Blog Putting the Leather in

Putting the Leather in – Leather | BDSM | Fetish

Most of us know a little about leather and the role it plays within the gay community. In a time when many of the gay subcultures are slowly disappearing, what you might not know is just how welcoming the leather community actually is and and that it’s making a comeback. If you are like us at XPLCIT, your knowledge on the subject could do with a brush-up. We knew there was more to it than wearing a leather harness out to a dance party on a Saturday night and that there was a lot of history, so our sense of adventure compelled us to dive into the world leather to see what the enthusiasm was all about.

The leather scene started around the end of WWII in the 40s as motorcycle clubs with the first gay leather bar not opening until the late 50s in Chicago. It started as a kind of rebellion against a very public perception of what was at the time a stereotypical image that all gay people were effeminate. This promotion of masculine independence also purposely went against the grain of what was the more organised part of the gay community that encompassed cultural products of aesthetic value (think musical theatre and art shows) as the centrepiece in their lives. This was usually accompanied with a camp style, and the disaffection between the groups was part of what helped the leather community grow out of the motor clubs and into the bars. It wasn’t until a little later that these bars became a place of exploration for kink and S&M that really put the leather scene on the map.

Tom of Finland, created by Finnish artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, was iconic during the emergence of the leather scene and is still popular with collectors today.

As BDSM grew in popularity, many of those in the leather community attached the two subcultures as going hand in hand, others however, although they may have enjoyed the sensory experience of wearing leather, did not associate it with BDSM and kept with the traditions that the scene was founded on.

We spoke to a group of guys with a varied interest and exposure to the leather scene to get their thoughts on the community now and where they thought it was was headed in the future. Cooper grew up in Brisbane and is just starting to explore the leather scene admitting that it is very different to what he once thought.

When Cooper first came out and started to explore this new world of gay with all its kinks and fetishes, his assumptions about the leather scene was somewhat misguided. At the time he automatically associated it with the more traditional stereotype of the masculinity attached to the leather-men of the 70s and 80s which he found both intimidating and scary at the time. Over the years though Cooper has realised that although there is still a very masculine aspect to it, there is also a very warm and welcoming side which is in part helped by a new generation filled with energy coming through.

Brendan lives in London and shared a very similar story about being a late bloomer who it came to Leather. He started exploring a lot of different fetishes and began buying small leather pieces. Over time as Brendan explored the different scenes he enjoys going to different leather events but doesn’t consider himself fully part of the community.

Billy from Melbourne spoke to us about his experiences with becoming part of the leather community recently. He found that because the scene seemed like such a small close-nit group it was tough for him to build up the courage to try and break the ice but was surprised at how welcoming they were. Matt, who lives in Sydney, had a similar story when asked why it took him years to fully embrace the leather scene. The whole group had the same advice to pass on to those that were new or wanting to explore the leather scene. Don’t be shy!

Speaking to the group further, we wanted to know what leather they owned or had collected over the years and their experiences on how easy or hard it had been to find the perfect harness. Cooper had always borrowed a leather harness from a friend to wear out to selective events and said he never really considered himself apart of the leather community. However having bought a couple of leather harnesses recently and listening to what the others in the group had to say, he said that he saw now that it he realises now hat anyone can be part of the community whether you borrow leather or own many pieces.

It is all about having that appreciation for leather and enjoying all or some of what it has to offer . Matt and Billy were both in agreement and that and comes down to how the person feels and them wanting to be included. Matt adds that although it’s great that some people wear leather as a fashion piece to parties he feels sometimes they need to be more mindful of others who wear it for more than the fashion side.

Whether you are looking for a leather harness to buy as a fashion piece to use occasionally or for something long term to be worn often, all four guys agreed that from their experience it could sometimes be confusing when confronted with all the different styles available out there. At XPLCIT we know first hand how daunting it can seem as there are so many different types of leather, styles and thicknesses, but it doesn’t have to be.

The best way by far, whether you are a first time buyer or a serious collector, is to try them on. Leather will not feel exactly the same every time, even if it is supplied from the same place. By trying it on you can touch and feel the product and make sure it is exactly what you want. Leather can be expensive and should be viewed as an investment and when cared for properly they will last years. This is the part Brendan adds is so important to talk to a professional as they can show you how to properly maintain and care for your new leather to get the proper life out of it.

Billy now owns almost a dozen pieces of leather and says price can usually be a good indication of what you are getting. Similar to buying a pair of jeans, you wouldn’t expect a $40 pair to last and look the same as a $140 pair after a year. When it comes to choosing the right harness Matt says it really comes down to personal preference and it should be a fun experience and not stressful. He adds that it definitely pays to have professional help with choosing the right one and getting it fitted correctly and when you find the right one you will know.

When buying his first harness Cooper said his biggest struggle was realising that the word ‘quality’ is overused and that not all ‘quality leather harnesses’ were the same. It pays to always go with your gut feeling and he advices that you to take your time and not to get disheartened if you don’t find the right one straight away. Brendan, a self described ‘hairy bear’, stresses the importance of having someone there while looking at the different types of harnesses, as sometimes it can be difficult to find one to suit some body types. But he too agrees when you find the right one you will know it as you will radiate confidence and feel sexy.

The only point of difference between the guys was when it came to choosing a colour. That is a subject for another blog but at XPLCIT we think it’s best when you go with the colour that makes you feel a stronger, more confident version of yourself.

After speaking to the group and others in the community, it’s heartwarming to see that some in this younger generation coming through are committed to keeping the original traditions alive as it’s important to always remember our history and the vital role these groups and subcultures played in the progress of our civil rights. Passing these stories on from generation to generation is vital to continuing the fight for equality, especially in countries that are still so far from achieving what Australia and others have in recent years. It is also equally important to allow for the evolution of our communities and not discount new ideas that can breathe life into the scene. We need to encourage and not marginalise these newcomers as they are crucial for the survival of our scene.

So remember when it comes to leather, whether it is your first purchase or not, speak to the experts and book an appointment with XPLCIT at www.xplcitassist.com . It’s important to take your time, try the product on and get a feel for the fit and style. Try the different styles available and don’t be shy to step outside your comfort zone a little. Care for your leather properly and it will last you years. And if you are new to the leather scene and looking for like minded people, get on social media and search for groups in your capital city. They are out there and are very welcoming! If you are in Sydney check out The Hide on Facebook, and some of the great events going on like Extra Dirty  Outkast  Trough  DILF  The Sydney Hellfire ClubFor some of the events in Melbourne check out Code Black  Hellfire  Trough  and the events page over at  The Laird Hotel.

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