Latex Lingerie Review: Atsuko Kudo Bra & Lace Print Knickers
Note: I purchased these items with my own money. All opinions are my own.
Atsuko Kudo is one of the best known names in latex fashion. You could certainly argue she’s one of the designers responsible for bridging the divide between latex as fetishwear and latex as mainstream fashion. She’s dressed countless celebrities (including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian) and is stocked by some of the most prestigious luxury retailers in the world.
Her lingerie designs bring a directional, editorial edge to latex with exquisite surface embellishment (such as Chantilly lace prints), filigree trims and latex ‘sequin’ appliqués. The delicacy of these embellishments contrasts deliciously with the subversive nature of latex as a textile material.
I’ve been collecting latex lingerie from a number of brands for years now, but until recently, Atsuko Kudo eluded me. I lusted after their designs from a distance, but it was difficult to personally justify the cost. Atsuko Kudo is a luxury brand with a luxury price point to match. The label's most basic bras start around the $200 mark. A signature design, such as their printed basques, will easily set you back $500.
Nevertheless, the lingerie bargain gods smiled on me. I was able to find a number of pieces on sale that I could justify purchasing. The styles I bought are not a part of the same range, but work well enough when worn together. Most of Atsuko Kudo’s designs can be made to order and/or customised to your personal taste, whether in terms of colour, print or embellishment. The website has both a ‘bespoke’ and a ready-to-wear shop, along with a London-based brick and mortar boutique.
I bought the ‘50s Cup Bra’ in black in size XS (I normally wear a 30D), which retails for £175 + VAT ($220 excluding tax). I also bought the lace print, ‘Betty’ style knickers in size M (I normally wear a UK 12). This exact design doesn’t appear to be available through their online shop, but you can find the same knicker shape for £70.83 + VAT ($90 excluding tax) in the plain black colourway.
Finally, I picked up a pair of the plain black knuckle gloves with filigree lace trim, which retail at £44.17 + VAT ($55 excluding tax), in size S.
Atsuko Kudo designs all appear to be available in standard sizes XXS-5XL and made to measure, though a very limited range of smaller sizes appear to be held in stock. Prices vary according to levels of customisation and different colourways/prints. All the garments are made in the UK in the Atusko Kudo workshop.
Material and Construction
Latex is not a fabric most people encounter in their everyday underwear, and it behaves very differently to fabrics like nylon, silk and cotton. Latex is a type of rubber produced by certain flowering plants. It's very stretchy and can give a slinky, ‘second skin’ appearance.
Latex clothing also varies in its construction from traditional clothing. Rather than having the seams sewn together, they first have to be cut out - completely, cleanly and accurately - and then glued together. All finished edges must be cut perfectly as any small fault can later lead to tears very easily. The gluing process also needs a lot of care as when it dries, as dried glue can be very visible on the finished garment.
The construction quality of the garments I purchased varies greatly. The knickers are beautifully made from transparent latex with panels of Chantilly lace print. All of the panels are impeccably and cleanly cut and glued with all of the seams completely visible due to the sheer materials. The centre back features a metal zip for ease of dressing and has been inserted very neatly.
The only quibble I have with these knickers is a minor one: the lace pattern hasn’t been matched across the centre back seam. Though, in all honesty, the dense and intricate pattern means this isn’t even that noticeable. The gloves, likewise, have a very clean construction, with neatly glued seams and a delicate laser cut filigree style trim at the wrists. They’re finished with small, squared off latex bows at the wrists.
The bra is an altogether more complex garment than the knickers and gloves. It’s heavily structured with thicker latex really not designed to stretch to fit the body so much as to hold its own shape. It has underwires and side seam boning (I assume to be steel) all encased within glued latex taping.
The seams are all reinforced and the bra fastens at the centre back, with two rows of poppers, for a small amount of fit flexibility. The shoulder straps can be adjusted with garter style adjusters from large silver rings at the cup apexes. There's a small bow finishing the centre front gore.
Unlike the knickers, the bra was not originally purchased directly from Atsuko Kudo, but rather from one of her stockists. The amount of care taken in construction varies dramatically compared to the pieces I’ve seen directly from the brand.
Although it’s clearly a more complex piece to construct, the fact remains around areas such as the underwire, there simply hasn’t been as much care taken in gluing, often with unsightly excess glue having visibly dried around the seam areas on the garment interior.
Also, parts of the bra still have the garment size written on them with silver pen (even though the bra does actually have a printed size label on the back fastening). Although I don’t personally make latex clothing myself, I know enough about the process to know both excess glue and any temporary size demarcation could have been easily cleaned off before sending the product to the retailer. It might not be visible on the outside of the garment, but it’s still a little disappointing given the level of quality I’ve come to expect as standard from other, less expensive latexwear designers.
Fit can be fairly flexible in latex clothing, largely due to the amount of potential stretch in the material. The 50s cup bra is sized by dress size rather than bra size, but the full cup style means that there’s a certain amount of give to the fit. I’d say technically the XS is more suited to a 30C/32B by its wire shape, but it still works well on my 30D bust.
The wire doesn’t ‘tack’ as in a traditionally well-fitting bra, but all of my breast tissue is encased and the band is a comfortably firm fit. A perfect fit isn’t a requirement of a latex bra, in my view anyway, as it’s not a piece I’d ever consider for everyday wear. My priority is it looks good on my body, which this piece fulfills rather successfully.
The knickers are an excellent fit without any unsightly loose areas and a comfortably wide and secure gusset. There is a lot of stretch to this piece, but care has to be taken when dressing to not accidentally rip the material. The centre back zip helps immensely with this, though it can be easier if you have someone to help you with dressing.
The gloves are a pull on style and are easy enough to dress in. I would recommend styles like the gloves and knickers are applied with a latex dressing aid (such as a water-based lubricant) to help them slide onto the body. Everything should later be shined up with a latex polish.
As much as I enjoy wearing this particular outfit, it’s left me with mixed feelings about the Atsuko Kudo brand. The label produces undeniably beautiful lingerie with their lace prints and laser cut filigree having become iconic in the latex and fetishwear worlds.
However, I can’t help but feel like a large amount of what you’re paying for is the branding, rather than the product, particularly when the construction leaves something to be desired. In the future, I think I’ll be more likely to patronise designers, like Lady Lucie Latex and Catriona Stewart, who produce their own beautiful designs at a slightly more accessible price point.
Have you ever worn latex lingerie? Who is your favourite latex designer?