Our Survey Asked – How Does Latex Make You Feel?

Westward Bound was born amongst the London punk scene of the 1970s. From the beginning, we saw latex as something transgressive: latex is high-fashion, with a high end appeal. There has, however, always been somewhat of a divide between latex worn for fashion reasons and latex worn for fetish reasons, or as part of a subculture. While these two things clearly can work side by side, we were interested in looking a little more deeply at exactly why people today are wearing latex.

We surveyed 750 of our customers to discover exactly how they feel. Of those surveyed, 63% were men, and most surveyed (39%) were aged 24-34, followed by 32% aged 35-44. We wanted to know why our customers were attracted to the latex subculture, and how latex makes them feel.


Photographer: Nath-Sakura – Model: Romanie Smith

The appeal of latex

To get things started, we asked the simple question “what is the biggest appeal when it comes to latex?”. We found;

  • 42% said feeling sexy.
  • 20% said feeling confident.
  • 19% simply liked the way they looked in it.
  • 6% said the community itself was the appeal.

When looking at these statistics, we can see that overall 62% of people stated the key appeal of latex was based on how it made them feel.

While the appeal is focused less on the community itself and more on people feeling sexy, confident, and enjoying the way they look and feel in latex, the latex community is viewed and experienced in a positive way. One customer surveyed told us;


Latex made me very positive about my body. I may not be a model, but the compliments from other latex enthusiasts made me feel like one.”

Despite the ‘seedy’ stigma that has unfortunately latched itself onto the latex community, we found people are wearing latex for overwhelmingly positive reasons: latex gives both men and women a boost of confidence, along with a fierce sense of power and control. Not only this, but the latex community itself contributes to the confidence of others — we are welcoming, complimentary of others and fantastically body positive!


Photographer: Nath-Sakura – Model: Romanie Smith

Why do people wear latex clothing?

Once we’d confirmed the appeal of latex, we wanted to delve a little deeper into how people feel about latex overall. Why are people wearing latex, and is it focussed simply on personal confidence or is there an element of dressing up for other people involved?


Perhaps unsurprisingly, after looking into the appeal of latex, we found 71% of those surveyed said the latex subculture made them feel confident. Interestingly, only 16% of those asked said wearing latex was something they did for their partner.  This shows that while the fetish element of latex is present, it is vastly overpowered by people wearing latex for themselves and for self expression.


People involved in the latex community use something subversive, transgressive and exciting to make themselves feel great, proving once again that latex is both affirming and empowering in its nature. People are choosing to dress in latex for themselves, not for other people, and are feeling powerful from the sense of control and confidence that latex brings.  


While it seems clear that most people don’t wear latex purely for the benefit of others, there is of course an inherent element of attention brought by latex clothing. The positivity this brings can also be a huge plus point for latex clothing wearers, with one customer telling us;

“Every time I wear latex in public, it feels like an adventure. People walk up to me, compliment me, ask if they can take a picture with me, where did I get my latex from, how to take care of it, and even if they can touch my clothing (to which I welcome them with open arms, literally). For a person who’s always tried to stay under the radar, being the focus of so much positive attention is amazing.”


Photographer: Nath-Sakura – Model: Sister Sinister

The latex subculture and escapism

It has also become clear that latex, and the whole latex subculture, is used as a source of escapism — a chance to switch off to the world around us. Wearing latex evokes such powerful feelings that, in the moment, people feel truly carefree;


“It makes me feel androgynous, less like a human susceptible to all my negative emotions.”


This idea of escapism intrigued us, and allowed us to look a little closer into the idea of latex as a subculture vs latex in the mainstream. A huge 80% of those we surveyed said the latex community gave them a way of expressing themselves they’d never find in the mainstream. A subculture, or community, provides a safe, inclusive space where people can express themselves without fear of judgement or ridicule. Knowing you are truly free to express yourself is a huge appeal of latex, as one customer told us;  


“I find latex massively empowering, I’m trans / gender-fluid and the designs and material are perfect for feeling strong, feminine and sexy. I’ve always loved latex for as long as I can remember, I see it as a future fabric, somehow sci-fi otherworldly — it’s just awesome”


Photographer: Nath-Sakura – Model: Romanie Smith


Latex and the mainstream

So, does a move into the mainstream take away from the inclusive feel of the established latex community? With celebrities such as Kim Kardashian stepping out in latex dresses for recent events, we were interested in whether our customers viewed a move into a more conventional culture as a negative thing.


61% of those surveyed believed that Kim K wearing latex showed it was moving mainstream, with a further 39% arguing that figures like Kim K don’t understand latex or the culture. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian can be viewed as somewhat imposters in the community — they are taking the fashion aspect of latex without knowledge of the subculture, or of the roots of the latex scene. Another latex wearing celebrity, Lady Gaga, takes her inspirations from the club-kid NYC drag scene, begging the question; does an understanding of the background and culture of latex give a person more of a right to wear it?


For us, it’s a bit of both. Latex is fun, and can definitely be a powerful fashion statement for anyone that desires to wear it. However, the roots and latex subculture should never be forgotten — as we can clearly see from the results of our survey, for many people latex isn’t a one time statement, but a strong part of identity and personal empowerment.


Latex is fashionable, and mainstream coverage can attract welcome newcomers who are curious about the industry. The latex subculture also holds strong roots, and the community is a safe and inclusive space for like minded individuals. In our experience these two things can, and do, work side by side.


For latex rubber clothing with a high fashion edge, be sure to explore the full women’s latex clothing and men’s latex clothing collections at Westward Bound.

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