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For more than 50 years, fetishistic themes and iconography have been increasingly integrated into the changing face of fashion. But while high heels, corsets and leather have become par for the course, rubberwear retains its ability to turn he and raise eyebrows.
After migrating from battle trenches to fetish clubs, latex clothing now makes the most impact on catwalks and red carpets.
Countless headlines prove that the combination of latex and celebrity is still deemed newsworthy. Latex, long seen as something that necessitated secrecy or censorship, is now celebrated with hypervisibility.
Although rubberwear is in the middle of a media renaissance, its journey from Brazilian rainforests to secretive dungeons and now centre stage has been years in the making. Though natural rubber latex has come to be associated with futurism and technology, its origins are ancient and organic. Latex is a milky fluid that oozes from over 20, plant species after tissue injury. The sap-like substance, which coagulates and hardens to form an elastic and waterproof mass, is tapped by making careful incisions with small blades.
South America remained the main source of latex untilwhen Henry Wickham, in an act of botanical piracy, smuggled 70, Amazonian rubber tree seeds out of Brazil and into England. These seedlings eventually made their way to more compatible climates in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia, countries that today rank among the largest producers of natural rubber.
During the industrial revolution, latex became a hugely valuable colonial resource. As rubber clothing increased in popularity, some wearers came to discover it was both pragmatic and sexually pleasurable. Latex still has a strong association with fetish wear Credit: Alamy.
After World War Two, a wave of social conservatism forced fetishists underground. Though his initial intention in launching the AtomAge brand was to make weather resistant clothing for bikers, it became increasingly obvious that his des were coveted for private, rather than public use.
Deer Stella McCartney regularly uses latex — which is a vegan material — in the making of her accessories Credit: Getty Images. The s British spy series The Avengers was monumental in bringing rubberwear to the masses. Sutcliffe capitalised on the obsession with his products, and founded AtomAge Magazine in Their notorious shopfront was renamed SEX inmarked by a giant made of pink rubber. Latex garments were a ature of SEX, which catered to the established fetish crowd and a thriving subculture of youngsters.
Latex kink being popularised by punks, rubberwear found its new home in s nightlife, with club kids and performers. I wanted to use rubber in a way that was subversive as a material, but not in a fetish way. She recounts only being able to find poorly deed garments in dingy sex shops, and her desire to bring the material further above ground. But this was post punk and we were challenging things. Its emphatic embrace on screens was mirrored on runways. Kim Kardashian, seen here wearing a de by Atsuko Kudo, is among the celebrities who has popularised latex Credit: Getty Images.
When asked what celebrities want to say to the world when they wear latex, The Baroness simply put her middle finger up. Though the trickle-down effect is inevitable, rubberwear is still a long way from commonplace or casual.
If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook or message us on Twitter. Style Fashion. From fetish to fashion: The rise of latex. Share using. By Cassidy George 8th January Once shocking and fetishistic, rubberwear has since been embraced latex kink fashion on catwalks and the red carpet. More like this: - Is it the end for high heels? As soon as I tried it on I felt like superwoman — Atsuko Kudo. Around the BBC.Latex kink
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