Being bold comes naturally to some people. The word 'bold' not only addresses the overall personality of an individual, but it also denotes fashion sense.
Some people are eager to push fashion to the limit by embracing bold fabrics and funky designs. The special outfits that actors wear in movies are not only receiving admiration from people, but are also standing out as inspiration for those who want to be the cynosure of all eyes. Costumes that were once thought to be apt only for actors and models are now rapidly being used in real life. A glaring example is that costumes of Christian Bale in Batman or Kangana Ranaut in Krishh 3 are no more confined to movies or fashion shows. The apparel and accessories tell a lot about the evolution of latex from complex wear to assertive wear.
Designers, along with consumers, are enthusiastically looking to bend the rules and exploit latex in new ways. The idea of a fabric that fits like second skin has etched well on fashion pedigree so far. Designers are constantly crafting startling visuals in the form of flattering clothes and accessories created from latex. Latex fabric that brands use in accessories and clothing is stronger, thicker, has better quality and gives out a glossy shine.
India's latex potential
The global market for latex is expanding. In volumes, it was calculated to be around 10 million tonnes, with a market size valuation of over US$ 30 billion. North America and Europe continue to dominate the global latex market, accounting for 56 per cent of the international volumes.
However, there has been a sizeable shift in markets. According to a report by international market research and management consulting firm Kline & Company, latex space is rapidly growing in China, India and the Middle East. Although in comparison to China, India remains a smaller market, it still has been gaining greater significance globally. While the consumption of synthetic latex polymer is predicted to grow at 2.3 per cent through 2017 globally, the collective growth in China, India and the Middle East is expected to surpass the global growth rate with those three markets registering an average growth of 7.1 per cent, 12.4 per cent, and 5.4 per cent, respectively.
Synthetic latex is used in accessories like footwear, whereas natural latex rubber, specifically non-vulcanised rubber, is used to make products like latex gloves, belts, bags, and other products. India's synthetic latex polymer market is particularly remarkable, as domestic manufacturers are giving multinational companies a run for their money. The natural latex market is also a high-growth sector and as the demand for latex accessories in India's fashion arena grows, the performance of this segment is expected to improve further.
A visual delight
Without losing sight, designers around the world are changing the general perception regarding latex. Latex accessories like ties, wrist bands, belts, gloves, bow ties, double buckle belt, opera gloves, knuckle gloves, flower clips, bow chokers, jackets, shoes etc are made in a variety of colours. Black and red, which were the basic colours in which latex accessories were available, have been replaced by more interesting colours like electric grey, gold, silver, black with metallic shades.
In India, the craze for latex accessories is still budding. The perceived kinky image of latex is gradually transforming and urban India now looks at latex accessories as a bold option over mundane stuff. The change in perception is clear, as Indian celebs have started endorsing latex clothing and accessory. Recently, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma posed in a gold coloured latex bikini on GQ magazine's issue cover. Katrina Kaif and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan sizzled in latex corset and latex cat suit in the Dhoom series of films.
Nevertheless, latex accessories are said to be more of a club and party stuff. Latex accessories could be seen getting hold of urban Indian markets easily, especially metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Tier-II cities are yet to shed inhibitions related to latex products. In these Indian cities, latex has been unable to find a revered place in party or club circuits. However, latex prosthetics are well-liked and the market of the same is developing at a swift pace in India. The latex lingerie market is also blooming in the country. Modern brides are willingly paying more attention to select good sets of favourable wedding lingerie, as latex tends to present a multi-option choice of being both fashionable and modish.
Health sector adds strength to latex's ambition
Latex hoods, stockings, corsets, tights and leggings are manufactured under fashion accessories with different thickness ranging from 0.25 mm to 1.05 mm. But, the sector which is supporting the latex growth in India is the medical industry. The global demand for natural latex gloves from India is rising. Kerala is the home of Indian natural rubber. This south Indian state is fulfilling all the requirements of an international glove manufacturing hub.
Currently, latex's demand in India is inclined more towards the healthcare sector instead of the fashion industry. As one of the most populous countries in the world, India is a hot spot for manufacturers of latex medical gloves, mainly due to higher availability of latex in natural form, skilled and cheap labour, and a vast green terrain to back such production.
In India, the latex accessory sector remains unorganised, so there are not many direct producers in the country. However, as online shopping gains momentum, there are several sites like Ebay, Amazon, Snapdeal etc which are throwing up offers for latex-based accessories.
Products like jackets, wristbands, fitness bands, belts et al are available online and are making short appearances in street-style fashion. Among international designers, Peter Domenie and Atsuko Kudo have risen to fame with their unique latex designs in clothing and accessories. Kudo's extravagant creations for celebrities like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have received worldwide applause. Brands like Honour and Libidex, both based in UK, are also actively exporting latex accessories to Australia, China, the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, among other countries.
Though the use of latex accessories has grown globally, the products are still confronting headwinds in the domestic market of India. Random accessories like latex head bands and belts have fascinated buyers, but the phase has been temporary, much to the chagrin of manufacturers and designers. Unlike the hugely popular leather, latex is yet to find its feet in regular fashion circles in India.
Few things seem to get India's fashion circuit as worked up as latex. Having originally been viewed as something related to bedroom stories, youth of urban India is trying to revolutionise the market by using latex as fashion accessories, although on a marginal scale. It is primarily this variation in opinion that designers and manufacturers of latex accessories are pinning their hopes on to spur on market growth in India.