I love it, everything is so tight
A sexy woman tailors latex fashion – from wedding dresses to underpants. Dominas and the woman next door come to the “Savage Store” in Berlin.
A sexy woman, is latex a fetish?
Yes, of course. Latex is a fetish. Just like many other things. But we do not make the full rubber suits with mask, but above all beautiful party clothes. Less the things to play with. Although, we also have nurse costumes and we have many dominatrix as regular customers. Yes.
Latex is certainly one of the most unusual materials for clothing.
I myself love to wear latex, it all fits so tightly. Like a second skin, they say so beautifully. You have to try it out!
Okay, I’ll do that at the end of our conversation.
Many are afraid that you will see every kilo too much, but I think the opposite is the case, latex brings out the body and gives it the right shape. And it just has a special attraction. People come into this shop and say: Oah, how good it smells, how it feels!
We’ll definitely continue straight away. But first: how did you end up in Berlin?
I’m from Finland, I’ve lived in Helsinki for the past four years. It was nice there too, but kind of small. So it wasn’t that bad to come to Berlin. I met a man from Berlin and moved here. Today he is my business partner.
Are you a trained seamstress?
I studied clothing technology in Lahti, 100 kilometers from Helsinki. You learn everything there: sewing, making patterns, working with different fabrics. Just no latex, of course. That came later.
Exactly. I didn’t speak any German yet, so at least not really. The little bit from high school was enough for hello and goodbye. But I had no money and had to work something. My boyfriend at the time had the idea: Make latex.
Of course, what else.
It wasn’t so far for me. At that time I already had a few latex clothes myself, only dipped ones, nothing of high quality, at that time I didn’t know my way around very well. But I wore the clothes to go out.
Naturally. I have to say, I never go to the normal clubs. I can not do this. People don’t particularly dress there at all. For me, it’s part of the party and dancing. I would never go to a party in jeans and a t-shirt.
Is latex a part of going out for you?
In any case. But I also have to say that because I work with latex every day, I no longer have a big fetish for it myself. It just became a material. Not so exciting anymore. Unfortunately.
How did you start with latex tailoring?
First I did an internship and learned the basics. I taught myself the rest. I made the first things for myself. And how was the way to this shop then? It was certainly not the case that Berlin was waiting for you to come from Finland and finally tailor latex clothes.
Somehow it is. When I started there wasn’t that much. More for gay men, but not so fancy things for women. And Berlin is a good place for that. Usually, without Corona, there are many events here in clubs like Kitkat and Insomnia and with big parties like the German Fetish Ball and Wasteland. Then people from all over Germany and the world come looking for new outfits.
No parties, no clubs, the dominatrix studios were closed for a long time – it’s a bad time for latex and fetish, right? I can only speak for myself. We have fewer customers in the store, but just as much is going on online as before. Maybe people just buy something special because they can’t go on vacation and make themselves nice at home.
I would like to continue talking about the material. Most people probably didn’t have anything made of latex on their bodies apart from a condom.
It’s correct. But can we delve a little more into the mystery of latex?
Let’s start with the manufacturing process: Gloves are dipped, i.e. a mold is molded in liquid latex, it wouldn’t be any different with the many curves. But things like I do are only glued. So now not with an owl or something. There is a special latex adhesive and it really lasts.
In principle, latex is rubber …
Yes, but there is rubber made from natural rubber and from petroleum. We use sheets made of natural rubber.
Oh, is that actually a natural material? It doesn’t look like it at all.
Indeed. The tracks themselves are of course mostly manufactured industrially. But we also make things from hand-cast latex, which is even more individual, but not so easy to work with.
Latex is not breathable …
It always comes first from people who have no idea: “But you sweat in there …” Yes, of course, you sweat. But you don’t really notice that because it’s so tight. And it doesn’t feel like a wet t-shirt. The skin gets moist, maybe even sweat comes out, but it’s not a disgusting feeling.
What money do I have to bring with me if I want a latex dress?
Such a basic dress without sleeves from 200 euros, the very unusual outfits 2,000 euros or more. There is actually no upper limit. It depends on how many stripes, eyelets and buckles you want on it. It’s all hand glued.
The latex dresses as they hang here in the shop seem to me above all to showcase the advantages of slim women …
No It’s not just for slim women, not at all. I’ve already said that. It’s just that the more someone weighs, the more individual a body becomes. That’s why I always make custom-made items for larger sizes. It just looks better then.
Is latex something for every woman?
No. It is for women who feel good in their bodies. If you wear an S but are totally critical with your body, a skin-tight latex outfit is definitely not the right thing.
What kind of women are those who come to your shop?
Some of them come for work, so to speak, because they work as dominatrix. Of course, they often need something new. But also just normal people. There is not the typical woman I think, oh, who definitely wears latex.
Do you notice if someone is coming for the first time?
If someone wants to try something on, I ask if it’s the first time. And if so, then I will explain. It’s not like wearing latex like normal clothes. And you shouldn’t start with latex leggings right away.
Oh I see?
Leggings are the heaviest. It takes 10 minutes to get dressed if you have no experience. You mustn’t put your fingernails in there, of course. Stretch over a large area, otherwise it may tear. And you have to pull it up evenly, gently from top to bottom. If you still have wrinkles at the bottom, you can’t get them out. It works better at home, because you can oil the things before wearing them. We only powder here, otherwise we would have to wash the things over and over again.
Can you wash latex?
You even have to. After wearing, the oil and sweat have to go down, there is an extra latex detergent for this. Then let it dry well and powder it for storage. Definitely in the dark, otherwise it will be dull like rubber. And then wash and oil again before wearing it again.
Phew, that sounds like a lot of work.
If you wear the outfit as a dominatrix every other day, of course you don’t. But if you wear it to a party once a month, it’s practically part of going out.
What do the people who order bespoke items want?
For women, it’s the classic catsuits or dresses, often combinations of existing designs or with special colors – neon pink or something. I’ve also made a red latex wedding dress and a huge octopus costume. For men there are also doll clothes with lots of puffs and bows. Of course, women’s clothes for men always have to be custom-made, of course.
Do you ask people what they use the clothes for?
Which does not concern me.
And when a man comes and says I want a doll dress, you think: Sure, then he’ll get a doll dress?
The men are often a bit shy and say: It might be a bit strange if I want to try on a woman’s dress. But for us it’s nothing special at all.
Are there any customer requests that surprise you?
Hmm I approach it differently. For me there are only the following questions: How can I implement this, where do I glue what. For example, if someone comes and wants a superhero outfit from a drawn comic, in which everything holds with only two stripes, I have to look in real life to see how it works with transparent latex, for example.
Men also come and say I want my wife to wear something like that …
Yes there is. But if the woman doesn’t like it, it won’t work. Incidentally, there are also men who say my wife is dominant and wants me to wear latex underwear.
Is latex clothing a disguise?
It can be, yes. Especially with the superhero things that are worn at conventions.
I mean that in the sense of: being someone you are not otherwise.
I do not think so, no. For the women and men who wear latex, that’s part of their style.
But clothes do something with personality.
As a woman you feel very feminine. It may well be that you move differently. I can’t say that well because it’s normal for me. Maybe you feel braver. When men come into the store without anything made of latex and buy a skirt, I think that’s great. But only the brave do that.
Do you encounter your own creations when you go out?
Often, really often at the big parties. It’s like hearing your own song on the radio.
And what do your parents say about your work?
For a long time my mother thought I was making sex clothes. I then explained that to her and I think she understood that it is mainly party and nightlife fashion. At some point she said: These are really nice designs, but that would be even nicer if you made it out of fabric …
Under no circumstance. There is only latex here.
Manuela Heim is an editor at taz Berlin and has kept her promise to try something made of latex after the interview. But no leggings.
Sophie Kirchner is a photographer in Berlin and is happy that there are not only hipster cafés here, but also individual shops.