Are designer brands helping to normalise fetish and open interesting conversations around the topic, or are they appropriating kinkwear whilst having limited knowledge on the substance behind the style?
Kinkwear being in mainstream fashion is not a new thing, but at the moment it does feel bigger than ever before. When Kim K does it, the crowd will follow. And on popular fast fashion sites like Shein, ASOS and PLT, you have way more latex fits and BDSM accessories than before.
Erotic Fashion Became Mainstream…
These days, it’s cool to be kinky. It’s a sign that you’re alternative in some way. But when everybody is wearing the same kinky latexy chained up fits, is some of the sexiness lost? Isn’t part of the excitement of kinkwear to do with its controversy and shock factor?
And just because you wear latex, does that make you a real kinkster? If you have style but you don’t have the substance, kinkwear isn’t that sexy… because fashion is just as much if not more about the wearer than the garment itself.
It’s not just kinkwear that is being popularised and consequently normalised. Sex in general, is back in fashion. The the noughties fashion revival has brought back low rise jeans, visible thongs, teeny tops, micro mini skirts.
There’s also been recent discourse about the appropriation of sex worker fashion in high fashion, for example with the typical ‘pleaser’ stripper heels coming into the mainstream.
Menswear has also become a lot more sexual, and more derivative of what is typically queer men’s fashion and also associated with male sex workers like sleeveless tight fitting tops, crop tops, plus more feminine jewellery like pearls being normalised for men.
However, more recently celebs with sex work pasts have stolen the show like Julia Fox, Cardi B and Chloe Cherry, allowing them to rightfully have some control over the trend.
I love that we’re back in a bare-it-all era after a few years of mom jeans, skater style and midi skirts, but if everyone wears micro mini skirts and bras for tops, is it still as provocative? In an increasingly sexually liberated society, where almost anything goes, how do we keep erotic clothing…erotic?
I don’t have the answers. But I have my own opinions. Erotic fashion to me, is about being controversial and imaginative.
Sometimes baring it all doesn’t equal erotic. Sometimes it’s even more provocative to wear a long skirt, that can be lifted up, over a micro mini skirt. Sometimes it’s even more provocative to wear a blouse buttoned to the neck that someone can imagine unbuttoning instead of a barely their top.
Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher definitely solidified that thought to me. It’s almost even more provocative that our perverted protagonist Erika looks like the last person who would never walk into a sex store. It’s unexpected and so it’s more shocking and exciting.
To me, fashion is so intertwined with life and not just the wearer but in what setting the outfit is worn also. In my opinion, erotic fashion is about walking into a church in latex and walking into a sex party looking like a nun. Both things are controversial and provoke a reaction.
Personally, when something gets trendy, it almost turns me off. To see latex worn by every man and his dog makes it feel more asexual. I used to love the idea of boys wearing pearls but after seeing so many guys wear them just to follow a trend and not because they actually feel them as an accessory, I’ve sort of gone off them.
I think my problem with seeing everybody jump on the latex trend is that by wearing it, they are subliminally trying to show that they are out-there and alternative, but 9/10 times they style it in the exact same way as everybody else. So in trying to look alternative, they only reveal themselves as being sheep.
In contrast, I love seeing someone do something I’ve never seen before. The other week I saw a girl in a nightclub and she had wrapped a load of white ribbons around her chest to make a sort of tube top. Tied to each of her wrists were matching long white ribbons, and they swirled in the air as she danced. I loved it.
I could see that she had been innovative. I felt she had imagined being in the club and how the ribbons would move like that as she danced. She was a true alternative.
Being imaginative like this is erotic to me because by creating your own thing, you prove that you’re not just a sheep wearing something because it’s ‘cool’. You thought it yourself and the implication behind it- ribbons tied to the wrist=you like being tied up. It proves that it’s your mind that is sexually imaginative.
This isn’t to slate our current noughties sexy fashion revival, nor kinkwear. I do think that kinkwear is evolving and can still be imaginative. There’s less of just latex bodysuits and black and red colours only. New kinkwear is being created. There’s more cutesy latex dresses and varying colours. I personally love what softskinlatex make.
In a sexually liberated society, I think we should remember that there are a million ways you can be erotic in your fashion and it’s all in the subtle details. The secret doesn’t always lie in latex and micro mini skirts. Ultimately it always comes down to the person wearing the clothes. The substance behind the style.
Featured artwork by Jo Sillars.