I associate leather with my carnal desires — the sleek material, the tightness around my waist and my choice of charcoal black, they all embody my sexuality. Dark is dynamic. More specifically, kink-wear in general has been at the center of my identity since I was fairly young. As an adult, the correlation between leather, PVC, latex and fetish-wear are now a staple in my everyday ensemble. Whether it’s visible or not, the physical restriction of fetish-wear mentally empowers me and feeds into my desires for control and domination.
The desire of fetish-wear goes beyond my aesthetic attraction. Perversions excite me, especially when exhibited in public. Introducing kinky clothing into my public appearance has been an essential aspect of my identity since discovering my sexuality. It’s about the restraints in the bedroom or the strap-ons used for penetration. It’s about finding a femme-affirming outfit, feeling sexy in my harness and falling in love with my reflection. It’s about projecting that love and desire onto my partner. It’s about tying them up and reaching for my leather whip — fetish accessories are the linchpin of my sex life.
Freud, per usual, explained that fetishes were a substitute for a phallus. The fetish protects the penis from castration. This, of course, isn’t convincing. My body isn’t envious of a penis, my body is envious of itself. In a way, kink-wear has made me my own fetish — what I wear has enhanced my appreciation and love for myself.
Kink-wear, leather, PVC and latex are incredibly rooted in the hyper-masculine gay culture, aka “leathermen.” In the 1940s, gay leather culture grew out of World War II motorcycle culture, with the first gay leather bar opening up in Chicago in 1958. New Yorkers in the 1980s wore kink-wear and leather to AIDS protests. Only recently has leather culture been associated as a subset of BDSM. As a queer person, the dark fetishism makes me feel my most femme-affirming self. Although historically masculine, kink-wear is being donned by the wider queer community.
On a surface level, we know that fashion contributes to narrative, identity and empowerment, but as a clothing fetishist, that meaning can go much deeper. While there is, of course, an orgasmic and sexual connection to kink-wear, the personal weight, touch and feel of the materials utilized are what really move me.
Contrary to belief, kink clothing doesn’t always have to involve sex. In a recent interview with GNAT Kink Wear on the Slutist, Gnat Madrid explained, “When someone puts on my work, I want them to feel activated in a certain way and tap into their own desires, their own pleasure, their own sense of self.” Fashion is a turn-on, wearing items for the purpose of yourself is a form of being charged and empowered. If being into yourself turns into more intimate moments with a partner, then that’s incredible, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Madrid goes on to say, “I think of fashion as a fetish. I think that my work goes even deeper into explicitly making that fetish a reality. All fashion, when you’re putting it on, is a fetish. You’re tapping into something.”
For many, BDSM and kink are something that is shared privately behind closed doors. The stigma surrounding BDSM culture is still negative. However, when I wear my fetish-wear in public, I’m exposing that secret. My sexuality is not a sin when I wear my fetish-wear in public. It isn’t taboo, it’s celebrated. Wearing something as simple and subtle as a collar excitedly exposes my erotic kinkiness.
This isn’t to say that being a more reserved kinkster doesn’t validate you. But as someone who can’t shut up about kink, being a dominant or anything related to sex, wearing fetish-wear to brunch, to the bar, to the grocery store and on a coffee date are essential to my identity.
My PVC harness rests on top of my shirt, as my latex skirt constricts and pulls. The celebratory introduction to my eroticism is forever prevalent and noticeable. My boots are heavy and loud. I cannot be unseen.
Originally published on HelloFlo.