• Dark says:

    This could only be the result of the sagging economy and the fact that fetish purchases are luxury items and people are pulling back from spending. The vendors pulled out because they couldn’t afford the loss.

    If consumers are not spending in general, and they’re not as surveys show, but paying off debt and setting up rainy day funds only the most committed will spend for fetish items.

    I doubt whether this pull back in spending is due to saturation. The demand seems to have been growing as evidence by all the new companies emerging and the offerings they have. But there seems to have been little downward pressure in pricing by the supposed competition that new players entering the market were supposed to create. There are sales, and there is a concerted effort to demonize the Asian makers for doing what they have been doing for 50 years – introducing very inexpensive products, often copied and drawing off sales from western based companies. I’d bet that they wouldn’t even be invited to participate at such an event.

    I expect to see a lot of companies falter because of the economy and the fetish sector shrink in size as people have less and less disposable income. Fewer people will take on the expense to travel to the events as well and the scene will become more local with the international component sustained mostly on the WWW. Events will be canceled as attendance drops.

    I also expect to see fetish more in the mainstream media used as “shiny object” no pun intended, to attract market share in an increasingly competitive environment. This trend began before the economy tanked, but it will accelerate as the media pulls out whatever stops the can to make the cash register ring. The products don’t cost consumers much, and the revenue streams are often from advertisers anyway. The music industry is pretty much finished as we knew it.

    If the does come to pass it will demonstrate how much of what we do is driven by the consumer economy and how that shapes what we buy and use to form our self image. Edward Bernays understood this very well and is know as the father of public relations and marketing and using our self image to motivate our spending.

    This is not a good development.

  • 3xL says:

    I’m tired of all this rivalry in the fetish scene.

    The real losers is the pervy party people. Too many events and to few people. DE or UK, same thing.

    I rather go to one big event every year, than three mediocre ones!

  • Observer says:

    I agree 3XL – rivalries have hurt the scene in Montreal and (to a lesser level) Ottawa as well… :(

  • salamander says:

    unfortunately i think the rivalry becomes accentuated by the fact that in a small scene, there’s a lot more room for large egos to flourish.

    the LFW and SK2 thing goes back to Tony Mitchell being fired unceremoniously by Tim Woodward (he found out he was fired from other people, apparently). So tony set up his own thing (LFW), which i really do think is more of an accommodating and open venture – much friendlier, and less egotistical!

    And i have to say, i think this is exacerbated by the 2007 fiasco. the SkinTwo ExCel expo promised designers a stampede of customers, and childishly rubbished the alternative (i should know, i was pitched to!) but was an unmitigated disaster – losing vendors thousands – while the Xpo was a relative success (albeit not as much as it should have been). The split in the attendees robbed either expo of as many as it would need to be completely viable, and the fracture hasn’t healed, so understandably the vendors are wary (especially given the trying times).

    really sad :( .

    I kind of wish tim woodward would just give up the ghost.

  • salamander says:

    just to clarify on the last comment: i’ve had some dealings with Tim Woodward, and none have been enjoyable. In fact, i don’t know many who have had an enjoyable experience of dealing with him…

    He rubbed a LOT of people the wrong way with the 2007 skintwo expo (and effectively swindled people out of thousands and thousands of pounds for the sake of his own ego, rather than graciously take a step back). He’s run the magazine into the ground – failing to even publish the skin2 rubber ball edition BEFORE the 2007 ball, and angering many many advertisers who had taken out space on the promise that it would be. Yet still he had the audacity to claim each missed issue a victory, and the final stage of combining them into one publishable yearbook as a “triumph” (rather than simply a failure to run a magazine).

    two warring factions, with TG in the middle doing its own thing. SkinTwo has the brand, and none of the organisation, but Fetishistas/LFW has the ethos, but not the brand.

    you guys are totally right though (3xl/obs). there’s room for one big happy fetish festival, with loads of attendees and no gambling on the side of the designers.

    sadly, there isn’t room for two/three, and warring egos. And that means everyone loses.

    (hope this wasn’t too long – hopefully it provides a little insight into the politics of the London scene!)

  • Sway says:

    I guess not the number of parties are the problem, problem are the warring egos. We all should have fun and enjoy our kink. All (designers, models, photographer) should not be judged by the party they visit.

    I remember my first SkinTwo party back in 2003, it was amazing, a dream and it’s makes me sad to see how far all the “party thing” comes.

    The party discussion in UK is similar to the one in Germany and well… I must admit I can’t hear it anymore. People: talk together, don’t think your are the best of the best. Everytime there will be someone who is better than you. Do that what you can, enjoy it. Work hard for your profit and don’t profit while you talk bad about other people.

    That’s all I can say about it…


  • RenĂ© de Parade says:

    From my private view:

    Manufacturers are dependent on the fetish people and vice versa. Without a nice range of products, we all wouldn’t know what to wear or to play with! With our money they can make a hobby into a business and provide our small but still quite large scene with nice things for wearing or using.

    Times are tough, I know! Many manufacturers had their wholesales closed down or their advertising reduced. Magazines struggle from this too, Marquis hasn’t been out for quite a while, SK2 officially canceled the regular appearance and went the coffetable book way.

    The result? Business becomes even worse. If not advertised, products don’t get known and not bought. Online seems tempting to us, for we insiders know all the sources as we know each other. But general party crowd doesn’t. Take Bodycult, one of my favorite German Labels. At Fetish Con last weekend in Florida, hardly no one knew them or what they exactly do. Everybody admired my shirt from them, I bet it is on dozens of pictures (no not me, they wanted the logo and pattern on the back). Even fetish models, we all know from US and European events were suprised. Or take even well informed editors, Tim, Tony, Sandra and the others found something new on every German Fetish Fair so far. Our scene is to big to assume everybody knows of everything, just because there is the Internet.

    So in order to make a succesfull business, it takes advertising and being seen. Magazines are required for that, sales expos are another great chance, as are shows at events but so is also the wholesale in real existing stores (I see the point in not selling to small online stores, when the online revenue would else stay completly with the manufacturer).

    This all is needed for running a good manufacturer! It requires money, but in order to earn money, this is needed. If companies vanish, we all will have less to buy and wear. We shall support our favorite companies therefore. If they are doing better, they will surely invest again. And trade shows will grow bigger, magazines can extend coverage again, etc.

    Of course there is the other topic of competition. I believe in the necessaritie of such things as magazines, expos and so on. While competition usually makes products better, it only works to a certain degree on small markets. If the point is, that everybody looses, maybe the scene should sit together and find a solution. For the sake of us all, for our scene! If everything is running down, we all loose! Egos shouldn’t be in a way, but if a troubleshooter can’t put his ego and anger off from it, well then at least all the rest of us should not punish the others too. As long as our scene is small, money is limited. Support those that deserve it and competition will do fine. If it is about taking sides, avoiding others just for not liking them or liking their oponent more… forget about it. It is our scene! We shall stick together!

    This is my personal view. I told it to the people concerened and I am going to keep on telling it. This is not an usual market, this small fetish world is mainly about us and our likes. If we want to consume, we shall suppport!



  • Ancilla says:

    What terrible news! :-(

    The fetish Xpo has been one of my very favorite events worldwide. I have very many happy memories of it and every year it was the event I think I looked forward to the most. Not only for the experience of having a “fetish shoppingmall” but also to have afternoon tea with friends without loud music that usually accompanies fetishparties and talk to the vendors and designers you’re buying from face to face. I can’t recall it being anything else but busy.

    I know people who came from other countries for a day solely for this expo, not even to attend the evening parties. I think this was a nice oppurtunity for fetishists that are not party-animals to meet other fetishists in a comfortable casual enviroment.

    My heart breaks for all the changes the fetish scene has undergone since I first entered 5yrs ago :-(

    I am hoping it will come back in the future!

  • Ancilla says:

    Unfortunatly rivalry is everywhere you go, London, Germany, Holland, Montreal.

    Yes, perhaps too many big ego’s and not enough of letting another have their shine and value.

  • Printed Magazines are not the most important way of advertising in the fetish scene any more.

    Websites like this reach about as much people daily (!) as an issue of a print magazine does sell copies all together. When I see how much companies are willing to pay for print advertising, I wonder if that money wouldn’t be better spent by advertising on some of the top websites in this field.

  • salamander says:

    mmhmm. such a shame. Try getting big egos to sit down at a table and not be big egos, though – it’s like being back in the schoolyard!

    the Xpo has been great the last couple of years; the fashion shows – even with their slightly chaotic nature – were fun, the layout was good, and there was a real community atmosphere. But i know two (big!) vendors who said the difference between 2006 (pre SK2/LFW split) and 2007 (the year of two expos) was going from making a profit/covering their costs, to making an outright loss.

    I can really see why this happened. For something like the Xpo to go ahead, in very trying times (let’s not forget it’s quite expensive to get a booth!) it’d have to be close to a sure fire bet, with good attendance. But the last couple of years have made it anything but. So much of the international audience was lost in the two expo confusion, too…

    it’s strange. that one of the biggest worldwide fetish brands (Skin Two) – a brand that that forms part of the foundation of the scene – is such a large cause of its current unrest.

    democratically elected scene leaders, anyone?

  • Sleekimager says:

    I’d like to correct a few minor points made by Salamander: first, and most important, the split between the Norrises (who run the Xpo) and Skin Two (Woodward) is and was unrelated to the split between Skin Two and Tony Mitchell, and it’s unfair to drag Tony into that mess. Tony got involved only after the Norrises split with Skin Two. (Which makes sense if you know Tony: he’s a journalist and writer, and was never that interested in the running of the events, ‘just’ the reporting of them)

    I would also note that, while the 2007 Expo/Xpo situation was a total fiasco, it is unfair to blame Skin Two for all the mess. It’s undeniable that the Norrises were behaving very badly with the Xpo, and were ripping off the Skin Two event.

    [ Some background: Skin Two started the Expo in 1999 after a sort of experiment in 1998 with the LAM. The Expo moved to the Barbican in 2000, and in about 2005 it became a joint venture between Skin Two and the Norrises — before that, Cathy Norris had managed the thing as a contractor to Skin Two. In 2007, when Skin Two went to the Barbican to book the venue, Woodward discovered that the Barbican had already booked the space to the Norrises, but the Barbican had not known that they not operating as a joint venture like in the previous years. When you know that, and look at things like the logo and name for the Xpo compared to the Skin Two Expo, it’s impossible not to conclude that the Xpo was a deliberate attempt to rip off Skin Two; to have the benefits of the event without paying for the development of it. ]

    So let’s not pretend that the Xpo has any particular ethos; both the Xpo and Skin Two are responsible for the mess of 2007, and the moral high ground — in my book — belongs to Skin Two as the people who made the event in the first place.

    But that said, Dark has hit one of the nails on the head: we’re in a recession, and spending on luxuries are down. In addition, may fetish businesses depend on part-time workers, who often depend on a full-time working partner. Many folks have lost their jobs or seen pay cuts, which makes it harder for people to support “hobbyist” type work.

    The other major nail in the coffin of the Expo/Xpo was when the Rubber Ball (prior to 2007) moved from being a Monday night event to a Saturday night one. Previously, the Expo was busy both Saturday and Sunday, and many people would rest up on Monday for the main event that night. When the ball moved to Saturday night, the sales on the Sunday plummeted. Sure, there were plenty of people there to socialize, but the buying happened on the Saturday. This is one of the major advantages of events like the German Fetish Ball (hi Rene) who try to pick a long weekend: have the main party on Sunday night, so you can have two days of business before the main event.

    (A related point: when the Rubber Ball moved away from Hammersmith, and lost the focus on the shows, designers with fashion shows were less able to treat the weekend as a promotional event with some sales to offset the cost, and instead had to treat it as a pure retail opportunity.)

    I personally was sorry to see the 2007 fiasco; in my mind, there was (and is) a great opportunity around the Torture Garden birthday party in May, complementing the October events. But I also think its possible that the heyday of the Expo was the last year the Rubber Ball was in Hammersmith (2004?)

    As to egos and to what extent Skin Two is to blame: it’s an axiom of business that it often easier to steal your competitor’s customers than to find your own. That’s where the Chinese manufacturer’s reputation for “knocking off” designs from others came from, and it’s why Skin Two is so often to involved: they started a lot of what we now come to expect from an international fetish event, and so they get ripped off or imitated a lot!

    Still, I think “democratically elected leaders” haven’t been shown to be much of an improvement; perhaps some of Mr Blair’s less popular decisions haven’t been forgotten??


  • Dark says:

    There is something which many commenters seem to take for granted – that is the public nature of fetish.

    For sure many people think of fetish as participating at public events and or scening at them. While this aspect of fetish has been around for a very long time, the public social trade show gala was really the tip of a rather larger unseen iceberg.

    For many this “safe” public option was compelling and people flocked to the few large events which were special and almost unique and looked forward to. Some went to them every year, on every continent and others just savored one experience and returned to their private fetish world.

    But the public face of fetish gets all the attention and it draws the sales. It was a marketer’s dream. It got people into party and ball gear and drive the fashion side of the industry.

    Is it ego or personality conflicts or even greed which has caused some of the “odd” behavior of the big guys in the fetish world. Is all this a top down or a bottom up phenomena? It would appear that it’s a top down and when the top is in disarray the bottom takes a hit. But this seems almost inevitable when so much is left in the hands of so few which affects so many.

    For the stay at home folks who don’t party or scene in public, or have fetish friends to be seen at these yearly events nothing is missed. They just buy their gear, online or walk in and enjoy their fetish play.

    I put the changes at the foot of greed and ego and power and of course laziness in indifference. But I’m cynical. I always thought that the success of SKII would lead to its undoing.

    It has.

  • Phoenix says:

    I wasn’t *that* surprised by the news, given the economy and the saturation of the party scene (Obs has discussed before how there are too many parties now for each to get the attention and attendance it used to). Although it is sad news for sure.

    I have to say that I was more excited to go shopping at the Fetish Fair in Berlin than I even was for the actual parties- the chance to see so much merchandise, so many vendors that were new to us (like the aforementioned BodyCult! Who are fabulous BTW), browsing and chatting, etc. It was truly fantastic. We’ve had nothing on that scale in Canada, unfortunately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Subscribe to RSS Feed


Subscribe via e-mail:


By Date
By Topic