I have been a rubber lover for over 30 years, a leather addict for twelve years and became a convert to vinyl recently when I bought a super-soft, smooth and completely odourless suit (jacket and trousers) in Germany. Atomage is, therefore, ideal reading for me and I have read and re-read Nos. 1-10 many times.
I thoroughly enjoy wearing leather every week-day of my life, having three jackets, a shirt and three topcoats, all of good quality leather and kept in good condition and I agree with all you say in your many articles on ‘love of leather’. My wife also has a fairly complete leather wardrobe and I am pleased to say she fully appreciates all the attributes and pleasures of leather, but is, as yet, rather shy of rubber. I feel that leather is perhaps at its best when it is imitating some of the qualities of rubber; that is, when it is soft, supple, smooth/silky and light-weight. I can see no pleasure at all in wearing coarse grained, heavy leather clothes. You appear to agree with me, on p.4 of Atomage 10, by the way you describe the absolutely superb aniline cape-skin suit.
The two materials are similar in many ways but rubber has at least four main advantages over leather: it is much cheaper, it can relatively easily be repaired if torn, it can be sponged and washed clean without damage, and, above all, clothes can be made completely waterproof and watertight. I must admit that leather is more ‘dressy’ and more acceptable for everyday wear and I love it.
At the week-end I revert to my first love, rubber, and indulge my pleasure in wading and defying the elements. I drive down to the Essex or Suffolk coast, whatever the weather and all seasons, on my 150cc motorbike on a Saturday or Sunday morning; my main protection is rubber thigh boots, a rubber smock with a polo neck, elbow-length rubber gloves, all partly covered up with a belted, polished black wigan coat. For underwear I have a rubber latex singlet and boxer-shorts and in colder weather I wear a rubber wet-suit Long-John (with socks attached). I often think of the eyebrows that will be raised by the hospital staff if I ever have a serious accident ! But, in the meantime, this is an excellent outfit both on the bike and for short walks when I wish to stretch my legs. On average, it seems to rain about one week-end in three in this part of the world — unfortunately less, recently, because l love the feel of the rain and the splashes from the road making my rubber glisten.
For wading in water and mud larking on the foreshore (which is great fun and not mentioned by any of your contributors except E.R.G. in No.4). I use what seems to be standard gear for your readers: over my rubber shorts and vest or shirt I wear chest-high rubber fishing waders inside my rubber thigh-boots with a short rubber or now vinyl jacket, a rubber balaclava helmet and gloves. In these clothes I enjoy all the fun described and illustrated in Atomage, plus, as I say, mud-larking, which adds interest and variety.
In the seaside boat-park of a yacht club in Essex I keep a 10 ft. sailing surf-board, which can be sailed either standing or sitting and provides a thrilling and very wet sail, even in a modest breeze. This brings me to a final point – there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained by wearing a complete, well-fitting smooth rubber wet-suit (over the rubber pants and vests). In fact, from my observations along the coast, wet suits seem to serve as a good introduction to rubber for a large number of men and women, who obviously enjoy splashing about much more than strictly necessary when wearing rubbers.
– J.C.M. (Essex)
Your interesting description is very stimulating. Any hope of pictures of one of the outfits you describe? Ed.