After a few rounds with a beginner’s vinyl whip or pair of PVC handcuffs, up-and-coming kinksters are quick to level up to leather… unless they’re vegan, of course. When BDSM is a lifestyle, consumers trust industry experts like Farah Shaikh of Rouge Garments to provide them with the quality to match their cravings.
Rouge Garments is a U.K-based manufacturer of bondage leather goods — and some vegan-friendly materials for good measure — for serious kink play. Stiff posture collars, ball gags on stainless steel bits and marble-handled floggers fill out the company’s extensive collection of intense BDSM accessories.
Shaikh co-founded Rouge Garments with her husband 10 years ago, and though you’d never know it today, the company didn’t initially intend to cater to the kinky crowd.
“I was completely new to this industry when we set up Rouge back in 2012,” says Shaikh. “We sort of fell into this business by accident.”
Shaikh and her husband began manufacturing CDs and DVDs for both mainstream and adult video production in 1997. After fulfilling an adult retail client’s request to source leather harnesses, Shaikh and her husband were intrigued, seeing potential for new business opportunities.
“The leather was initially a sideline to what was our main line of business, CD and DVD manufacturing,” explains Shaikh. “We manufactured DVDs for some very well-known adult labels, and while I wouldn’t say we were familiar with the adult [products] industry, we were certainly aware of it. With the slow decline of DVD manufacturing, we thought we would try something different and start manufacturing leather bondage.”
That “something different” began small but soon grew to include multiple types of men’s leather kink wear.
“We started with a handful of male harnesses, trousers, and shorts, which we sold through very quickly, and decided to add more leather with the introduction of cuffs and collars, and it just took off from there,” says Shaikh. “We now have over 400 leather items in a wide range of colors and 125-plus items in our stainless-steel range, and we’ll be adding more in the upcoming months.”
Shaikh now runs the international boutique-style kink and leather company, where her title of co-founder and CEO extends far beyond sitting at the boss’s desk.
“I oversee a bit of everything, from sales, production, and marketing and procurement aid the general day-to-day running of the business,” says Shaikh. “It can be challenging at times, but I take great pride in my role and strive to maximize the business with huge satisfaction.”
Shaikh says that despite COVID’s many curve balls, her team ended 2021 on a high note with sales that exceeded the company’s targets. They’re looking forward to Rouge’s 10th-anniversary celebration this year, which will include new product launches and a search for the brand’s next staff superstars.
“Things were a little uncertain at the start of the pandemic, and like most people, we weren’t sure at all how it was going to affect the business, so we decided to sell PPE while we figured out what was going on,” says Shaikh of the worst of the COVID years. “But we are now back and fully focused on leather and stainless steel again. That’s where our heart is.”
“[COVID] did change the way we interact with our customers, as we couldn’t see people face to face and in this line of work, we really need the customer to be able to view the products in person,” Shaikh laments, “but we adapted as best as we could. Like everyone else, we jumped on the Zoom bandwagon, but are now very much looking forward to getting out there and seeing people face to face again.”
Now that Rouge Garments is fully back in the game, the company has returned to offering unique items. Stark black leather wristbands, fit for the most intimidating of dominants, cleverly hide zip-up wallets under their snaps and straps. Those who prefer a more novel look to the traditional spike collar will find Rouge’s version intriguing, as it employs rounded, less pokey nuts for a more “pet-friendly” approach — and by “pet,” we mean the human type. And for the vegans, of course, Rouge provides its best wrist and ankle cuff designs in rubber, with all the straps and metal you’d expect from superior BDSM design.
While Rouge Garments now caters to all genders and love styles, its roots in kink wear for men still show proudly. The company boasts of its latest design, the Pride Jock, a leather-front jockstrap emblazoned with rainbow elastic to hug the curves of the gluteus maximus. The O.T H-Front harness, a staple of Pride parades and gay BDSM gatherings, remains a fan favorite in both shiny black leather and leather camouflage. The brand even dedicates multiple pages on its website just for cock cages and straps. Weighted leather, hanging padlocks and leather straps lined with tiny pins ensure Rouge Garments appeals to all fans of gay kink play.
“We’re looking forward to 2022 and celebrating our 10th anniversary with lots of exciting new products in the pipeline,” Shaikh said.
Most of all, Shaikh is endlessly grateful for the life and lifestyle that her career in the pleasure products space has enabled her to pursue and enjoy.
“I love everything about this industry,” says Shaikh. “You wouldn’t get to travel the world with many jobs. This industry has given me the opportunity to travel to some beautiful places and meet some amazing people along the way. It has also given us the opportunity to help people explore their sexual bondage fantasies by producing quality, safe and durable handmade leather items.”