Kyle & Selina: Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?
YGL: I have no fashion background as such. I think I did one term for Fashion Design Tech at year 9 before changing modules to Dance. Much like Simon from Libidex I am a Psychology graduate from Coventry University.
After university, I found myself a job in a wedding dress shop and loved every minute of helping brides try on different styles and find their dress. Soon after, I was given the knowledge of how to make sheets of latex from liquid latex and my natural creativeness and interest in fashion took over and Yummy Gummy was born.
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?
YGL: The person that gave me the latex knowledge had some bits of sheet latex hanging around which I wasn’t very impressed with. It was only through him showing me what it was and telling me how people made clothes from it that I discovered the things you could do with it. At first, I didn’t like wearing latex, but that might have been because all there was to try was a moulded bodysuit, but at another photoshoot I was introduced to glued latex.
The bodysuit was very very tight. I couldn’t get it past my knees and I had to be shoehorned in. I was terrified of it not fitting. I now know that it was a totally normal experience and fit, but to start with it was a bit daunting not being able to dress myself. I loved the way it felt, though, and felt totally comfortable prancing around in a wood in heelless shoes in it for the rest of the day.
It is an incredibly moreish material. Whether you’re making or buying, you always have the next outfit you want lined up almost before you’ve bought/made the first piece. Here I am today with a wardrobe of over 80 pieces that I made just for myself and there are many more things I have planned still to make.
K&S At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?
YGL: Around the Christmas of 2012, I started making little sheets of latex at home on the kitchen table. I thought it would be a part-time hobby job that I would do after work or something like that. It wasn’t until April 2013 that I realized it was becoming much more than just a hobby job. I registered as self-employed when I was let go from my job in August, I haven’t looked back since. My life since then has been Yummy Gummy; I no longer know where I end and it begins.
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?
YGL: I only worry when I get quiet during summer. I got so used to making latex every day for 7 days a week that if I’m not doing that I worry I don’t have enough work. However, Yummy Gummy has allowed me to save substantially and I bought a house in March 2017, so things are going pretty well.
I’d love to do more celebrity clothing or sheeting. Vex Clothing in the US, who works for a lot of celebs, buys my sheeting so it’s only a matter of time before something appears somewhere pretty cool. I find the more I get creative with the latex the more profitable things get. For example, I made a new latex patterning technique that I ran an Instagram competition for called #namethatlatex. From that, I decided to call it Acid Splatter and I have sold a fair few sheets of it since.
People love new things and colours and patterns so I have to push myself and be as creative as possible to keep ahead of the game and people interested in me. A lot of the time customers don’t know what they want until they see it. I have to keep guessing what it is they might want and keep putting it in front of them.
K&S: Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?
YGL: It’s a bit of everything. It is mostly still in the Alternative reaches of fashion. It’s worn when the wearer wants to feel edgy; it’s like leather trousers or a vinyl coat. It’s worn as a statement, to not blend in. If it’s not worn as a statement, it’s worn for the thrill of the wearer. It makes you feel how no other fabric makes you feel.
That heightened feeling of empowerment, sexuality and security: nothing else can make you feel like that. It’s an addictive feeling, mixed with the exhilaration of feeling nearly naked. It’s a naughty combination, and if you enjoy attention it can be very fun to wear to non-kink events. You can see why celebrities enjoy wearing it.
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?
YGL: It can be both. It can be rather luxurious when draped, especially when it’s wafty thin; it can feel like satin, only if it is left talcy though. Tight is what everyone is used to and familiar with when associating latex to a look. When wearing something very tight, it is better to not wear anything underneath or something with minimal lines that will not dig into the skin and show. Also, anything you wear underneath will get soaked through with sweat.
The tightness and weight of latex makes wearing no knickers feel safer than if wearing normal clothes, as it is less likely to ride due to its figure-hugging nature. However, if the latex has a bad fit all sorts of accidents could happen. It’s always best to get good-fitting latex by checking your measurements against designers’ measurement charts or buying made-to-measure. I myself, in some garments, will wear no knickers but a bra to give myself some shape as latex can have a boob flattening effect if you don’t have a lot of volume.
As for intimidating: once you’ve tried it once everything is all fine, but it is always a bit scary going commando for the first time no matter what fabric you’re wearing.
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 it was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?
YGL: Everyone has their own demons and niggles that they will see even if they’re naked. You have to have this sorted in your head first. Anything tight you see yourself in you’re going to hate if you don’t already like yourself. I have found that some people have enjoyed the sucking-in effect that a skin-tight latex dress can offer, while others have plucked at their flat stomachs convinced that they look pregnant.
I offer waist-cinching belts that accentuate curves which always have a positive effect on the wearer regardless of size. The curvier the customer the more these belts change their shape making it look more hourglass. (see: wide pointed belt in the shop).
Latex is something that is tight so will smooth out the lines of the figure, but it’s not a steel boned corset (unless that’s built in) so it’s not going to drastically change a body shape. I am working with Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust; she is about a 24/26 in my latex. She sometimes enjoys wearing shapewear under latex and sometimes goes without. It depends how hugged in, tight and controlled she wants to feel. You can never tell if she has it on because shapewear is made so there are no lines and everything tucks into where garments start and end, e.g. at the waist, or becomes looser at the knee. This is a good option for people that feel they need that extra bit of support.
K&S: How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?
YGL: Well, I’m mostly targeted towards women’s so I see a lot of that. However working closely with Latex101 I see that there is a massive gay men’s scene that the general latex community doesn’t see. I’d say there is probably a bigger market for men’s that comes out of the gay scene, but in the latex community outside of the gay scene it’s more catered to women, as straight ladies are more likely to be experimental in their fashion than straight men.
You can see this in most smaller latex brands (like myself) have 90% ladies wear and 10% men’s. Latex is growing in popularity in the trans and drag scene; I get a few my way but because I’m not fully tapped into it I can’t speak too much for it.
K&S: What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?
YGL: You can’t ask me this question! It is so hard! I’ve made so many pieces for fashion shows and the like. My favourite thing that I sell is the Strappy Dress which is such a beautiful figure-hugging dress. It lends itself to any style and pattern of latex. I offered it in Asylum Latex [Yummy Gummy’s hand-print effect latex sheeting] in red-silver ombre for Halloween and black-gold ombre for Christmas. I would have one in every colour I can make.
As for sheet latex, my favourite that I’ve made is Opal Marble in colour change. It’s an explosion of colours and looks intergalactic! I would have every item of clothing I’ve made in that latex! I love a big swishy ball gown that sounds like thunder when you walk but the dress I’ve worn the most to non-latex events has been my floral dress as it transcends all fashions.
As for men’s, I didn’t make the garment but I made a Water Marble poppy latex on silver for Latex101, who made it into a t-shirt for a loyal customer. That is one of my most favourite menswear pieces that I was involved with making. This customer had amazing ideas and really believed in my ability and would always order something I hadn’t worked out how to make yet in order to push me just a little bit further each time. I love it when customers understand my capabilities and can imagine how I could manipulate latex into the pattern they want.
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?
YGL: If you don’t like it don’t buy it, but try it first. I’ve converted many a sceptic by just putting them in it; very few get undressed still disliking it. If people like it but feel they’re selling sex then they just need to sort out in their heads and just own it and ignore the people they think will think they’re selling sex. Or they need to wear it to latex-friendly parties where they will feel right at home and everyone will be admiring them.
K&S: What is your design philosophy? What drives your creativity?
YGL: ALL OF THE COLOURS!! How do I make black more interesting? How can I make sheet latex better? How can I cater to as many body shapes as possible with this design? How can I corrupt latex virgins?
K&S: Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?
YGL: Something that covers more gives me more to play with design wise, however I am looking at making lingerie at the moment which is less than a dress but I’m still enjoying how to cut things so it shows off the best parts and hugs in all the right ways. For me, it’s all about the latex pattern, so the less latex in an outfit the less you can see the pattern that I’ve put all the effort into making.
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?
YGL: It’s always easiest with all fashion statements to have the slightly bonkers thing on the bottom half. I have worn latex skirts with black simple fabric tops to the Panto in London and the Royal Albert Hall. I prefer to wear latex skirts as they’re free and easy and less restrictive when walking about London on a day out. If I wasn’t making latex I would have bought latex leggings to wear somewhere fancy for a night out instead of skinny jeans.
K&S: What are your goals for your future in latex design?
YGL: Take over the world! I’d like to dress Lady Gaga. I might have my latex on her soon in her tour, fingers crossed!!! I’d like to have my clothes in more shops, like high-end boutiques that already see £300 fabric dresses. I look forward to designing new collections and creating new colours and patterns of latex in the future. I can’t say what they’re going to be because I don’t even know what direction my head and new techniques I discover will take me.
K&S: What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?
YGL: Seeing people in their clothes that they’ve bought and loving it! It’s the most rewarding thing to see customers enjoying wearing their latex that I’ve designed and made from scratch, and now they’re wearing it looking amazing. Also, watching fashion shows where another designer has bought my latex and made something of their own out of it. I love seeing how other designers creatively use my latex.
K&S: What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?
YGL: Breaking the boundaries of how latex can look. Having people not immediately dive into black latex and consider having something a little more colourful or just a little less boring, e.g. colour change opal marble – black, but colourful – which will go with a myriad of outfits.
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 through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.
This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be commonplace? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?
What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?
YGL: I think the reason latex hasn’t fully transcended like leather trousers is the fragility of it. The everyday is a dangerous place for latex, with inexperienced wearers and sharp things everywhere that could rip it. Because the best latex is made in western countries where wages are higher, this results in the price of latex being higher. This means that if it is fragile people don’t want to be wearing it on the everyday, as they don’t want to ruin the £100 leggings just mucking around, or have an idiot grab at their £140 dress on a night out. But they also don’t want their expensive clothing hanging about unworn in a cupboard.
There’s a lot that that can be blamed on attitudes towards sexuality. I have been worried about wearing latex to a club because I fear the wrong kind of male attention. If women get leered at wearing fabric dresses we fear twice as worse if we’re looking even sexier in something shiny. Latex catches the light and as it is a rare thing to be seen it’ll attract a little more attention. As more and more latex is seen around and about, the less it’ll bring curiosity.
So yes, at the moment it is very much fear of fear itself; I fear the potential attention I might get while wearing latex around a bunch of drunk men that haven’t seen it before. In reality, the times I’ve worn it out it’s been during the day and not in the club and no one has mentioned anything or pointed anything out. The times I’ve worn my floral dress around and about no one as either noticed it’s latex or have only complimented me on how pretty and unusual it is.
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?
YGL: I think to be good at selling menswear you need a lot of variety. I offer 3 men’s shirts, when I had them on my stall I only sold the button down polo shirts and hardly any [men] looked at the side zip shirts I was offering, but I always have men ask for more variety. What straight men want is their familiar clothes made into latex so it’s not too much of a scary transition. Something that buttons down with a collar or a looser fitting t-shirt is closer to what they’re used to wearing every day than a tight fitting t-shirt or slightly funky zip shirt.
Either that or they drive a hard bargain, as menswear sold faster than ladies in my boxing day sale. I enjoy and find it easier to design women’s clothes (being a woman). I’ve had a lot of practice and know what women want and like to wear. I’d love to make more menswear but because when I dipped my toe in designing something a little different and customers still only bought the regular polo shirts it kind of put me off wanting to go out on a limb and design more.
K&S: Is there anything you would like to add?
YGL: Be wary of other people making their own sheet latex. Latex can cause allergic reactions if it isn’t the right kind of liquid latex and the right kind of pigments. I haven’t just worked this all out for myself from a fashion degree at uni: I was taught by someone that used to make sheet latex 20 years ago, who gave me the right suppliers to buy the right kind of pigments and latex from. I know what I make is high quality and safe to wear.
I’d like to thank my boyfriend Sam Wright and my long suffering helpers Meg and Nicola for putting up with all my shit and helping out at my markets; Latex 101 for their advice and support from the very beginning; my customers for believing in what I make and for astounding me everyday that someone wants to buy what I make and having such amazingly creative ideas; and lastly but not least the late Matthew Brown for giving me the knowledge and encouragement to go forth and start Yummy Gummy – without him I would be working a normal boring job and the latex scene would still be black and red.
K&S: Thank You