How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion

Why Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Taylor Swift are squeezing into fetish gear.

July 07, 2015

Latex may look high-tech, but the shiny, pliable fabric is almost 200 years old. Its sartorial applications were limited to waterproof macintoshes in the 1920s, but the rubber-dipped material's unique properties quickly earned it a devoted following in fetishistic communities. Before the internet, a handful of companies wielded the supply of latex, but e-commerce broke those monopolies, flooding the market with what had once been an expensive, rare material. Now, latex is experiencing something of a renaissance, appearing on red carpets and music videos, as well as high-fashion runways. Here's how it got there:

ADVERTISEMENT
It was a controversial moment for Spears' fragile, virginal image, and pop stars learned from her misstep and steered clear, until Lady Gaga.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Gianni Ferrari / Getty Images
Latex was an appropriate medium for Gaga, who made her name in the subversive and controversial.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion WPA Pool / Getty Images
Never one to turn down an unconventional fabric, Katy Perry followed suit, in a coterie of clinging minidresses.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Getty Images
The relatively inexpensive material quickly became a go-to for large-scale, flashy tour wardrobes, as seen on Nicki Minaj.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Even Britney got back on the latex horse for a minute there.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Ethan Miller / Getty Images
After designers like Vivienne Westwood's early dalliances with the material had ended, towards the end of 2010 a new crop of brands fell in love with the pliable, clingy material
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Chromat SS '15 / JP Yim / Getty Images
Then, a couple years later, Kudo found herself a poster girl: Kim Kardashian, a long-time fan of the material.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Scott Barbour / Getty Images
Kim wore a Kudo bustier to the GQ awards last year.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Anthony Harvey / Getty Images
And this pink Kudo midi dress, like, two days ago.
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion Rick Diamond / Getty Images
More from FADER Video
How Latex Went From Sex Shops To High-Fashion