clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Making Latex Clothing Is Way More Complicated Than It Looks

Designer Kirsten Li explains the finicky fabric.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Rubber isn’t a material you’d typically describe as “delicate and sensual.” But designer Kirsten Li is innovating with latex, taking a fabric typically associated with BDSM and the kink community and turning it into high-end creations.

It’s not as easy as people might assume. “It’s kind of a fickle material,” she says. Synthetic latex can be made through a chemical process, but latex is naturally occurring, originating as sap from rubber trees. It’s harvested in a process similar to that for maple syrup.

That makes it a “green” material, but also a biodegradable one that doesn’t necessarily hold up the way people expect. “Oils disintegrate it. Metals will stain it. Sunlight will chalk it,” says Li. “As latex [garments] age, they get gummier and gummier, and they will eventually turn back to sap.”

Follow Racked on YouTube for more videos | Like Racked on Facebook to never miss a video