Every kinkster is different. Some fetishize materials like leather or rubber and some like certain activities like piss play or bondage. Some like both or all and some only like a part of one or the other. Essentially, everyone has a unique relationship with their fetishes. As a leather fetishist, have you thought about your relationship with leather? Do you enjoy it for the smell, the feel, the leather community culture or is it something else? Young, gay, British student Oliver Link is asking just that. Working on his Master’s degree in Fashion and Business at the Manchester Fashion Institute, part of Manchester Metropolitan University, Oliver is asking members of the leather community to participate in his research about the relationship folks in the community have with leather. His research is rooted in questions about the sustainability of the leather scene as younger generations are shifting interests towards ‘vegan’ fashion. Oliver claims that “a common opinion amongst scholars is that the leather subculture is actually disappearing, something the leather community actually rejects” and “many say it is simply evolving and modernizing” as so many younger folks, newer to the scene, have different values and interests.
Is the leather fetish community at risk of losing strength and size? Link says “industry analysis and research tell us that consumers, particularly younger generations, are increasingly sustainable in their consumption” and “accounts from many fetish events also report that younger consumers are more frequently entering the scene and diversifying cultures with modern ideologies.” This leaves a big question mark around what effect this could have on the leather community as leather is an animal-made product. Is there room for ‘vegan’ leather as a more sustainable option?
The problem with sustainability is not so clear cut though. Link previously gathered information on more sustainable ‘vegan’ leathers, to investigate this comparison, but soon discovered thatmany of these materials are often plastic–based (PVC or PU) and in fact, not more sustainable and instead can be quite damaging in their production processes compared to many of those of natural materials. The problem he discovered is that the term ‘vegan’ is being used to greenwash consumers.Getting folks to believe a product is better for the environment is a commercial trick many brands use to take advantage of a hopeful population.
This discovery leads Link into his latest research endeavor; to better understandhow this new culture of sustainability could impact the modern–day leather scene.With this research, he is hoping to better understand the leather fetishist’s relationship with leather, whether this differs by age group and “attitudes to synthetic leather from a culture that is primarily built around leather material.” He is asking if leather folks are interested in sustainability and are they interested in traditional iconography in models and advertising/social media for their leather brands. He is hoping that the data collected will support or disprove theories on the sustainability of the leather fetish subculture.
For this reason, he is asking WINGS to reach out to you, the leather community, to share your thoughts and feelings about leather and the leather scene. By contributing to this study, you can help others better understand what your interest and needs are, as a leather kinkster and community member.