Second Skin Interview
“I personally think latex sounds cheap. Rubber, personally, sounds more expensive. As we offer a bespoke service, Rubber sounds more fitting.”
Thus, Leigh Sumpter of Second Skin, explains why he prefers the term “rubber” to “latex” when describing the material, despite the popularity of the latter.
Second Skin is a bespoke rubber couture company based in the UK. Unlike many similar companies, they are dedicated to the cosplay scene, and provide a diverse range of costumes inspired by a variety of mediums, from comic books to video games.
With their stunning rubber Bloodrayne and Tomb Raider costumes, as well as Allouetta La Zouch becoming their official model, Geek Pride had a chat with the man behind Second Skin.
What came first: The rubber or the geek?
Well, That’s actually a tough one. I got into rubber when I was 12 years old, by being made to wear a swimming hat. I used to like the feel and built up my collection from there, always knowing that I would work with rubber in some capacity. The geek has always been part of me, so I’d actually say they started around the same time.
What first inspired you to design geek-themed rubber?
Well, knowing that I would always work with rubber, I didn’t want to follow the fetish route, as so many designers already follow that route. I like to be unique and creative, so I decided to make our USP both Plus Size and Cosplay related, so as to target a niche in the market. I want people to understand that rubber doesn’t just have to be fetish.
How closely do you follow the costume designs?
We always do our best by the costumes and to an extent, we follow them pretty close. However, with that said, we like to make our own designs and not copy anyone, which includes outfits, so unless a customer asks for a complete replica, we always make little changes to put our own mark on it, so to speak.
How do you choose which costumes to design next?
That’s a little bit of myself and my brain, and customer requests. I have so many ideas in my head, some of which will never surface due to the complexity, and cost is a major factor in all designs. Rubber in itself is not a cheap material to buy, so we need to make sure that the customer can afford our designs. Lately, we have relied on customers to send us commission work.
What was the most fun costume to design?
To date, I’d have to say Bloodrayne. There are so many details in it and it’s come out amazingly! There’ll always be a place in my heart for Lara Croft though!
What costume would you love to make?
Well, that is coming, but it’s top secret at the minute. We don’t want anyone else to cotton on to our ideas. We are launching a whole range for this series, so it’s going to be mega. Watch this space.
Do you accept requests for custom orders?
Yes. We ideally want all of our orders to be custom. We go up to size 30 as standard, so for those who are plus size, don’t be afraid to get in touch.
Why has rubber become so popular recently with the cosplay community?
That’s the thing, I don’t think it has become popular, that’s why I’m out there trying to populate it more. It’s associated with fetish far too much. All materials can be used for fetish, not just rubber.
Do you ever make costumes for men?
We are looking into this. It’s something we are going to do, we just need to decide which costumes to make and to see what the target market is for male cosplay in rubber. The messages we get from men so far are fetish related, so we need to turn this around into Cosplay. We definitely want to do male rubberwear, just want to get some customers requesting outfits and then we can of course make them.
Where do your customers primarily wear your costumes?
Usually at comic conventions (usually MCM or Showmasters) but they have been worn at alternative fairs, which also cater for the fetish market.
Have you had any contact with Marvel/DC etc?
Unfortunately, no, but we’re open to the idea. We have had contact with The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore. I can’t say much, but in talks about outfits. We have also had interest by the original voice of Lara Croft, which was immense!!
What designs do you have planned for the future?
Along with our top secret design ideas, I’d love to design some outfits along the lines of a Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Pokémon range.
Leigh Sumpter, thank you.