Part II: An Interview with Catasta Charisma

This is the second part of our three part interview with Catasta Charisma.  One down. One to go.  All parts are great.  Keep reading.

Part I of this interview series can be found here


the dreamweaver - model miss fetlicious - photo peter czernich

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

CC: We live in a world in which markets are fetishised. By this I’m not actually referring to the fetish world but overall across all commodity markets. This is where products are marketed to be seen as having more value than what they are intrinsically worth, to be seen as more desirable, a must have to satiate the need instilled within them, that they must have this product to feel fulfilled in being themselves.

Of course the products don’t bring any satisfaction because that isn’t there purpose, their purpose is simply to be marketed as desirable so people will buy them. It isn’t  that people truly desire them but that they have been informed that they should desire them. Currently the markets focus more on women than men and it has nothing to do with sex or gender but rather that is where the energy is focused. I believe it began around the time of the suffragette movement in which the actions of women for attaining the right to vote led to a great deal of publicity that saw women, often for the first time, hitting the front page of newspapers. Women were big news, that is they sold newspapers. So, with the newly blossoming concepts of advertising working with the blossoming science of psychology men utilised the suffragette movement to get products into the papers.

Various suffragette rallies were actually male manipulated creations by advertisers so they would get into the newspapers with the newspapers naturally informed about these rabble-rousing antics by the same advertisers themselves. The rallies sponsored by commercial enterprises who would get their products into the hands of women under the claim that they not only had the right to say, for example, smoke but that such products through their use were a part of their liberation. Smoking equals female liberation so you need to smoke. Of course the tobacco companies just wanted to double the size of their market by fetishising smoking, by making it appear to have a greater value than its addiction, it was now glamorous, revolutionary, seditious, insubordinate and anarchic, so what women wanting to stick it to the male suppressors wouldn’t want to smoke? only the ones happy enough to accept their place at mens feet! Sales sky rocketed. The system worked so let’s keep on doing it and as women gained ever more greater independence, ever greater control over their lives, found freedom from the toils of hearth and home, became self-sufficient financially, then this was all to be exploited.

Men were also to be exploited of course but many male garment orientated markets were already well established if not entrenched and unmovable. To give an idea about this we can look to the male fashion market where men would, as the primary movers of trade and commerce and government demand the best garments of the day in the latest fashions and so we have many centuries worth of recorded statistics of male measurements from tailors but not for women who often behind the scenes had to make their own clothes. Markets then already existed for men who were out in the public eye but not for women who were hidden away more.

During the early 1800s the fashion for men changed and became more entrenched in rules of dress so it became less about being seen as leaders of fashion or following the latest trend and more about falling into the homogeneity that the rules of dress established. Men all began to look the same within the fields of their work and so their social status. This became a very difficult market to effect but by the end of the century with women now working in the factories and mills and wanting equality then hello, this was new, this could be exploited, we can get money from this.

So we have it today that women are catered for, exploited more, manipulated more by markets than men are. Men can feel a little left out but honestly they shouldn’t be for all it led too was women scrambling over one another in competitive hunger to out do one another to obtain the products they have been told they need in order to be seen as the most successful kind of woman possible.

So we have it that in the fashion industry around 90% of all products are orientated to the female market and this isn’t really any different for rubber garments except for one aspect of it. In the traditional rubber fetish wear men and women are just about equally catered for, it may even lean more towards men but more choice exists for females on the more fashionable side. For male to female cross-dressing the rubber wear market has always been larger than the conventional garment markets in that female gender orientated clothing has been made for the typically larger male frame. This is probably because much of rubber wear has been made by smaller manufacturers and because within the fetish world there not only exists a greater openness to be able to ask for such clothing but almost a tradition of catering for it has existed. For female to male cross-dressing I don’t believe this is specifically catered for at all. One of my own personal joys in making garments has been to work with Max Ryder, a drag king.

K&S: What is your favourite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?

CC: Lovely I can give a short answer!!! My favourite has always been the very first item I ever made which was a coat. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!

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

CC: Yep, there are lots of reasons people give for not liking rubber. Some concerns are unfounded and if they do truly want to wear rubber I can inform them where their misconception might have originated from but really if they are saying they simply don’t like the material then its not for me to convince them otherwise. However, if they are telling me that I shouldn’t wear rubber for the reasons you have given and more then I’ll also tell them that that isn’t their place and attempt to put them straight on their misconceptions. If they dislike the smell that is cool, I like it, if they dislike how it can make you sweat that is cool, I like how it can make me sweat, if they think it makes me look like I’m selling sex then cool too if that is the image I’m seeking to project.

When I use to make rubber garments in the shop I did so publicly. As the environment was very creative then the customers would be curious about what I was making. I would hand them the material to touch, they could even love what it was I was making. While they might never ever wear rubber this didn’t stop them from coming to appreciate it and came to see that it was as much a medium through which one could express ones self as the cotton fabrics I sold to them. Not only that but I would also point out that their reactions when coming to the shop were almost exactly the same as my own when entering a fetish shop – a wonder for the senses and the imagination.

trans warp - model chrissie seams - photo darkgrey

K&S: What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

CC: Wow, do I have a design philosophy? To stay away from commercial enterprises maybe, of thinking will this bring me money in but otherwise I don’t know. Sounds lame doesn’t it. Because I’ve been making things every day since a child I can’t even say what drives me creatively. I found from an early age that I could express myself visually better than I could through talking due to the speech impediment I had back then and I guess it became habit or I fell in love with what it opened up to me, the self awareness, how the brain perceives and makes sense of the world, how our understanding of the world is under constant manipulation. It is ever fascinating to me.

Maybe an aspect of what does drive me is the life long love I have had for fantasy and science-fiction, that is the power of the imagination to project beings and entities that either reveal our short comings or attempt to make up for them in some fantastical way. Originally we had gods, angles, demons and sprites, fairies and trolls, chimeras and dragons, then werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein monsters, then super heroes and villains. I think all these things over time have been a reflection of the means by which we make sense of ourselves and the world around us ever being more and more influenced by scientific illumination and a part of me believes that in the future we will use science to turn ourselves into becoming many and more of these fantastical life forms. I think through rubber I often delve into this world of imagination, of possibility, and visualise many an outfit as imbued with supernatural powers. I don’t believe my outfits have these powers of course but rather in my imagination I am giving the outfits a story, a meaning that helps maintain the coherency of their overall design.

When I design I have a mental map in my head, a kind of globe. In the centre of the globe is a naked human. As the human comes to the outside of the globe they don more garments. Around the equator of the globe I start at one point in which the garments are conventional. Travelling in one direction the attire begins to become more impersonal, starts to be associated with institutions larger than the individual so uniforms that reflect such institutions. Keep on going and the separation from the individual to the collective grows until humans become mechanised, synthetic in form and we are into cyborgs and androids. Keep going and we enter into robots and automatons until eventually all the original human has been stripped away and they are left as mere objects.

We are now the very opposite of being human, we are unfeeling, unthinking things. If we keep on moving around the equator however organic life begins to emerge again but it is so strange and unfamiliar and alien. Take a few more steps and that which is alien starts taking on more familiar characteristics and more bestial forms, animals, plants, and human hybrids of nature. Keep going and we have fantastical humanoids such as elves etc and eventually we return back to the individual human.

The pole to pole axis of the globe is about status, about levels of authority, about assertion of will, about domination and subjugation. We might best visualise this in the institutional form of clothing in which uniforms are both worn by prison guards and the prisoners.

Most garment design tends to occur in a very small wedge of this globe but as I have no plans for my garments to be commercialised and because I show off my work within the fetish community I have a freedom to fully explore this globe. Within the fetish community this entire globe is acceptable, it permits me an audience with whom I may share exploration into objectification, subjugation, transformation, all possibilities.

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

CC: I would like to say that I don’t have a preference but in practice that isn’t the case, I tend to create outfits that are all encasing from head to toe, have multiple layers to them, stripping away any of a persons true felt identity to give them a wholly new one which they then must explore and find for themselves through the limitations the outfit might impose on them in regard to sensory responsiveness, movement restriction and even restriction on breathing.

kachina doll - model luci fallen - photo mmaexx

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

CC: I am hoping to be working with another designer at some point this year (2019) in which I will be making some basic rubber garments to go with her everyday knitwear. I think the contrast between the heavier textured look of traditional knitting and crochet is just exquisite against the traditional smooth flawless look of garments made from rubber sheeting. The knitwear simply transforms our perception of rubber and knitted fibres with each enhancing the quality of the other.

For any of us who have worn rubber openly with other materials it is such a divine experience for its being worn as an everyday garment rather than isolated to its fetish confines, there is a kind of sense of self liberation through it and a sense that we just feel and look darn good. However, I don’t believe it would ever really catch on for anyone other than folks who already enjoy rubber but rather the rubber be replaced by a more agreeable and practical substitute such as a shine like surfaced lycra. But for anyone who does enjoy rubber and wishes to integrate it with everyday conventional garments one way they might try is wear their garments inside out.

Most good quality rubber garments are made in a sheeting that has a more matt like or satin like underside so when turned to face outwards no longer has the same associations as the more smooth and shiny side. It is less visually obvious as rubber and more seen as a kind of conventional fabric.

K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?

CC: My primary goal is to create a library of manuals on rubber garment making so that for the future there will exist out there all the information needed in regards to their production. To achieve this I have to keep on making garments to put many a theory at times to the test. For the last number of years I have concentrated a lot on shows and the making of garments for the assortment of models. I think I will soon be turning back and concentrating on myself and those friends willing to put up with something crazy I’ve envisioned for them.

K&S: What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer.

CC: My favourite part is often not knowing what I’m going to make, being happily surprised at the results and being challenged at times in their making.

K&S: What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general.

CC: Part of me wished I knew the answer to this and part of me is happy that I don’t because I know once I have reached the most imaginative realm of possibility, challenged myself to make in rubber all that I could possibly envision, then I wouldn’t make anything afterwards. It would be time to move onto something else then. But rubber has fascinated me since a child and forty odd years on it still does, it has always been a part of my life and I don’t ever see it leaving me. Both it and myself have evolved together and I have loved the relationship I have had with it even through the decades in which I kept it secret from the world.

One blue sky accomplishment I do hope to reach soon in my writing is the manual I’m currently working on. It is primarily about catsuits and could work out to be as nearly as long as the Compendium of Rubber Garment Making, so around 600 pages! This has been the manual I have been aiming for ever since first jotting down my first notes on making rubber garments. It will probably be the most in depth manual done so far. There will be nothing on the techniques of garment construction unless there is something that hasn’t been mentioned in the Compendium but solely concentrates on drafting patterns from the simpler and less well fitting styles of catsuits to the much more involved and best fitting types. I’m very excited about it and totally lost in my obsession in its writing and illustrating. There is still some considerable time, however, before it gets released because to go alongside the writing I also like to make many of the garments so there are also photographs. I say many because I can’t make them all as quite literally I provide instructions for producing hundreds of different styles.

K&S: Lets talk about your books. What motivated you to start creating such design guides?

CC: The manuals came about simply because I needed to record what I was learning as I made rubber garments and the patterns for them so I wouldn’t forget for the future. To begin with I use to make my garments by simply copying sections of pre-existing conventional material garments. This wasn’t enough so I taught myself pattern making. Pattern making manuals are of course orientated towards conventional fabrics and these are often fine with a few alterations for making looser fit rubber garments but not so much for skintight garments. Yes such manuals can cater for stretch materials but rubber is a very different kind of stretch material, often not so forgiving on the short cuts that conventional pattern making instructions provide and I needed to understand why. So the manuals began just for myself.

dusty ryder - model max ryder drag king - photo peter czernich

K&S: As a person interested in latex, I find it frustrating on some levels to search for clothes. There is not a store that one can go into locally to try stuff on. The design choices may be limited with respect to what you can find. Sizing is a problem. As such, the thought of making one’s own clothes is extremely appealing. How difficult is it for one to go from a wearer of latex to a maker of latex?

CC: If one already has a background in making anything; assembling car engines, playing music, building brick walls, gardening, decorating, whatever then you already have an advantage. You already recognise that to achieve the result you are after there are tools and equipment and materials that one has to become familiar with in order to get the best out of them and that this may take time and patience and practice. One also recognises that the vision of what one wants to make need not be the reality that is attained for the materials may not exist, may be too costly, that certain aspects of the vision aren’t practical and need to be adapted. One also recognises that preparation can be involved, planning, organisation, focus. One also recognises that there may also be a number of steps involved before the final product is realised. If you don’t have any experience in making anything I’d say that you just haven’t recognised that you have, businesses don’t appear from nowhere and neither do babies!!!

If one has also been a wearer of rubber garments this is also a great advantage if one turns to making them as you will already have a surprising amount of knowledge that is untapped. You will already know, consciously or not, about the typical widths of seams, where they can be placed, that they are made differently to sewn fabric clothes, how compressive a skintight garment might feel in a particular thickness of rubber, that there can be questionable areas such as armpits that might cause you to stumble more when you do come to learn how to make things than other areas of the body.

One of my biggest problems is that I don’t like to be told how to do something, I prefer to do the research myself and often find out more than what I need at the time. When I was at school I also had a fantastic art teacher whose method of teaching was that we should experiment for only in this way could we learn about the potential and the limitations of the various mediums, tools and materials we had at our disposal. And that is very much how I learn things. A little knowledge and a great deal of trial and error. However, I recognise that many people prefer to be told what to do, they just want to be told how to make the shirt, they just want to be provided with the steps necessary to get them from A to Z.

You also have to ask yourself what is it you want. Do you want to learn how to make rubber garments or do you just want to make rubber garments because these are two very different things. If you want to learn then this means you will have to learn about how to record the vision you have for a garment or outfit, that is design, how to take measurements, how to draft patterns and adapt and alter them in many ways, understand more about what can be achieved with rubber and so understanding more about its dynamics, about stretch tensions and learn a considerable amount more about construction. If you just want to make rubber garments then you are interested in simply selecting a type of standard garment that has a pattern already made for you to follow.

The manuals I produce fall very much within the first category but there are a number of books by other authors that address the second category and most of us also participate in rubber garment making forums to help answer peoples questions on sources for materials and equipment and techniques etc. Through these forums on such places as Fetlife you can also find links to many free patterns.

An actual good starting point for anyone wanting to try their hand at rubber garment making is not to actually start with making a garment. If you already have a garment that has seen the best of days, might be stained, might be torn on the edges, might have lost its shine, might simply no longer like, then have a go at giving it new life. Either one can repurpose the garment by turning it into another type, one could simply want to repair it, or one may want to add decoration to its surface, whatever. You have little to lose in doing this but it can help you get a sense of whether you have a feel for working with rubber, with cutting and gluing it etc, becoming familiar with new tools and processes of working.

Oh and start small, don’t start with a hood or a catsuit. That is a bit like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. You will sink. Start with simple projects that may only be accessories for garments but which again allow you to familiarise yourself with the tools and materials. And keep a look out for anyone offering workshops near you or simply contact a person and ask if they do workshops. People regularly contact me for just that and if I have time I’ll spend the day with them and help them make the leggings or shirt etc. they are after.

Irrespective of ones amount of knowledge and experience in making rubber garments the biggest problem to overcome in learning anything, in making anything, in showing something new, is confidence, both a lack of it and an excess of it. Too much confidence and you don’t believe their is anything you can be taught, you know it all, you know better than others and you can often be delusional about what you know and the work you produce. To little confidence and you don’t believe you could ever learn something new, let alone actually make something that can be worn and shown off. I want people to be creative, I believe it is hugely beneficial in peoples lives for numerous reasons, and so I have concentrated more on people with a lack of confidence than those with too much. Much of the time it is about convincing people to be less judgemental about themselves and not to care so much about other people judging them. About seeing what mistakes truly are that yes, at this point with what the person wants to achieve they haven’t attained the result they desire and so this shouldn’t put them off but drive them forwards to improve if they feel this is necessary, and that just comes down to practice of which the biggest thing to practice is self-patience but also, that the thing they view as a mistake is also an opportunity to recognise a potentially new application for attaining a result they may desire in the future. To first lead a creative life you first have to lose the fear of doing wrong.

And one last thing. Just because someone might not have any experience with working with rubber this does not mean they won’t become the best at it but no-one knows this until they try. Never deny yourself the opportunity to discover something surprising about yourself.

TO BE CONCLUDED

Catasta Charisma (Heath Clark)

Nottinghamshire, England

website – catastacharisma.weebly.com

Facebook – facebook.com/catastasecrets/

Facebook – facebook.com/catastacreation/

Facebook – facebook.com/exxesslatex/

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Part I: An Interview with Catasta Charisma

You may have come across the name “Catasta Charisma” in your search for Latex fashion information on the internet.  Our own search discovered the name when we found a link to tutorials on how to create one’s one latex garments.  To say the guides were detailed was an understatement – The content was outstanding.  Suddenly the possibility of creating one’s own latex outfits was a glimmering possibility.

More research into the name and more creations come to the surface.  When we inquired about an interview for our series, we were expecting interesting answer.  What we received was such a detailed narrative that we couldn’t stop reading and reading the answers.  We’d venture to say that most of the “latex thoughts” that a latex afficiando has are touched on at one point or another.

Since the answers were so extensive, we’re breaking the interview into three parts just to make the reading experience somewhat manageable.  We hope you enjoy.  We certainly did.


Kyle and Selina (K&S): Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

Catasta Charisma (CC): I began to make rubber garments around nine years ago. Initially it was just for myself, accessories to or adaptations of garments already bought from other manufacturers. Over time I began to concentrate on much grander themed outfits involving multiple garments. Various fetish event organizers and friends encouraged me to show off my work and I use to do quick change one man shows. I then met ExxEss Latex from the U.S. at the Montreal Fetish Weekend and started working in collaboration with them. With ExxEss I began to make garments that weren’t just for myself but for anywhere up to 24 models at a time and involving hundreds of garments per show. The shows took me to multiple fetish events per year, some small and some large and with each show I and my friends from ExxEss would reveal something different.

working in my studio
Catasta Charisma working in his Studio

K&S: 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?

CC: I have had an interest in rubber since a child but I didn’t get to wear my first garments until the age of 21. My interest really began around the age of 6 with discovering my mothers drawer of nylons and I became fascinated by the materials stretch quality and its capacity to transform how the world around me was sensed and how it could effect my own appearance.

Gradually my tastes grew to include most stretch types of materials of which one was rubber. Rubber was always elusive, it wasn’t as if one could easily lay hands on garments made from rubber other than swim caps or old Second World War gas masks so it wasn’t until I got to university and could travel more to the shops that sold fetish wear that I truly got to experience it. I’ve now been wearing rubber for some 27 years and it still fascinates me.

I think before continuing I should provide some clarity as to why I use the word rubber instead of latex. Latex is a liquid found in many thousands of plants that is thought to help regulate its temperature as well as provide protection against bugs if the surface of the plant is damaged, oozing out and sealing the wound, potentially trapping the critters and making the plant taste very bitter. Depending on the plant from which the latex is gathered it forms various products such as chewing gum, opium and of course rubber.

The rubber from which rubber garments are made comes from the Rubber Tree, Hevea Brasiliensis. The tress are cut, the latex collected, formic acid added to speed up the coagulation that separates the rubber from the latex into a solid form. The rubber is then sent to manufacturers who put it through various processes to help stabilize the product. In regards to fashion the form which rubber takes is in sheeting which comes in various thicknesses. That’s it very crudely put. So I distinguish a difference between latex and rubber because I use both in my work, I use it both in its solid form of rubber as well as in its liquid form as latex and by maintaining a distinction between the two it helps when writing the manuals on rubber garment making and crafting such as for example, using latex for producing moulded items, or as a paint or even making ones own sheeting.

I’m not too sure when we began to use the two words more freely, interchanging rubber for latex but currently it seems that latex has almost replaced the word rubber and now refers to any material that resembles in appearance sheet rubber so a shiny surfaced lycra or even a soft leather can be referred to as latex.

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

CC: Before deciding to become a rubber garment designer I owned a shop that sold cotton fabrics for sewing. I began to have thoughts about changing what I did in life around six years ago. I had set up a work shop area within the shop where I could craft with rubber in between serving customers. I found I was making more and more rubber garments, that they were taking up more and more of my time so it seemed there was a gravitational pull towards wanting to work more with rubber than there was working in the shop and so three years ago I made the decision to let it go, sell everything off and with the proceeds build myself a studio.

K&S: 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?

CC: One thing people can find perplexing is that I don’t make garments to sell, it is also a very rare thing for me to accept commissions. I have no interest in such things. I made and sold items (not made from rubber) for 18 years in my shop and even longer when one also accounts for my career as an artist and frankly it’s boring.

While it is entirely feasible to make a profit making rubber wear I have no interest in doing so. I use to represent at one time around 55 different artists and crafts people of which very few made a living from it. They treated their art/craft as a hobby and derived great joy from it, sold their goods through me and were happy for having extra cash in their pockets. A handful did make a living from selling their goods. Either they had really keyed into a fashionable market or they were selling their goods through multiple shops. In both cases they would have to step up production and turn something that was a passion into a factory process.

Some were okay with this, it suited their demeanor but for others they came to hate that which they once loved, they never wanted a job in a factory and yet here they were setting up their own small version of one. That is not my intention for my life. Rather I intend to make enough money to pay the bills life throws my way through the manuals I write on how to make rubber garments.

One big aspect of the job I did in the shop was to demonstrate to customers how to make things, how to make a patchwork quilt, how to make a shirt, even how to make some things that I had no experience of making and how to interpret other designers instructions and patterns.

I loved this, it suited me as a person who is constantly fascinated with how to make things and sharing with others what I learn. The many years of daily reinterpreting and teaching gave me the background to be able to write the manuals. My background as an artist also helps for illustrating them and of course, many of the garments I make for shows provide the photographs.

While the world of rubber is a large market it is of course very small in comparison with many other things, it gets incredibly small once you isolate in that rubber world who would like to make their own rubber wear but as there is only a very few people who share their knowledge one can make a small living from doing so. A small market but with barely any competition.

I work with ExxEss Latex to help produce some outlandish outfits to show the world what is possible in rubber, this pushes me to constantly innovate what can be done, this pushes me to understand better how I am doing this and learn how I may convey to others how to realise ones wildest dreams.

the galactic empress - model madieanne comandeur - photo luis rocha dos reisjpg
Model Madieanne Comandeur – photo Luis Rocha dos Reis

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

CC: I have no preference for how others refer to rubber garments. The association of what the material means to everyone is different. It will never be a conventional material used to make everyday garments, it is simply too impractical a material without getting some serious tech involved to modify its negative qualities (negative in the sense of what aspects of its nature prevent it from becoming a conventional fabric), and while serious tech is getting involved it does, however, turn the material into a different kind that does not have the same appeal to people who enjoy it. You want the material to be conventional then the material must change, you want the material to remain unchanged then it will never be conventional. And, if it ever did become a conventional fabric then I think it would loose its attraction as alternative fashion.

Alternative fashion is seen as attractive because of its taboo associations. In itself it doesn’t have any taboo qualities but rather it inherits them from people who do have a genuine fetish for rubber, people who have often felt ostracised for liking the material, people who may at some stage have felt shame for wearing it, or even just an attraction to it.

Rubber as an alternative fashion isn’t always bought by people who have a fetish for it but rather seek to be associated with having a fetish, they have a fetish for being seen to have one, for being seen to possibly have a “dark side”, for being seen as not being part of the herd despite the wearing of rubber simply associating them to another herd. And there is nothing wrong with this.

They may have no real concept of what it actually means to live with a fetish and possibly a taboo but that’s fine, that’s cool, I have no real concept of what it feels like to wear rubber and not have a fetish for it. I guess in some ways those who don’t have a fetish seek its association with darkness while for myself as a fetishist who has spent too long immersed in its dark, negative world, often seek in my designs to make it more acceptable, to make it more associated with the light it has also brought into my world, that it has also helped me to experience the world in different ways unimaginable and to establish new forms of expression, that it’s a medium through which I discover myself.

Perhaps then rubber for me is about learning about my light side after discovering that to wear rubber was dark, was wrong, while for others they seek to learn more about the darkness because life has been too bright. I should really make guesses here. We are all on the same trip of self-discovery anyway, learning about our dualistic qualities, trying to find a balance.

I honestly have no idea what it should be called if it actually needs a name, yes it is fashion, it reveals an aspect of our current cultural meme, its alternative because it uses an unconventional material, it’s kinky because rubber can be associated with sex although that is more a stereotype and, it can be a fetish because it can have an attraction to some people that goes far beyond it simply just being used as clothing. To me it’s just rubber wear, it is rubber we wear, everything else is just what it can be associated with.

the runaway - model princess almighty - photo luis rocha dos reis - for exxess latex - at avantgardista
Model Princess Almighty – photo Luis Rocha dos Reis – for ExxEss Latex – at Avantgardista

K&S: In browsing your creations on your facebook page it is obvious that  you truly create outfits which are not reproductions of everyday normal clothes.  What drives this creation. Where do you envision people enjoying such outfits?

CC: I began to make more outlandish rubber wear when I got bored with what I could buy from manufacturers. Initially I wanted to take rubber out of the bedroom or dungeon, I wanted to go to events and walk out in public and as such I didn’t want to go in my skintight equivalent of pyjamas, a classic black catsuit for example, but rather in my Sunday best, in something head turning. To show myself off, to own the rubber, to wow folk and be proud.

No matter how much I mixed and matched garments from other companies none of them could attain the vision I desired. I began to design my own outfits and have other manufacturers make them up for me but not only can this get expensive but one is also limited in that one can’t change what is being made half way through the making as its out of ones own hands. The garments I came to make often can be your classical normal clothing, they can also be your classical fetish clothing, they are often a combination of both or an extrapolation upon both.

I never envisage where people might wear anything I make because I never intend to sell anything I make and really, where people go in their clothing and what they do in it is their business, if they want to be dressed as an inflatable teddy bear and go down to the supermarket that is up to them, in fact I’d pay to see that! So I don’t think about such things. When I make the items I do it is about showing others what is possible, to knock their socks off at times, to make them laugh, to scare them, to excite them and much of my creativity is driven by a perception  of not how I see people wearing such items but how in some future we would desire to actually become entities that might partially resemble what I make, to be able to genetically modify the housing of our consciousness to resemble a giant teddy bear or whatever!

K&S: Do you find any interest in what I’ll call “plain” latex fashion? That is latex clothing that a person can confidently wear out in public without screaming “kinky” or “weird”?

CC: There is room in this world for all uses of rubber garments. One just needs to check out my own wardrobe. I will dress in the most conservative of fetish wear, I will dress in what looks like everyday conventional garb, I will dress to the nines in some flamboyant pantomime affair, I will totally transform every aspect of my physique to disguise its identity and transform it into an alternative form. I have a fetish for rubber and it doesn’t matter to me what form it takes.

K&S: 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?

CC: Rubber can be used from its lightest, gossamer thin and billowy loose form to its heaviest, thickest and most body compressing form just as any other material that has the capacity to stretch. Rubber neither suits one type of clothing better than another.

There are four different categories of what we refer to as skintight garments; form fitting, cling fitting, action fitting and power fitting. The first describes garments that have few wrinkles and a minimal amount of stretch required for the wearer to be accommodated within the garment. Barely any pressure is put on the body by the garment as it contours around it and no mobility is impeded. In the second type the rubber clings to the bodies curves rather than simply accommodating them and accentuates its natural shape although there isn’t any significant compression.

With action fit the rubber grips the body and requires better cutting to produce better shaping around the more prominent aspects of the body to prevent them from being distorted. There can be significant streamlining to the softer parts of the flesh.

With power fit the compression increases either in full or just in part upon an action fit garment and again, to both avoid body distortion and to improve movement the degree of knowledge required to cut the garment increases.

For any skintight garment then it can be experienced in various degrees of compression and fit and through a large range of different thicknesses of rubber sheeting. How a skintight garment looks and feels then is dependent on these various things so some garments can be made from a thin rubber and have a certain degree of compression which for anyone who doesn’t want to show off their cellulite is a mistake as such rubber will adhere to its undulating nature but that same garment in a thicker material but without necessarily being more compressive will see their cellulite smoothed down.

This is true for anything worn under such garments from extra clothing to body jewellery. It will depend somewhat on the garments worn underneath, how thick they are, even how compressive they are as to the degree to which they are seen embossed on the surface of the rubber. One can always have garments in which rubber underwear is worn if necessary or even underwear built into the garment. However, most skintight garments have no need for anyone to wear underwear unless it is out of fear that the garment might tear itself apart under the stresses of its stretching but this shouldn’t happen if the garment is well made and cared for.

hexus - model myself - photo john turner
Model Catasta Charisma – photo John Turner

K&S: 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 shape-wear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws.”

CC: Let’s assume we have never worn clothing before and think of our body as a blank canvas. What are we going to paint on that canvas? This is a very difficult because really what I am saying here is how are we going to transform the perceived identity of the blank canvas into something else.

Go to any gallery and all those countless thousands of paintings all began life the same, as blank canvasses. As soon as we daub something upon that canvas it becomes something different. But what will our daub be? What will that daub say about us? To answer this we need to know what it is we want to say, in other words, dressing ourselves is an art form, a process of deliberated decision making that leads to an overall expression and just like any art form it does not work well when free but requires to be confined, requires boundaries within which our decisions can be made.

A starting point in establishing these boundaries is the canvas itself, it’s shape and surface, our bodies, our objective observations and subjective perceptions of it, so, the canvas itself can influence us. We look upon it and make decisions that we want it to appear larger or smaller for instance, we want to project to the world that the canvas they are seeing is not what it actually is, that the canvas in of itself is not everything that we are. It isn’t always the case that we are unhappy with the canvas though, with its shape but rather that the blankness we feel it projects just doesn’t say everything that is behind the canvas. It doesn’t project the ever fluctuating, evolving and flexible nature of the multitudinous aspects of our identity. Identity then becomes one of the boundaries for our decision making because what aspect of our identity then are we going to project, what will be the painting that best reflects how we feel about ourselves today.

If we are aware enough to be able to recognise what it is we want to project, to say about ourselves, we then have to make decisions on how we are going to create this expression. Here we can be confronted with many new boundaries upon our decision making processes in regards to materials and colours and patterns etc and that not all that we envision as the things required for our expression are available to us, that the garment simply does not exist, that the fabric we want is too expensive, that the specific colour is unavailable and this leads us to modify, to compromise on the vision we have so that any eventual painting isn’t just a reflection of what we want to say but is also in part a reflection of what is able to be said at any given time.

Okay then, dressing ourselves is the simplest thing in the world, we grab what we need for the day for the sake of modesty and sling it on but it can also be a very complex process of decision making of which ones perception of their body image is just one influence.

I wouldn’t say rubber nor any other kind of material hinders our decision making. I think once we opt for any specific material such as rubber to become the prime fabric of our dressing then it  becomes one of the boundaries that will help to establish the form of the identity we wish to project or/and feel privately within because we recognize that wearing rubber is saying something about us. Also what we can do with rubber allows for certain forms of expression in how it can be manipulated that other materials cannot achieve just as other materials can be manipulated in ways that rubber can’t. Each type of material both frees and limits us in what we are able to say.

I guess what I’m also saying here is that when we dress we aren’t just dressing our physical form, our body, that that is actually the least of what we are doing. If we wanted to solely express our body with honesty then we wouldn’t wear any clothing irrespective of the material they might be made from but truthfully I don’t think it has anything to do with honesty.

Our bodies are what they are while honesty is a concept dependent on current trends as to an ideal standard in which aspects of our body are flawed today but seen tomorrow as perfect. It is based on what we feel we are being told we should be comparing ourselves to. Of course we utilise clothing to mask and reveal aspects of our body but it has nothing to do with the body at the end of the day but about everything we feel within about our bodies and this is often influenced by the current form of the culture we are born within or come to inherit, whether we want to embrace what our culture is informing us as the ideal or question it. And if we question it then in all honesty we may wish to embrace our supposed flaws and show them as anything but.

At this point rubber is one of the materials that can come into play, not just because of what it can do as a material but, how it is perceived within our culture, how people perceive it as an unconventional fabric that kind of forces people to have a reaction to it and question what is right and wrong in what they are seeing. Because of its capacity to be a second skin (it is a skin, a film) and can be perceived not just as an extension of the body but of the body itself, as its actual skin, it’s not always about exploiting it to manifest what is currently held to be the ideal body form but also about exploiting it to manifest the very opposite and celebrate ones body for being so deviant from the ideal. I think many of us who wear rubber, who explore who we are through it, often project the dualistic qualities of both wishing to celebrate those parts that are unique to us as well as those parts that suit the cultural ideal and that is one of the fascinating things about rubber that it can actually do both simultaneously.

TO BE CONTINUED ………………………

For more information see the following:

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Q&A with Latex Designer Miss Fuzzy Bunny of Essential Latex

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Kyle and Selina (K&S): Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

Heidi aka Miss Fuzzy Bunny (MFB): I was a fashion design student in the early ‘80’s in Boston, Massachusetts. I dropped out without a degree, but learned the basics of pattern design and construction, but never used it professionally. I sewed lots of my own clothes throughout the ’80’s, then pretty much lost interest in the whole thing.

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

MFB:: I was introduced to latex in 1987, and loved the tightness and how empowering it felt to wear. I never dreamed back then that I could actually make my own stuff, but in 2003 I met a Danish man who was making clothes with his friends and had a small label, NPNG, No Pain No Gain, and somehow the basics of fashion design kind of came back to me as I experimented and learned how to cut and glue latex.

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

MFB: Probably then, as I helped them with things such as fashion shows, and did the occasional order, and tried answering their customer emails, which were low on the priority list for the other 3. Then as I was contemplating a divorce and a move from Denmark around 2010, I started an Etsy store and started selling basics there and at the fetish shop, Latexa, where I worked.

K&S: 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?

MFB: Custom projects definitely absorbed more of my time and always took much longer than envisioned. In terms of hours worked, they ended up not really profitable for me.

What ultimately dimmed my passion was in 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, while unemployed, and 1 month early being thrown out of my home by my husband. During treatment I had to ramp up the Etsy store, and many people came forward to order things from me as they knew of my struggle.

But once I had finished treatment in the ensuing years I experienced a lot of fear and paranoia about the carcinogenic properties of the glue and thinners, which really dimmed my passion and made it tough to get to the work table.

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

MFB: Clothing would be my preference. And of course latex is also a fetish.

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K&S: 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?

MFB: It’s awesome either way when done right.

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

MFB: Not in my book, as an older woman who needs all the support she can get! It’s intimidating when others try to dictate to what’s true latex fetishism and what’s cheating. I know it prevents women from trying it when they’re told undergarments are a no-no, as I’ve seen it at the shop where I worked, and in the latex forums, of course.

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

MFB: Tough question, I’ve seen both sides. For a lot of men, body image has nothing to do with wearing it because it’s a private fetish in the home. The body issue fears usually arise when people are going to a party, and worry that it’s not flattering. But there are also plenty of people in the scene who embrace the material and make real efforts to wear it regardless of their size.

K&S: Do you feel latex tend 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.”

MFB: That depends entirely on the garment chosen. If it’s an out of the box molded dress, it won’t eliminate body flaws or enhance a body unless the wearer has implants. If it’s a made to measure garment crafted by somebody who knows how to work with latex, it can definitely work as shapewear.

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

MFB:: There’s really not a lot of celebrity couture when you factor in every order I’ve done. For me orders leaned more toward women and cross dressers on Etsy, but that probably had a lot to do with my store and what garments I offered. Most of my custom work has always been for male clients.

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

MFB: Probably some of the collaborative projects I did with my friend who has enormous style and always pushes the boundaries between fashionable male latex and fetish.

Two of the things I made were Macintoshes, one in black and one  transparent, with a much greater level of detail than on the standard ones sold for men. There were D-rings below the belt loops, as is standard, real pockets, button holes, double collars. His Mao jacket was also heavy on detail,  with an adjustable back belt, inner breast pocket, large pockets below, and modeled after a Pretty Green jacket, so the lines were more contemporary.

Likewise with casual shorts with inner buttons  at the waist, deep side pockets and inner back pockets. The jeans were probably the coolest item simply because of the button fly, updated shaping, and full details.

Many of these can be seen on his fetlife profile although his newer outfits are more fantasy styles with lots of advanced detailing, and were made by a local woman in Copenhagen, Nicolina.

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

MFB: Try to show them examples of people enjoying the clothing. Often just trying it on eliminates these former concerns. Seeing is believing.

K&S: What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

MFB: I don’t really design these days. I liked making latex that wasn’t too corny or cheesy, or excessively designed with far too many design elements going on in one garment. Restraint and elegance I suppose would have been my philosophy.

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

MFB: More….  such as ’50’s style dresses, or long sleeved blouses.

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

MFB: I’d wear leggings with a sweater or tunic, perhaps, or a blouse in conventional fabric with a late pencil skirt or wide legged latex trousers. My jabot blouse in .25 gauge latex was always a nice public touch, because one normally doesn’t associate gathers with latex.

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K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?

MFB: I’ve stopped doing latex, mainly because I lack the passion to work as hard at it as I know I would need to in order to be successful.

K&S: What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

MFB: I loved making things which enhanced the beauty of my customers and made them happy.

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

MFB: I would have loved to achieve more prominence and worked with more
celebrities, but I don’t think I ever had the drive or creativity, to be honest.

K&S:  Latex fashion seems to be a small subset of the fetish world.  It rarely has it’s own forum and must latch onto other fetish and BDSM events.  If you not into BDSM or “play parties” it can seem a rather lonely interest.  What are your  thoughts on being able to showcase latex interest without having to participate in the fetish/BDSM “scene” ?

MFB: I think it used to be much easier when there were more events like Rubber Cult, and when there were bigger headline events and balls where people would travel. Lately the latter seem to have died down somewhat. The best part of these events has always been to mix and meet people from online, and add them to my worldwide group of friends. Play never had
much of a priority, to be honest, as one can play anywhere. Finding the
right venue and mix of people, however, is harder.

K&S: You note that most of your custom work was for male clients.  You
also note that properly tailored latex is a must.  So what kind of out fits did you create?  James Bond in latex or Rue Paul in latex?

MFB: Mostly James Bond was what my clients wanted, or simply put: casual styles in modern cuts, such as lower waisted jeans, as opposed to high waist jeans with much too wide legs, which other manufacturers stick too, and end
up looking very dated.

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K&S: 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 thru 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 a style 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?

HP: I think it depends on the context. People can be very conservative and yes, anything different can be objectionable. If the wearer acts confident it tends to be easier to get away with latex in public.

Wearing latex to the office is probably not appropriate, unless you work in an art gallery or something.

Men’s latex in public needn’t be more extreme than a woman’s choices, it depends on the garment. I am very opposed to wearing anything overtly sexual or revealing in a public arena simply because of the issues of consent. It’s impolite to impose a penis sheathed catsuit or leggings on the unsuspecting. A latex t-shirt, on the other hand, should be just fine.

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

HP: Absolutely! I am also a strong believer in properly tailored menswear.

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K&S: Is there anything you would like to add?

MFB: Follow the forums and be open to new ideas and new talent, from models to designers. It’s so sad to me to see people in the forums who still site models who are by now inactive, or list blogs which have long since stopped updating, while overlooking the newcomers and what they offer.  Also, don’t take yourself too seriously, or fall down the rabbit hole and let latex consume you.

K&S: Thank you.


More information on EssentialLatex:

Web Site for Essential Latex

Essential Latex on Facebook

Q&A with LatexFashion TV’s Cole Black

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Kyle & Selina: Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion? Who are you, what’s your background and how did LatexFashionTV come to be?

LatexFashionTV (LFTV): My name is Cole Black and my background is in media and video production. I don’t have any formal training in fashion but l work with brilliant people who do. LatexFashionTV came about through a love of film making and fetish fashion.

K&S: How did you discover latex and fetish fashion as a focal point for your video work?  Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

LFTV: I discovered latex with Batman Returns and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. I knew there was something special about her outfit and seeing shiny outfits on Top of the Pops or late night shows like Eurotrash and Sexcetera would always catch my eye. It seems crazy now but there was no internet back then. So it was kind of a building curiosity. You couldn’t type ‘latex’ into google and bring up thousands of images and videos like today.

K&S: At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?  Is it a vocation or just a personal side project?

LFTV: It started as a side project but takes up half my time now. I discovered the fetish scene in the mid naughties. Seeing people in person wearing amazing outfits that were so visually arresting, I knew working with latex would be fantastic to film and I’ve been shooting it ever since.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S:Since you’re constantly interacting with various aspects of the latex scene, how would you describe “the market” from a business perspective. Are people in the industry predominately focused on “sex & fetish” or is it an alternative fashion material?

LFTV: I’d say it’s both. Most designers have some outfits leaning toward fetish and others toward fashion. There are classic fetish style outfits that will always be popular in the fetish scene while celebrities wear stylish latex dresses for fashion and cosplayers slide into catsuits for the latest comic con. For them It’s an alternative fashion material that’s fun to wear.

K&S:Latex can be described as a “Fetish,” a “Kink,” “Alternative fashion” or simply “fashion” Do you prefer one description over another?  Why?

  LFTV: It can be all things to all people or something very singular. Latex will probably always have connotations of being naughty, just like thigh high boots, It’s out of the ordinary, that’s what makes it fun. I guess I think of it as alternative fashion. Lubing up to go to the shops to get a pint of milk isn’t something everyone would do.

K&S:  Latex seems to be a small subset of things fetish.  It can also exist without things fetish as pure fashion.  In fact one can argue that “fetish” and the association with sex and/or pornography detracts from the fashion aspect.  It becomes fashion for “porn stars” not fashion for regular people.  So.. Fashion or fetish?  What side do you want to promote in your films?

LFTV: The theme of LFTV is promoting latex clothing wherever that takes us. We can be front row at a fashion show one episode then demonstrate a vac-cube at a fetish club the next. But it’s a fine line to walk to keep everything in balance and we hopefully do it in a fun, friendly way that doesn’t lean too heavily in one direction for long.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S: Following that topic, the majority of your subjects are women. Are there plans to do any pieces on “straight” men’s fashion?  What opportunities would that provide?  Are there any stigmas you could break with such a piece?

LFTV: Co-incidentally, as I write this our last two episodes are Men’s latex fashion shows. We try to cover the scene as we find it and it’s mostly women wearing latex fashion. That’s reflected in everything from the types of outfits for sale to the models in fashion shows. Guys certainly wear latex too but mostly in Fetish clubs and very few actually want to be on camera in my experience.

K&S: How about a piece focusing on a crossdresser?  Are there any stigmas you could break with such a piece?

LFTV: We’ve featured fashion shows with crossdresser’s before. Our focus is always going to be predominantly women’s fashion because that’s where my interest is. But never say never.

K&S: It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. We’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?

LFTV: Absolutely. One of my favorite things about latex is how skin-tight it is. I personally love outfits that are unashamedly rubber. But there are some incredible loose fitting latex outfits too. I was once shooting in Piccadilly Circus in London with Rebecca from Yummy Gummy wearing a latex dress with a loose skirt and families came up to take selfies with her. That’s a perfect example of latex being seen as fun. They probably didn’t even register it as latex, It was just a cool shiny outfit.

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Photo: Cole Black

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

LFTV: I’d guess it’s predominantly Women with celebrity couture the smallest market. There are only so many celebrities.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S:  What is your favorite piece of latex fashion that you’ve had the opportunity to film? 

LFTV: That’s so tough. I do love a classic catsuit or latex leggings. My favourite thing probably changes with whatever I’ve filmed recently. I’m working on a motorbike film right now with an incredible latex biker catsuit.

K&S:  It seems London and Berlin get all the latex events.  A cosmopolitan city like New York has nothing.  How come? Which event has been the most fun to film and why?

LFTV:  We’re lucky in the UK that London is kept busy with latex events. Other places both in the uk and around the world have latex events. In fact the biggest collection of latex catwalks was in Manchester at Sexhibition. New York has its own ‘the Baroness’ who as well as being a legendary latex designer I think holds regular latex events in NY? I’ve yet to travel to the states to shoot latex but would love to in the future.

K&S:  In viewing the LatexFashionTV Youtube page, we notice that most of your pieces are in the 5 to 10 minute range in length.  Do you have plans to create a longer, documentary style piece?  With the range of access you have, it would seem you can take a deep dive into topics centred on an event, a designer, or one of your “challenge” concepts.

LFTV:  I’m a fan of shorter content so always aim for around five minutes give or take. There are plans for longer pieces, one following models shooting abroad, another is a deep dive into a designer. I did just shoot a pilot for a longer show format that worked pretty well and plan to develop further.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S:  On that note, I’m sure it would be interesting for our reader to have a better understanding on the effort involved in putting your pieces together.  The videos don’t jump straight from the camera to Youtube.  Editing of both the video and the audio tracks is required. What’s really involved?

LFTV:  For anyone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of film making it can be pretty involved. I think of it as putting together a massive jigsaw… and you’re also making the pieces you’re going to need to put the jigsaw together as you go along.

It starts with the idea. Then I make notes about what I want to shoot. Planning what equipment I’ll need and outfits for the models to wear. An outfit for me to wear if it’s a club with say, an all rubber dress code.

Then there’s the actual filming itself which usually involves traveling. Shooting means making sure everything is shiny and perfect. Making sure everything is lit. That the sound is recorded properly. Back at the edit suite the footage gets copied off the cameras, backed up on two separate hard drives and again in the cloud. I’ve been shooting latex for over a decade and my main archive is pretty big.

Then I’ll start editing and organizing the footage. For a lot of films I have a certain style in mind so I’ll start dropping the footage I need on a timeline and putting it in order. Then there’s choosing music. We license a lot of tracks from music libraries. Sometime finding the right music track can take longer than editing.

Editing from start to finish can take anything from a few hours to a few days. Right now I have around 30 films in production. Some waiting to be published. Some in various stages of editing. So it gets a bit crazy.

K&S: What drives your creativity for your video pieces?

LFTV:  Anything that seems likes it’s going to be fun. Something I haven’t done before or something familiar with a new twist.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S: Less or More?  You’ve had the opportunity to film all sorts of outfits and costumes. What pops out more on film – the skimpy, the full enclosure or the couture?

LFTV:  Anything colorful is great on camera. Filming a black outfit in a dark club can be difficult. I personally love outfits that cling and are unmistakably rubber with lots of shine. A lot really depends on the model wearing it and what she brings to it as well.

K&S: Is filming latex more of a challenge than filming everyday outfits? Do you need to take special considerations for things such as lighting? What other differences are there?

LFTV:  It’s a lot like shooting a shiny car. You need highlights and reflections to emphasise curves and shape. Shooting outside in daylight always looks great.

K&S:  You’ve done a piece titled “Wearing Latex for a Week Challenge.”  This seems to be a “holy grail” type of experience for many latex aficionados who would love to wear latex in public but are too scared to actually take the leap.

a) What tends to be the general reaction of people to the outfits as you are filming?  Do they react with ignorance, puzzlement, disgust or appreciation?

LFTV:  The ‘challenge’ films are some of my favorites. People’s reactions depend on the situation. Wearing latex in more regular settings like city centers or coffee shops get some looks I’m sure. But the outfits worn for those locations are somewhat appropriate and fashionable. Maybe latex leggings or a latex dress. It’s not too out of place. No one is dressed in a full Catwoman outfit in Starbucks. The idea behind them isn’t to shock people for the sake of it. It’s to see how latex clothes can work as part of every day life.

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Photo: Cole Black

b) As a man, I find I get non-fetish women offer a comment on an  outfit it tends to come off as positive.  When a non-fetish man offers a comment, it usually feels as a backhanded insult.  Have you ever considered filing the “viewers” reactions to what they are seeing?  Would that perspective help a latex aficionado put together an outfit in which they would be comfortable wearing without provoking strong reaction – either positive or negative- from the general public?

LFTV:  I generally see positive reactions. But then I’m around people in latex at events or in situations were something different might get a second look but isn’t entirely unexpected. I’m more interested in portraying people as comfortable and confident in their latex rather than looking for a reaction positive or negative.

K&S: Would you consider filming a “latex challenge” video with a person that is a non-model non-fetishist? How about about non-fetishist non-model man?  How about a cross-dresser man or woman?

LFTV:  I  love the idea of introducing a newbie to latex. We’ve done a variation on that with someone’s first time wearing rubber to a club but would love to expand on it more.

K&S:What are your goals for Latex Fashion TV?

LFTV:  To keep bringing you latex fashion and rubbery adventures. Our monthly views just passed 500,000 which is insane but pretty awesome.

K&S: What is your favorite part of being involved with latex fashion?

LFTV:  The friends I’ve made and the people that make up the latex scene.

K&S:  What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world to latex fashion?

LFTV:  To be known as a great place for latex and rubber fashion and to promote the latex community in a positive way.

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Photo: Cole Black

K&S:  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 thru aggressive or demeaning behaviour 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 a style 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?

LFTV:  Any outfit you have to lube up to get into is never going to be common place. Latex does take a little effort to wear, but that’s ok. It’s one of the reasons we love it. I’m sure you could interchange leather with latex at many jobs and it would be fine. A woman might wear a leather skirt to an office job, but not a full leather catsuit. It’s the same thing, you could wear latex leggings to work and be fine but your boss might not appreciate a full latex catsuit and hood.

K&S: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LFTV: You can watch over 300 films with latex fashion on our website or youtube channel (do subscribe) and follow us on social media for sneak peeks and updates. It’s great to get comments and If you’re involved with something epic that deals with fetish fashion we’d love to hear from you.

K&S: Thank You.

Q&A with Helen Teiman of Amentium Latex

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Kyle and Selina:   Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

Amentium:  My name is  Helen Teiman.  I graduated in 2016 from Leicester De Montfort University’s Contour Fashion course. When I started my degree course I had neither sewn nor drawn a fashion illustration before. I was going into it completely blind and I always had to work so much harder to catch up to my peers throughout the entire 3 year intensive course. I have done over 10 internships with fashion companies throughout the UK to push my learning in business but also experience the fashion industry in its raw form.

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

Amentium: As mentioned previously, I have done multiple internships, I thought I would give myself a new challenge and try a different material other than lace or Lycra. Having seen many images of celebrities in latex and extravagant costumes online I was curious about latex. I nervously contacted Catriona Stewart on Facebook, a previous graduate of the Contour Fashion course in De Montfort who had set up her own latex company. I asked if she needed an intern for the upcoming Christmas period in 2014, which was perfect timing as she had a large workload to get done for the Christmas season. Catriona accepted me as an intern (her first ever intern!) and later hired me as an assistant, a position I held for over a year before moving back to Liverpool once I had graduated.

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

Amentium: After completing my second year at university, I was pleased with how much progress I’d made. So I uploaded images of my best work onto PurplePort, including swimwear and lingerie and the first latex outfit I’ve ever made — The Launch Bustle Body. The attention my profile got was crazy — I had so many people asking to buy my outfits. I’d uploaded them onto PurplePort just to have an online portfolio for myself, but never expected anyone to actually want to wear them!

Still on the hunt for more fashion internships, in my final year I contacted the organizer of Liverpool Fashion Week to ask if I could help backstage at the 2015 event. Instead of offering me a backstage job, the organizer asked her if I would like my own show as a designer. I thought that, with the interest I had received on social media, this event would be the perfect platform to potentially start my own business and make some money for my final year at university.

K&S: 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?

Amentium: As a one-person business I find it difficult to balance my time across all areas, some days I want to spend all day designing and making a new collection yet I have to respond to many emails, prepare for upcoming events, sort out events and their fees, outfit costings, suppliers so a lot of my time is spent organizing everything else over what my passion is, designing. In the commercial market everything is based on cost, so as a designer you’re limited. I don’t want my creativity to be limited. I will never compromise on quality, and latex is a niche market where customers are willing to pay for creativity and quality. I feel like latex clothing is more respected as art than just clothing. Yet the rest of the business is definitely very strict on price as Amentium is still such a new brand I have to really think about the cost of everything else so I can spend more money on the outfits.

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

Amentium: I think the lines are starting to blur now more than ever. Initially I wanted to design statement fashion outfits, something to be seen and flaunted, and latex allows that. As Amentium we try and add our own spin on the fetish and kink scene, introducing newbies with more fashion garments than fetish that they are proud to say they wear latex.

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K&S: 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?

Amentium: Latex can be quite a heavy material and likes to have a mind of its own at times, I’ve learnt this the hard way, so introducing volume and loose fitted outfits can sometimes be a challenge to fall the way you intend it to and to stay there. It’s rare to wear undergarments when wearing latex clothing as if it is a fitted garment then you can see every lump and bump where the undergarments are, it creates a much smoother finish going commando. Some people wear undergarments just for their own personal comfort.

K&S: In your experience, how concerned are people concerned about body image   when considering fashion choices. Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions? Do you feel latex tend 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.”

Amentium: People that wear latex exude confidence and there’s nothing better than having someone proud to wear your designs. Latex wearers are generally proud of their body and want to parade it in whatever they wish. When customers are trying on my designs I always get questions like “Does this look okay, is it too tight, can you see my rolls etc?” yet their face and the way they hold themselves has completely changed, and I always say to them, “How do you feel?”. I always wait for their response, even though it is already written all over their face, they feel amazing! That’s what I love about latex, it acts like a second skin in a shapewear fashion, just slipping into a garment can completely change a persons confidence.

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

Amentium: Currently Amentium only offers womenswear, we have many transgender buyers it’s just about finding the right style for their figure. The market is predominantly womenswear but those that do menswear are very good at what they do. Likewise for the celebrity driven brands.

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

Amentium: I will always hold a special place in my heart for The Launch Bustle Body as this was the very first latex outfit I had made and ultimately started Amentium as a brand.

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K&S: 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?

Amentium: Yes, latex has a certain smell, doesn’t breathe, can be tight and make you sweat as a result but personally, I do not think it looks like you’re selling sex. Amentium wants to break the negativity with latex that it’s “for weird people who wear gimp masks and leads”. We offer loose fitting outfits like the Back to Basics Pencil Skirt that is more breathable so sweating is minimal. Some customers like to wear a smaller size as they love the constricting feel and how the tightness shapes their body, some customers prefer to wear something bigger I cater to each individual customer about their needs.

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

Amentium: This depends on the collection, who I have in mind and where they will be wearning it. The ILLUSION collection is definitely the most revealing whereas the new collection that is about to be released on the website is more covered and all about volume, a lot of jumpsuits and highlighting elements of the body ie legs, waist, rather than revealing them.

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

Amentium: I encourage people to invest in a basic everyday pieces like a plain skater skirt, pencil skirt to combine with a non latex top as you can dress it up or down, with another latex garment or another material. What is very popular at the moment is the Back to Basics Strappy Halterneck to be mixed with jeans and a jacket for everyday public wear.

K&S: What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

Amentium: This has changed and evolved since we launched the company. We are inspired by so many different things that drives the creativity. I know this is very vague but if struggling to find a way to articulate an answer for this question as it would need a huge background of stories to answer.

K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?

Amentium: We want to continue to grow and push the boundaries for design, try new things and master them. We also intend to start on menswear… we keep saying this but it WILL happen… eventually!

K&S:  What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer.

Amentium: Definitely the people I get to meet. Everyone is so warm and welcoming, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world with the brand and no matter where I go everyone is so supportive and engaging.

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K&S:  What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?.

Amentium: I wouldn’t say there is one. I am grateful for all my accomplishments to date no matter how small and I think if I continue to think this way then bigger things will follow. If you have tunnel vision on one goal you will miss out on other opportunities that could lead to greater things.

K&S: 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 thru 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 a style 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?

Amentium: I despise hierarchy and those who believe their views are superior to others. I think in the society that we live in today has evolved from even 5 years ago when I first started my fashion career. I launched Amentium at Liverpool Fashion Week closing the show with a latex collection, the journalists headlines were all about how racey it was yet my models were more covered that if you walked down the highstreet display windows and billboards. Purely because it was latex so I said to myself, okay, the world isn’t ready just yet. I was involved in a prime time television programme showcasing my designs on ITV last year and still received rude feedback but what both experiences taught me is to have confidence and believe it what you do. The world doesn’t have to agree with you, only a selection of people. When I were 14 I bought a crushed penny that I carry around with me in my purse still, although I was never much of a fan of Shakespeare the quote is from Hamlet “This above all: to thine own self be true” and that is what you have to do as a designer.

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

Amentium: Absolutely! Those that do mens latex do it incredibly well. Hopefully in the near future we’ll be able to add to that list.

K&S: With respect to men’s latex,  you mention you’d like to add it. What would you do to it to make it special to your line?

Amentium:   So this is easy, I really want to do a his and hers matching collection. I have so many customers with jealous husbands as they want to wear something by us with their partner.

K&S: Do you have any final thoughts to add?

Amentium: We’re going to be at Avantgardista, Munich in October if any of the community want to know where we’ll be to purchase or see any of our garments in person aswell as Le Boutique Bizarre in the Ministry of Sound, London during London Fetish Weekend.

K&S: Thank You


More Information:

Amentium Latex web site

Amentium Twitter feed

Helen Teiman on LatexFashionTV

Q&A with Catalyst Latex

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Kyle&Selina: Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

Catalyst Latex: 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 Hil’s degree from the London College of Fashion and Kit’s art college background together provided the creative aspects for Catalyst

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K&S: 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?

Catalyst: 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.

K&S: 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. 

Catalyst: 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 behavior.

K&S: 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.

Catalyst: 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.

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

Catalyst: 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.

K&S: How long does the chlorination effect last? Is it permanent or does it diminish in the long run? 

Catalyst: Chlorination, as a surface process, lasts as long as the surface. High wear areas, depending on your activity 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.

K&S: How difficulty are repairs since latex does tear when you are not careful?

Catalyst: 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 a repairable as normal latex.

K&S: 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?

Catalyst: 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.

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K&S: 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?

Catalyst: 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!

K&S: 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.

Catalyst: 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 market place 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.

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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.

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

Catalyst: 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.

K&S: 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?

Catalyst: 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!

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

Catalyst: 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.

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

Catalyst: 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.

K&S: Do you feel latex tend 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.”

Catalyst: 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.

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

Catalyst: Celebrity couture is quite subtle and usually it is the stylist making the inquiry/order.  It will be quite specific and exacting, and a 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 is 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!

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

Catalyst: 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, its not cheap but takes a full 2-3 days to make and meticulously finish, gives years of service and excellent value.

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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!

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

Catalyst: 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 odor and increased wearability.

K&S: What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

Catalyst: 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.

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

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

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

Catalyst: 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 luster.  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.

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K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?

Catalyst: 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)

K&S: What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer.

Catalyst: 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 gluing, 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!

K&S: What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general.

Catalyst: 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.

K&S: 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 thru 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 a style 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?

Catalyst: 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.

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

Catalyst: 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?

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K&S: Is there anything you would like to add?

Catalyst: 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!

K&S: Thank You.


More Information:

Catalyst Latex web site

Q & A with Atsuko Kudo

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Kyle & Selina: Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

Atsuko Kudo: I have studied fashion in Tokyo where I discovered  latex then I moved to London to study theater costume and night clubs!

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

AK: As above, I discovered latex when I was studying fashion in Tokyo. it was a part of the college course to do the 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 super woman when I wore it. Later it become my passion to dress other women to discover the magic of latex and feel empowered.

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

AK: 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!

K&S: 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?

AK: 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 hand made in London.

If you haven’t got a factory to cut the down the cost like big fashion brands or just exist as a one woman band with no shop or staff to avoid paying high over heads 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 its 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.

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  • Photo: Gregory Michael King / Esme Bianco

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

AK: I like them all!

K&S: 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?

AK: 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 body con styles but lets not limit our perception. Loose garment can be wonderful too. For example we make a very nice trench coat which is not body con at all but I think it is very sexy.

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  • Photo: Andrew Lamb

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

AK: It’s nice to wear it without under wear. If latex is cut correctly it will give you support like a shape wear. 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.

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

Do you feel latex tend 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.”

AK:  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 shape wear. There are garments with built in bra cups, 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.

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

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

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  • Photo: Peter Ashworth

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

AK: For a woman… we created so many pieces for so many incredible women and I love them all – but if I have to choose one it have 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 hard core 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 long time collaborator, business partner, muse and later become my  husband – it was for a Millennium party – the year 2000 was when I started Atsuko Kudo.

K&S: People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat to much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex.

How do you address those concerns?

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

I see latex 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. some times. On my own terms. It’s interesting – not boring. So long as it is all under your control.

K&S: What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

AK: I want to empower the 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.

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

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

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

AK: 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!

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  • Photo: Andrew Lamb

K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?

AK: I want to dress the Queen of England in our latex one day. When she celebrated her 60 years diamond jubilee she had a photographic exhibition in Windsor castle with one photo per year and chose that picture with Lady Gaga for presenting the year 2009. It seemed so far away before but after seen 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 will be nice. it will be a pleasure and my ultimate dream.

K&S: What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

AK: To be able to meet and work with so many amazing people and projects. We get to work with world’s top super stars 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 a corset, briefs and 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 make 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 one on the news paper. Often more so.

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

AK: 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 super model 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!

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  • Model: Natasha Poly, Photography & Director: Jeff Bark

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 theater 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, whats next? The blue sky can be anything…

K&S: 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 thru 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 a style 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?

AK: 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 have the problem. Stop fear and make love the goal.

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

AK: Man’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.

K&S: Is there anything you would like to add?

AK: 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

K&S: Thank You.


More Information:

Atsuko Kudo Web site