My latest adventure following clothing to its source took me to a remote corner of northeastern Brazil, where some Swiss expats started Fetisso, a manufacturer of kinky fetish-wear made from latex that drips from towering rubber trees. I was prepared to find a story all about power. Rubber, after all, has driven greedy imperialists throughout history – some of them terrifyingly brutal. (Perhaps you remember Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now? Colonel Kurtz was based on a leader in King Leopold’s Belgian Congo, essentially a rubber colony.) I was indeed impressed by the power of Fetisso’s latex, but it was not what I expected. It was actually sort of beautiful. Yes, that’s a horse-hoof glove I’m holding (above), for men who like to be ridden, equestrian-style. While it’s not really my thing, I find it amazing that a market for such an accessory exists (in four sizes!), and that Fetisso’s founders have tapped into it to realize a utopian vision of work and play.
Co-founders Fritz, Willi, and René started their brand about 20 years ago, and have created a semi-socialist cooperative/commune on a knockout piece of beachside property that’s hours from the nearest strip mall. Willi told me all about his deep-seeded (argh!) rubber fetish, which he struggled with for years before he finally figured, well f— it, and started to experiment manufacturing the sorts of clothes that turn him on. Now they’ve got about 20 employee-partners, some of whom have been with the company for 15 years, a healthy little business, and lots of fans — like porn star Paris Kennedy, pictured below in her favorite Fetisso leggings. Read about how latex transforms from tree sap to spanking-tight fetishwear in the latest issue of VICE. You can pick it up for free at American Apparel, subscribe, or read it HERE!