Riding a spaceship named Kurage
Text by Rei Hourong
Special Thanks Kid’O & Kurage
Rubber is a material that has undergone great changes due to the spread of the Internet and the advancement of technology. AZZLO, a store selling authentic imported rubber wear in Japan, closed in 2000. Four years later, Kurage & Gummiba, the predecessor of Kurage, opened in Nishi-Ikebukuro in Japan. Kurage & Gummiba is the only shop in Japan that offers original Latex wear designs that can be fully ordered. Then, in 2012, it took the helm as “Kurage”. Kurage’s activities have been diverse, both in Japan and abroad, and they have established a position as the go-to brand for rubber in Japan. In this interview, we talk with Kurage’s designer Kid’O about various topics.
I founded “Kurage” at 35. This year, 2022, will be its 18th year. Based on my age, it may seem that I had a late start, but I have constantly made things since I was child, and I’ve known since my teens that this is something I would do. It started as a select import shop.
When I was in Cologne, Germany to buy imports, the owner of a fetish shop had said “Why don’t you make it out of latex?” I also thought “oh, yeah.” I’ve never bought latex clothing for myself, and at the time when I looked at latex clothing, they were not made very well.
So, I thought I could do it better myself. That was the beginning of Kurage.
My fashion has always been influenced by music.
I have listened to rock music like KISS and western music like ABBA and JAPAN(David Sylvian) a variety of different genres and artists.
since I was in elementary school. When I was 12 my friend’s sister had invited me to a “Stray Cats” concert at Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo, 1981.
It made quite the impact on me. It was a time when we didn’t have the Internet like we do now, I wanted to imitate their style, so I collected their music and records.
Anyway, I watched a lot of movies such as “Grease”, “American Graffiti”, and “Growing up”. The week after the concert, I joined the Rockabilly Club in Harajuku and danced around with my hair in Regent style and wore a leather jacket.
In my early teens, I was completely into Rockabilly.
Then I started going to clubs and was exposed to a variety of fashion styles and materials. I spent my 20s with hippies in India. All these different experiences have made me who I am today. It was like the music and cultures were coming in and accumulating.
It’s not that I wasn’t listening to the old stuff anymore, it’s just that my world was expanding. I had a lot of friends who were into various genres, I absorbed and learned as much as I could of what was cool and interesting.
Malcolm McLaren may have been the first person who introduced latex to me. I loved his clothes and music. Back then, I used to play around wearing my World’s End clothing then.
This led me to “SEX” boutique and “SEDITIONARIES Bondage Style” clothing by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, and working with materials such as latex.
That’s why it was no big surprise that latex would be the primary material when I launched Kurage, and it didn’t really feel like anything different. To me, I feel fetishism when image, sound, and the space all mesh together. Latex and bondage have always been a part of fashion. The sound just naturally comes along with it. I have no interest in fetishes or eroticism without it.
Why latex? With latex, you can do anything from fashion to BDSM, fetishism to art, inflatables to fits. It can be sexy ,kawaii, dark, pop, traditional, futuristic, speculative, and on and on. Latex is the only material in the world that can express everything.
It works and moves my imagination like magic.
What I value most is the collective nature. In my shows, there are many models. There is something about a group, or rather, a gathering of like-minded individuals, that I feel.
There’s a sense of dread that comes from being in a group, or an unfamiliar atmosphere. Even the Japanese “Awa Odori” is a fetish in this sense. I’m still pretty confident in myself about the potential of rubber. I’m always thinking of possible ways of applying it in reality. But to be honest, I don’t have much of an attachment to what I have created in the past. I know I can do more now, and I’m still not completely satisfied. I feel I’ve only reached 10% of what I want to do. There are things I understand from making them, but it’s more of a learning experience, not a masterpiece. It’s not even close to being a masterpiece. I’m not interested in masturbatory shows to stroke my ego or looking for approval by proclaiming “Look at my outfit!” or, “Look at my skills!” Having people who happen to be there saying, “What’s this? I’ve never seen this before, it’s great,” is good enough for me.
I’ve gained experience, so I feel like it’s finally time to start creating the utopia I originally set out to. I’m thinking of working toward a Kurage tribe show based on the concept of imagining a small village called Kurage.
I’m always looking inside myself to find where I will land in the end. What would satisfy me? I think especially about scenes from movies, manga, and other media that surprised me or made me feel sexual attraction for the first time when I was a child.
A lot of those have stayed stuck in my head. For example, some of Kurage’s hoods have no mouth. This is inspired by Maetel, a character from an older anime called Galaxy Express 999. She was the first character I ever felt sexually attracted to in an adult way. This look comes from the way her eyes are so big, but her mouth is only a line.
I find and incorporate elements that I have seen, heard, and experienced that I think are good, regardless of genre, and put my own spin on them. Of course, tastes change over time, so the designs change along with those. I call it “design,” but I don’t actually draw any designs. I just start with building parts for different ideas I want to express and try to maintain a balance as I put the whole thing together. So even I don’t know what it’s going to be until it’s finished.
One of my fetishes is the world created by Peter W. Czernich. It has a big influence on my work.
It was his early work “Rubber Sports” that first struck me in amazement, but it wasn’t unJl the “Fetish Academy 3” that really inspired me to work with latex. The military nature and the cold gaze peeking from the masks shocked and excited me.
For example, in the world of reggae, artists are still using old rhythm tracks to create new sounds, and young bands are inviting great artists of the past to join music sessions. There is a sense of respect there. Similarly, it had been my dream and aspiration to work with Peter and to have my work published in his books. And when I first opened my doors, I never imagined that we would be working together today. Rather than dismissing the old as “old school,” we incorporate it in the design and create something new.
When Kurage is introduced abroad it is said, “Kurage picked up ancient and traditional elements and created something brand new.”
I think that is why it is well received overseas. There are many reasons why I really started my own brand, but if it weren’t for Peter there would have been no KURAGE.
One of my favourite rubber brands is Sebastian Cauchos. I like that his work is not commercially based, but has a clear idea of what he wanted to do. I also liked Absolute Danny and Schwarze Mode. I especially liked the stitching and tailor work in Schwarze Mode. Also, the early work of Inner Sanctum.
One of the ways that Kurage has gained a cult following and popularity over the years is through being a part of a number of extravagantly styled fashion shows.
Since 2010, the oldest fetish event in Japan “Department H” began hosting a “Rubber Festival” every May. The showcase began with Saeborg (https:// saeborg.com ) as the main focus, but without it I don’t think it would have been possible to hold a show overseas.
Each time it got bigger and bigger. I did all the preparation, progression planning, presentation, meeting with the performers, video and sound editing by myself. It did not always go to plan, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience. There are no events in Japan that have a full- scale stage like that. This COVID-19 disaster has taken a toll on events. I hope that the world overcomes it and that more events will be held soon. Events can influence the younger generaJon in many ways. It can also be the spark that starts something new. Because we are moving forward, the past is coming alive. I also like the traditional style of LATEX and I would like to mix it well into today’s designs and create a new environment with young people. That’s where it starts, because the times are changing rapidly.
The pandemic has got me thinking that I’m old, and I’m going to get older. When you drive in the countryside, you see those freaky houses decorated with scarecrows and such. That’s where I think I’ll end up. I can imagine myself becoming a crazy old man. Doing what I want to do is natural, but in order to do that, I need to support myself financially. No one is going to help me with that. I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I can’t go abroad due to the pandemic. So, this might just be the right time to build that financial base.
Kurage is like a spaceship. It’s my ideal world that I strive to reach. To achieve this goal, there will be many detours, but I never stay in one place. Along the way, some people get on, some people get off, and the next destination point changes. In order to get to the next planet, we will need to refuel, and the aircraft will wear down over time. It will be necessary to stop for repairs and recovery. Now is that time.
Kurage Latex Designer / Kid’O
Designer at Ikebukuro Kurage. Specialising in latex art. Also designer for fashion magazines, advertisements, and music videos. Consecutive recipient of “Best Fetish Fashion Designer” Award at “The European Fetish Awards” in 2015 and 2016. Amazingly skilled creative with a unique sense for design and fans all over the world.
Kurage: Specialising in Latex art
Latex Haute-Couture Quality Latex Clothing made in JAPAN. beGLOSS Japanese agency
●Shop Adress Tokyo Hakuyo Excellency 1F 2-20-6 Ikebukuro Toshima-ku 171-0014 Tokyo Japan
●Opening Time 13-18 hr. Shop closed Tuesday
OFFICIAL WEB WWW.KURAGE .TOKYO
Skin Two is still a clothing brand based in England. Find original Skin Two designs at