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Many of the trends we wear today are influenced by the sexual culture of the BDSM. And no, the trigger has not been ‘Fifty Shadows of Grey‘.

Not only rave, punk or gothic tribes have inspired the designers. Throughout history, many fashion brands have dived into the aesthetics of the sexual subculture to find references to embody in their designs. BDSM (Bondage, Discipline/Domination, Sadism and Masochism) has been the sexual practice that has most influenced fashion until today. So, although it may not seem like it, many of the trends we wear today have their origin in these erotic fantasies.

It is necessary to get rid of the idea that the fashion that drinks from the BDSM aesthetic is vulgar, ordinary or coarse. Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood or Balmain have elegantly echoed the bondage style, stripping rancid conventions assigned to a sexual fetish. Jean-Paul Gautier also did the same with Madonna and her 80s and 90s corsets that have become an icon.

But the reference has not only been reduced to the elitism of the catwalk or the pop stars who broke schemes decades ago. Today, a large percentage of our prototypes of the world of fashion come from celebrities and instagramers, to whom this influence has also reached (whether they know it or not) and they have shared it with the world, consolidating an aesthetic that survives latently, without explicitness.

As could not be otherwise, the Kardashians are the great ambassadors. The shooting Kyle Jenner did when he came of age adopts an undeniable bondage style. And Kim‘s latex dresses, of course, need no explanation.

But there’s much more to it than the latex and leather suits that come to mind when we think of BDSM’s influence on fashion. The choker that a couple of years ago occupied the top of trends, the PVC heels or the bathing suits with straps that Ashley Graham presented last year do not escape a direct relationship with the culture of bondage and sexual sadomasochism.

All this stems from a fetish subculture and underground sex clubs that for years have been renounced by society and branded as shameful. The aesthetics of other subcultures such as punk or emo have political or social connotations: they embody a vindicative rebellion that, in some way, makes it licit and even venerable to adopt the tendencies of that identity on the part of fashion.

But the same is not true of the BDSM and its purely sexual and certainly problematic background – today, this practice gives rise to debates as to whether it is a patriarchal and macho dynamic sweetened by aesthetics or whether it is simply sexual freedom and disinhibition. The taboo remains. And it is the taboo, and not sex, that makes this aesthetic something extremely attractive and hypnotic for fashion.