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Know your sexy fetish wear: the difference between latex, rubber and PVC

A purrfect PVC catsuit with plenty of assets on display.Fetish wear has never been more popular; with bondage and domination experiencing a surge since the 50 Shades of Grey phenomena, both men and women have been far more interested in exploring sexual avenues previously regarded as alternative.

There’s no denying that fetish wear is still not a mainstream activity, but more people are opting to dabble in it, even if they don’t go on to become hardcore fanatics.

Fetish wear costume materials

But there’s a lot to take in when you first start out with terms like rubber, latex and PVC all seemingly used interchangeably.

What exactly is the difference between the three and why does it make a difference? Here’s a closer look at a walk on the wild side.

What is latex?

Latex is the milky white substances traditionally tapped from the rubber plant tree, Havea Brasiliensis, which only grows in tropical regions such as South America, Indonesia, Africa and Malaysia.

Latex is a naturally sustainable product as the trees don’t need to be cut down in order to obtain the substance, simply ‘tapped’. However, despite this, much of the latex used today is synthetically made instead.

Latex costumes like this show all the curves in all the right places.

Perfect for fetish clothing, latex is a material which is supple, stretchy and naturally resistant to mould and mildew. Soft to the touch, it’s sensual and alluring, but unless you’ve ever tried to wriggle into an outfit, you won’t appreciate just how much friction is created between latex and the skin.

You won’t be able to pull on a latex catsuit without a bit of help from either talc or baby oil. When you’re ready to take it off, simply roll it down; this can be easier if you’re in a warm shower at the time.

Latex can’t be pierced because it rips which means the clothes have to either be glued together at the seams or else moulded instead. As a result there are no zips, buttons or other openings. Once on, latex clothing really hugs every inch of your body, creating a very constricted feel.

It’s this sensation of the latex pushing against every curve which is so popular in the fetish market. Heightening the sense of powerlessness, wearing latex is an incredibly erotic experience.

Is rubber different?

Rubber is also a natural material and shares many of the same qualities with latex, particularly the sense of constriction and the distinctive rubbery smell.

However, rubber clothing tends to be much thicker than latex and as such it’s more expensive and less readily available. Because of the additional thickness, there’s not the same versatility as with latex so it tends to be used in a narrower number of designs.

What about PVC?

To a fetish fan, PVC is instantly detectable as being different with its ultra-high gloss and adornments such as zips, spikes and stitching.

A synthetic material often referred to as vinyl clothing in the US, PVC is a very popular material, especially with those who are only just starting out on their journey into fetish wear.

Unlike rubber and latex, there’s not the same rub and constriction with PVC so it doesn’t produce the same sensations that hook hardcore fetish fans in. Typically backed with a nylon material, the PVC is on the outside only and to the wearer, it won’t feel much different than normal clothes.

Latex costumes like this show all the curves in all the right places

A purrfect PVC catsuit with plenty of assets on display.

PVC is incredibly tough and it’s also waterproof but the only drawback is that it’s not breathable. You could therefore get quite hot in your PVC outfit quite quickly, a factor to bear in mind.

Unlike rubber and latex which both have to be treated to get that distinctive high gloss shine, PVC automatically has the sheen even straight out of the box.


Latex, rubber and PVC really are three different materials, despite their visual similarities. Hardcore fetish fans typically hanker for the tight compression of latex or rubber whilst the relative comfort of a PVC catsuit is great for individuals wanting the hot and sexy look of rubber but in a more convenient style.

Image Credits: Taymtaym and R Schofield