A Gender Analysis of “Formal Leather”

Stefania Garcia (The University of Texas, Austin)

In early 2022, an Austin, TX-based kink group hosted a leather ball. The attendees were encouraged to attend the ball wearing “formal leather.” Although the dress code seemed simple, it raised questions on what constitutes “formal leather” and whether “formal leather” is gendered. Drawing from gender performativity, embodiment, and queer studies, and using them as theoretical frameworks, this paper aims to complicate notions of gendered fashion by analyzing the craftsmanship, and usage of two leather harnesses to understand how their materiality signals gender. Despite the common belief that clothing, and by extension leather wear, are gender neutral, this paper argues that the perception of gender norms get unconsciously reinforced through the perceptions of the individual wearing the piece and the communities they interact with.

Part of 05-14 Gender, Folklore, and Identity, Friday, November 03, 10:30 am–12:30 pm