Why did you decide to start a brand in 2017?
It all started from a desire to express our admiration for the world of fetish and kink. We have a close friendship that started in the early 2000s. We have great respect for each other's aesthetic and points of view, and found common ground in our exploration of masculinity, sexuality and queer-culture. The first idea was to transform provocative images into a thing of beauty. To us these are not just Pins or TieClips, they are wearable pieces of art that balance the provocative with the beautiful.
What’s it like having a fetish brand in Amsterdam? Has the city influenced your work?
Living in Amsterdam, a very liberal city, has definitely influenced our work. There has always been a gay/leather scene and it’s nice to see how it’s evolving, becoming inclusive of more and more fetishes. Experiencing the different fetishes first hand does trigger a creative spark. From classic leather, rubber or puppy play, at Master of the House we are inspired by all the different ways people express their sexuality. One of the pin designs is the Sniffer, representing the sportswear and sneaker fetish. The first collection of Pins was conceived as a creative experiment and mainly produced to sell to our friends. It was quickly picked up by key retailers in the leather and fetish world, some of them based in Amsterdam.
As kinks and fetishes become more accepted, has your art/brand changed?
One of the motives of the brand is to create more visibility and acceptance of the fetish scene by designing wearable art: pins, tie clips, dog tags, as well as polos and tees that can be worn at fetish parties or in daily life when you aren’t in full gear. Wearing a symbol, a reminder of your kinks, making that visible to the outside world in a subtle manner. We didn’t realize, but what has happened is that our products have become a tool to communicate desires as hanky codes did.
What is your relationship to the artist Tom of Finland? Has his erotic legacy influenced your work?
Of course, he is the founder of the classic leather man, triggering our leather and fetish fantasies. To us, Tom of Finland is a great example of when provocative and highly sexual images are elevated through the excellent skills of the artist. The drawings of Tom are also a great example of where art starts a movement. His depictions of leathermen have been the greatest source of inspiration on how (to this day) fetish can be communicated through iconic clothing, like the leather motorcycle vest.
What does it mean to you to have a Tom of Finland collab? Can you talk about the exclusive items?
Our collaboration with Tom of Finland has been a great experience. The research consisted of going through all of his artwork, which is always a joy. Trying to figure out what we as designers can do to honor his work and not just use his art as direct inspiration. Something that stood out for us was the 'Laureled Cock' that is depicted in several of his drawings—mainly used as a symbol on a badge or belt buckle. For us this symbol is a great way to communicate with those that will recognize it when they see it. The decision to design a Tie Clip was made fairly quickly, it’s one of our best selling products. Our Tie Clips can be seen on leather men around the world. It’s a great way to secure the leather ties that are worn with full leather uniforms, or silk ties worn with daily workwear.
Tell me about the textures that have inspired you— leather, rubber, bondage… What fetish material can we expect next?
We mostly work with metal, creating products that complement the traditional fetish materials like leather. Within our collection we like to play with the tension and contrast between the super shiny and the matte finishes. Which can be translated to a provocative fetish image contrasted with a beautifully finished product that can be worn proudly in daily life.
Pup play seems to be a focus in your collection. How did that come about?
After we had launched our first collection, we received a question of a pup: if we were going to design for pups, too. At that moment we didn’t have that much experience with that spectrum of the scene. It did intrigue us. So we decided to produce the first, now iconic, puppy pin. Which sold out within weeks. The huge response we get from the pup community inspired us to come up with more designs each time. It’s a large growing, loyal group that has embraced the brand.
You can say we are dog lovers. Woof!
You’ve got a vast collection of pins based on different kinks— collect them all! — how do you go about researching new designs? What’s the process of producing something, from the moment you have the idea?
The design process can be triggered by many things, but mainly we are inspired by what we encounter when we explore fetish and queer culture through travel and social media. We live in an age where we are constantly visually stimulated and where creativity can flourish. Once we have an idea, we try to capture its essence with a digital sketch. From there we look at the image and what we can do with it. Our most used material is gold tone metal which elevates an image to something to be worn as a piece of jewelry. But we are always looking to expand our range, for example, with clothing.
Do you plan to keep creating based on the rolodex of queer terms/kinks?
Sexuality, fetish and kink is a fluid concept that is always evolving. It is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Part of our mission is to keep our eyes open, to find and translate the visual attraction of new queer and kink terms into wearable pieces.
Have you discovered new ones throughout the process?
It’s not so much that we are discovering new kinks or fetishes, but we are learning more and more how diverse and layered the whole spectrum of sexual expression is. For example traditionally leather and latex were not to be mixed, but we now see that people feel free to create their own fetish look. Not only mixing materials, but also playing around with gender roles and using make-up as part of their sexual expression. A great way for us to discover what’s out there is Darklands Leather & Fetish pride in Antwerp, where people from all over the world gather to celebrate fetish at its finest.
Why do you think it’s important to explore kinks and fetishes?
Exploring kinks and fetishes is exploring your sexual freedom, opening your mind to new experiences and pleasures. It is not fetish that defines you. Gaining sexual freedom will boost your confidence, and will give you a better understanding of who you are.
How can a pin or a necklace empower wearers to embrace their kinks?
To wear one of our pieces can be a liberating experience, especially when wearing it with something that you wear everyday. For example a ‘Puppy’ pin worn on a denim jacket can be the first time you come out in public about your fetish. It’s a stylish and subtle way to show what your preferences are without wearing your full puppy gear. Fetish is also a way to escape daily life and its challenges. With our pins and jewelry you’re able to remind yourself of your fetish self. Especially with our dog tag necklaces you are able to always wear your ‘master’ or ‘puppy’ persona close to your heart. Whether you decide to show it to the world or to keep it to yourself.
Any new collaborations in the works? Besides ToF?
One of the most satisfying aspects of our brand is the different collaborations we have with models, photographers, specialist publications and other brands. We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to create something special. The sky's the limit.
What are you most looking forward to?/What can we look forward to from Master of the House?
Master of the House as a business is evolving into a brand that will extend with a wider range of products that follow our philosophy. Our design esthetic can be applied to all facets of the market, ranging from clothing to home decor. We have a lot of ideas that will be introduced in the future.