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Fetish Fashion designs by Perish Dignam
Fetish Fashion Models onstage

Fetish fashion is any style or appearance in the form of a type of clothing or accessory, created to be extreme or provocative. These styles are not usually worn by the majority of people on any regular basis. They are usually made of materials such as leather, latex or synthetic rubber or plastic, nylon, PVC, spandex, fishnet, and stainless steel. Some fetish fashion items include: stiletto heel shoes and boots (most notably the ballet boot), hobble skirts, corsets, collars, full-body latex catsuits, stockings, miniskirt, crotchless underwear, garters, locks, rings, zippers, eyewear, handcuffs, and stylized costumes based on more traditional outfits, such as wedding dresses that are almost completely see-through lace. Fetish fashions are sometimes confused with costuming, because both are usually understood to be clothing that is not worn as the usual wardrobe of people, and are instead worn to create a particular reaction.

Fetish fashions are usually considered to be separate from those clothing items used in cosplay, whereby these exotic fashions are specifically used as costuming to effect a certain situation rather than to be merely worn; such as the creation of a character for picture play. However, sometimes the two areas do overlap. For example, in Japan, many themed restaurants have waitresses who wear costumes such as a suit made of latex or a stylized French maid outfit.

The two photographs to the right are from the 2012 Los Angeles Fetish Film Festival.

Some type of garments that women wear to routinely improve their appearance are thought of as erotic and qualify as fetish wear: corsets and high heels. Most fetish wear is not practical enough for routine daily wear. A very common fetish costume for women is the dominatrix costume. Usually it consists of mostly dark or even black clothing. The woman usually wears a corset or bustier and stockings with high heeled footwear. High boots are quite common as they enhance the woman's domination. Most women in dominatrix costumes carry an accessory such as a whip or a riding crop.



Fetish fashion has no specific origin point because certain fashions that were appreciated specifically for themselves or worn as part of a specific subculture have been noted since the earliest days of clothing. Some argue[who?] that the use of corsetry and hobble skirts back in the late 18th century was the first mainstream note of fetish fashions, because the majority of society did not have access to these articles[citation needed]. These items were specifically appreciated for themselves (i.e. the person liked the woman wearing the corset rather than just the woman by herself).

However, others argue that what is termed as fetish fashions started with the leather subculture of the homosexual London, England underground after World War II. During this period, the homosexual men who began to use the rarely used leather clothing items were doing so publicly and in large-order as identification and separation from the norm. Perhaps more importantly, the leather clothing items were being appreciated for themselves, and not just for their functional use. However, others argue that this identification is too restrictive, and that fetish fashion includes more than just leather.

The leather subculture later became more mainstream in the British 1960s due to the influence of rock musicians such as The Rolling Stones and The Who, and television performers such as Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman in The Avengers, who wore full body leather catsuits and full limb-covering leather and latex gloves and boots.

Many fashion designers incorporate elements of the fetish subculture into their creations or directly create products based on elements that are not accepted by the mainstream. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood created several restrictive BDSM-inspired clothing items of punk fashion for the 1970s punk subculture; in particular bondage trousers, which connect the wearer's legs with straps. The more recent fetish clothing makers House of Harlot and Torture Garden Clothing, Breathless of London, Vex Latex Clothing and Madame S of California focus on using latex and leather as the base material for their creations, rather than as an accessory.


Fetish fashions became popularized in the United States during the 1950s through books and magazines such as Bizarre and many other underground publications. Skin Two is a contemporary fetish magazine covering many aspects of the worldwide fetish subculture. The name is a reference to fetish clothing as a second skin.


Playboy Playmate Dasha Astafieva wearing a see-through fishnet dress, and without wearing any undergarments, poses for photographers at a Playboy party in USA, 2008.[1]

Fetish Fashion Culture is a key influence both off and on the runways. Many well known designers are starting to use fetish wear as an inspiration. Borrowing details from this realm Creating sexy silhouettes, sensual design lines and incorporating materials such as latex, PVC, Lace, Vinyl and Patent Leather. In this group of designers, we can easily recognize big names such as Jonathan Saunders, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Channel and Nicholas Kirkwood. The Alexander Mcqueen Autumn/Winter 2016 Ready-To-Wear Collection is a great example of the influence that these cultures have had over high end fashion brands. On most looks you could observe the inspiration of materials and pieces such as harnesses and corsets. [2]

There are also some new brands that are being created just based on the Fetish clothing luxury market. For example Zana Bayne a NYC-based Post-Fetish Leather Brand. Founded by Zana Bayne in 2010, their work is mostly recognized for its focus on quality craftsmanship and for their unique take on S&M/punk-inspired harnesses. Their leather works have been worn by celebrities such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga. They have also collaborated with brands such as Marc Jacobs and Comme des Garcons, were Todd Pendu start working for the brand. In 2012 he became a full-time creative partner for the company. Another example of a brand purely influenced by Fetish Fashion is Atsuko Kudo, they design and manufacture ladies wear entirely in latex rubber.[3]

Street style has also been highly influenced by the Fetish Fashion Culture. Items such as: chockers, fishnets, corsets, high-thigh boots, details such as: straps, buckles, pierced ring hardware and chains and materials like patent leather and vinyl have regain popularity at the end of 2016 and thought 2017, for the last couple of months they acceptance has increased and we have seen their adaptation to the new trends in Ready To Wear and to the street wear around the world.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lauren Johnston (18 December 2008). "Hugh Hefner gal pal Dasha Astafieva bares all on Playboy red carpet". NY Daily News. 
  2. ^ Mower, Sarah. "Alexander McQueen Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show". Vogue. Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  3. ^ "Bio". ZANA BAYNE New York. Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Savannah College of Art and Design". Retrieved 2017-04-19.