From Masks to Opera Gloves, Manufacturers Talk BDSM Accessories
BDSM is not only known for its kinky activities, but also, for all the leather, latex, spandex and PVC fashions that go with it. Fetish attire can be worn by people who aren’t actually participating in bondage, domination, spanking, flogging and other BDSM activities: some fetish fashion enthusiasts enjoy the look of BDSM without actually engaging in BDSM activities. But the two often go hand in hand, and “Fifty Shades of Grey” — first the popular E.L. James novel in 2011, now the movie in 2015 — has done a lot to promote interest in fetish attire as well as BDSM activities.
A wide variety of accessories are being sold in the world of fetish attire, from masks and hoods to leather, latex or PVC opera gloves to fishnets. Fetish masks have a long history of being depicted in BDSM fiction: back in 1976, they were seen in the film adaptation of the French novel “The Story of O,” a.k.a. l’Histoire d’O — and more recently, they were depicted in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The use of masks in “Fifty Shades” has not been lost on the Van Nuys, Calif.-based Baci Lingerie, which in 2014, unveiled its Masq by Baci line of Venetian-style masks. The masks, of course, work well in BDSM fantasy role-play, although they can also be worn strictly as a fashion accessory.
Helle Panzieri, Baci’s sales director, noted that there are no less than 20 different styles in the Masq by Baci collection. Panzieri told XBIZ: “’Fifty Shades of Grey’ has created a real mainstreamed climate for experimental sensual products, including lingerie and accessories.”
In recent years, fetish fashion has become more common at Halloween. Panzieri pointed out that while Baci’s masks can work well as part of a Halloween costume, they aren’t limited to Halloween by any means. “We definitely saw a spike last Halloween, but the Masq styles definitely transcend the costume category and work as a complement to any fantasy or role play,” Panzieri observed.
Baci has also fared well in the world of fetish fashion and accessories with its Corsets by Baci line (which debuted in early 2013) as well as its Fetish Collection and its White Label Collection, which was unveiled in 2010 and continues to grow and expand five years later. Although the White Label Collection is not exclusively fetish-oriented, parts of it can work well in a BDSM/fetish context — including teddies and lingerie with corset-style lacing.
“The 2015 White Label styles are very much an evolution of the Baci aesthetic,” Panzieri noted. “Not only did we explore current trends that would influence the garment designs, but we examined our market, our packaging and where we want to go next. Just as the styles from each of our releases have set a unique tone, our latest looks are once again ahead of the market.”
Fetish by Baci has ranged from long, over-the-elbow vinyl opera gloves to teddies to wrist and ankle restraints to a sexy nurse costume, which can work well in a BDSM setting. Any experienced pro-domme knows that nurse fantasies are not uncommon in BDSM, and a sexy nurse costume can be great to have on hand in a dungeon.
Long opera gloves have been a popular part of fetish attire for many years. It was 50 years ago in 1965 that Diana Rigg, portraying secret agent Emma Peel on the British spy thriller television show “The Avengers,” wore opera gloves with a corset, knee-high boots and a spiked collar in the episode “A Touch of Brimstone.” Between Mistress Emma’s use of a flogger and that dominatrix-like outfit, the ABC television network decided that the episode was too risqué to air in the U.S. However, it did air in the U.K., showing mainstream British audiences what a dominatrix would wear in her dungeon. And over the years, opera gloves have maintained their popularity in fetish attire.
But along the way, opera gloves have diversified in terms of both materials and colors. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the long opera gloves that a dominatrix wore with a catsuit or a corset were typically black leather. But these days, fetish-oriented opera gloves are also likely to be made of latex, PVC or spandex. And they aren’t necessarily going to be black: fetish gloves often come in red, blue, purple and other colors in 2015.
Le Chateau Exotique, which sells an abundance of fetish attire and accessories in its brick-and-mortar store in New Hope, Pa. (a Philadelphia suburb) as well as on its FetishWear.com website, is a good example of a business that offers a variety of fetish gloves. The long gloves that Le Chateau Exotique sells can be found in everything from black satin to fishnet lace.
Alexis Miller, Le Chateau Exotique’s general manager, noted that while leather remains popular for fetish items, those items won’t necessarily be in black. “Leather has by far been the most popular selling material,” Miller told XBIZ. “Whether it is for a full garment or just an accessory, people seem to be after the leather in all colors. We are known for carrying interesting colors of leather.”
One can get a good sense of how far-reaching fetish accessories have become by looking at the popular Stockroom.com website, which sells everything from bondage hoods and masks to breast enhancers to collars. Stockroom’s glove offerings are diverse, ranging from short fishnet gloves to over-the-elbow latex opera gloves.
For kinksters, metal police handcuffs can function not only as restraints, but also, as fashion accessories. Dangling from a corset, metal handcuffs can help to enhance a dominatrix’s sexy authoritarian look.
As the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon rages on, so does the demand for fetish accessories. And that is fine with Alexis Miller.
“It appears that people are broadening their idea of what fetish wear and accessories have to look like,” Miller asserted. “It’s great to see the creativity behind some of the custom outfits our customers have us produce.”