim Kardashian in her choice of leggings; Bottom: vlogger Vanessa Pur showing off the AK leggings in motion

 

Where to buy latex leggings?

Latex leggings are such a staple that they can be bought from nearly every latex designer, from the biggest companies to the individual producer.

High fashion labels like Atsuko Kudo and William Wilde do their own latex leggings.

Fetish-fashion outfitters such as Libidex, Westward Bound, House of Harlot or Simon O also do leggings as par for the course. Simon O in particular are worth mentioning as something of a leggings specialist, offering a wide range of designs and styles which can be heavily customised with various options, zips, text applique and so on.

Smaller companies like Catalyst Latex and Signature Latex all have their own take on leggings. Catalyst Latex, for example, treat their latex in a process known as chlorination which alters the chemical structure of the rubber making them easier to slip into. Signature Latex offer various options on their leggings, like zips, attached feet, etc.

 

william wilde lolita leggings

alex_mueller-simon o latex leggings-b louisa_johnson_so-good_latex signature latex leggings

Top: William Wilde ‘Lolita leggings’; Left-to-right: Simon O, Louisa Johnson wearing House of Harlot lace-up leggings, Signature Latex

 

Hit up Etsy or DaWanda for a whole load of artisans producing tailored latex with care and passion from out of the home. Their latex is often competitively priced, the quality of the highest standard, and sometimes offers unique patterns, textures, etc.

 

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zorenko latex leggings nightshade_i_by_laura_sheridan-d6587qs LockstoffLatex leggings

Top: Miss Grey Latex; Left-to-right: Zorenko, Essential Latex, and Lockstoff Latex.

 

But trust me when I say this is just scratching the surface. There are hundreds of latex fashion designers and most of them probably do some form of leggings. If you really want to explore your options I recommend trying the Latex Search Engine. Select your region from the tabs, and explore.

And if you are new to latex, a final word of warning: latex, especially when skin tight like leggings, demands preparation and patience to dress comfortably. The video below, although in German, demonstrates this aspect of latex in a fun way. We think the results are more than worth the struggle, although we might be slightly biased.

 

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Hanger’s Season 7 collection

These images belong to the lookbook for Hanger‘s new ‘Season 7’ or ‘Spring Demon’ collection.

 

hanger season 7 latex (8)

 

The obvious Japanese influence which permeates the Hanger brand as a whole is brought to the fore here, with the demon motif and Japanese lettering. I especially like how the high-res images allow seeing the detail on the appliqué.

 

hanger season 7 latex (11)b

 

Hanger was one of the winners of the ASOS fashion discovery award. Do we dare imagine in the near future seeing images such as these on a mainstream internet fashion retailer?

What sticks out about Hanger is their emphasis on latex as an eco-friendly material. Being 100% natural, latex is sustainable and renewable, and more environmentally friendly than conventional cotton farming. As consumers become increasingly green-aware perhaps more latex designers will begin using this as an attractive selling point. Could it even be an additional factor which encourages the eco-conscious to give latex a try? The reasons to wear latex are mounting… not that we needed any excuses, of course.

 

hanger season 7 latex (0)b

hanger season 7 latex (1)b

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Amentium latex on dating show Take Me Out

Helen Teiman is the designer behind Liverpool based Amentium, distinctive for its detailed lasercut patterned latex clothing. She was also recently a contestant on the ITV dating show Take Me Out. The show is prime time weekend TV in the UK, and the perfect opportunity to gain some exposure for her fashion brand by dazzling in latex under the studio lights. In subsequent interviews, Helen has even admitted that she took part in the show solely for this reason, with the intent to avoid a date and step out in a different latex outfit each week while the series ran its course over 10 episodes.

 

 

At least, that was the gameplan. But two episodes in and she ended up dancing her way to a date with Ricardo in the clip above. Oops! Nevertheless, getting a date allowed Helen to show off her latex creations even more since she and Ricardo were whisked off to an island getaway and given plenty more screen time. In the video below Helen hits the clubs wearing one of her creations:

 

Perhaps the real success is that her unintended date with Ricardo has since developed into a relationship. Sometime later, the contestants reunited to update us on how things proceeded following their date, Helen again wearing another of her dresses:

 

Following her Take Me Out appearance, Helen has been afforded newspaper articles and interviews with the online and print editions of Liverpool Echo. The articles offer interesting insights into Amentium, such as Helen’s design inspirations and the possibility of a male clothing range on the horizon (Ricardo seems keen to be her first model!).

Good luck to Helen and the continued success of her brand.

Now let’s have a closer look at that outfit she wore in her dance off. Video courtesy of LatexfashionTV:

dead lotus couture little blonculus

“Little Blonculus” by Dead Lotus Couture

Dead Lotus Couture are one of those latex labels with a highly distinct aesthetic, distilled right down to the wonderful name itself.

In this promisingly named “Nange’s cabinet of curious critters EP01 – Little Blonculus” we get a good glimpse of the Dead Lotus Couture fusion of art, video, fantasy and sci-fi influences, coalescing into an aesthetic with a unique kind of latex fashion front and centre.

 

 

Looking forward to EP02!