Justin Sayne: A Man and His Leather

Alex Henderson

It has often been said that the luckiest, happiest people in the business world are those who can turn their passions and obsessions into a living. Justin Sayne clearly has a passion for leather, and the Arizona-based leather designer (whose company, Justin Sayne Leather, is located about an hour from Phoenix) is a rising star in the world of BDSM items and fetish attire. Sayne’s reputation has been growing — and 2014, he says, has been his company’s most productive year so far.

The origins of Justin Sayne Leather ( go back to 2008, when another leather specialist hired him as an apprentice and showed him all the things that go into creating high-quality leather goods. Sayne found, however, that his mentor wasn’t as BDSM-minded as he was, and eventually, Sayne ended up taking over the kinkier side of the business — which is how Justin Sayne Leather came about. And BDSM has been a major focus of the company, which designs everything from fetish attire (including corsets and collars) to whips, floggers, paddles and restraints. Custom-made items have been a high priority for Sayne, who has been including high-end alligator and buffalo designs in his leather arsenal.

Established dommes and tops have spent a lot of time and money building their collections of toys, and it is really hard to get them to reach into their wallets and pay money to acquire new toys, so the way I try to reach those established people is I hand them something they’ve never seen before.

“Alligator is kind of a new material on the market,” Sayne explains. “There was the longest time when we couldn’t even acquire that type of thing, and now, it’s all over the place. Alligator is still pretty expensive.”

Sayne notes that the BDSM world is comprised of hardcore players as well as people who are engaging in lighter BDSM play, and he is happy to cater to a seasoned dominatrix or dungeon master as well as a soccer mom who just finished reading E.L. James’ wildly popular BDSM-lite novel “50 Shades of Grey.” With disciplinary instruments, for example, Sayne might sell a single tail or a braided cat o’ nine tails to an experienced, seasoned pro-domme but will offer a soft flogger to someone who is exploring lighter BDSM activity.

“Established dommes and tops have spent a lot of time and money building their collections of toys, and it is really hard to get them to reach into their wallets and pay money to acquire new toys,” Sayne observes. “So the way I try to reach those established people is I hand them something they’ve never seen before. I try to show them something that’s cool enough that they would want to flaunt it.”

Historically, black was the official color of BDSM, from whips and floggers to corsets and thigh-high stiletto domination boots to leather bondage cuffs. But these days, a variety of colors are making their presence felt in BDSM — and Sayne finds that the more softcore BDSM players are quite receptive to blue, red, purple, pink and other colors. He also finds that they make great customers because they aren’t nearly as picky as established BDSM players can be.

“50 Shades has made BDSM so prevalent, and I have a lot of toys that are engineered to attract the housewives and newbies,” Sayne said. “These are softer, more casual toys — cuffs and collars and floggers made with bright, pretty colors. They’re suede. They’re materials that housewives or beginners can relate to: nice, bright, pretty stuff. Colors that are more dainty, yet they’re just as strong as the big, fat heavy stuff. Some people are not going to be interested in big, black, gnarly things, and I’m going to get their attention with pretty colors.”

2014 has been a year of expansion for Justin Sayne Leather, and one of the company’s strongest allies in recent months has been photographer Hew Burney. Sayne and Burney met on June 7 in Las Vegas at the reopening of the Erotic Heritage Museum, which is now called Harry Mohney’s Erotica Museum. Burney has become a strong promoter of the company, introducing Sayne to veteran erotic photographer Ken Marcus and other major figures in the adult entertainment industry.

“Our company already put a couple of pieces in the Erotic Heritage Museum, and we were really upset about it being gone,” Sayne recalls. “So when it reopened, we had to make it. And when we got there, Hew Burney came around with a camera. He took interest in our product like nobody I had ever seen before. Hew saw what I had and put us in front of all the right people. He put us in front of Ken Marcus — we made an appointment to do some photographs in Ken’s studio. I couldn’t have done that on my own. There’s just no way.”

Safety, Sayne stresses, should be a top priority for anyone involved in BDSM — and bearing that in mind, he has created a device that is intended to make erotic asphyxiation less risky. Sayne acknowledges that erotic asphyxiation is a controversial topic — even in BDSM circles — but he stresses that if people are determined to engage in that activity, they need to think long and hard about safety. Sayne explains: “I lost a friend to asphyxiation, and my product is designed to be a safety device. I created a collar that you can put on, but it’s not a belt — it’s actually made out of lambskin. So it’s a little stretchy. It’s not going to bite like a belt. This thing is soft and breakable: it’s the only toy I have that is intended to break.”

One area of leather that Sayne hasn’t ventured into so far is fetish boots, although he hasn’t ruled out the possibility. “I have the machinery to do boots,” Sayne notes. “So far, I haven’t had a call for them. But if I got a serious request for a pair of custom boots, I would make them.”

Sayne continues: “I’m a leather designer. If you want me to design an electric blue suede single tail, call me. If you want a single tail that looks like 1,000 other single tails, call me. If you want a purple cat o’ nine tails, call me. I’ll make it. I don’t want to leave anybody out. There’s something for everybody.”