Fetish wear doesn’t have to be all black leather and latex—San Francisco kink label, Yarness is proof. Fusing traditional fetish pieces with multi-colored mesh and yarn, artist Ryan Crowder gives kink a colorful edge—and he doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. For his latest collection, Crowder teamed up with queer filmmaker and BULLETT favorite, Aron Kantor, to create a psychedelic—and slightly ’80s—vid that’s equal parts rubber daddy and Richard Simmons. With his neon harnesses, the fiber artist-turned-designer celebrates queer visibility in all its forms. Whether or not you’re butch, like bondage or big dicks, Yarness is for everyone—except fascists, and in that case, it’s the perfect fuck you.
Watch the exclusive video and read our interview with Ryan, below. And don’t forget to shop the new collection, here.
Tell me about Yarness. Where did the idea come from?
Yarness is the manifestation of my kinks, my introversion, what I learned from living in San Francisco, and the face-off of art and commerce.
How did you get started?
Yarness started when I was figuring out how to dress for Folsom Street Fair (a huge San Francisco kink street fair) in 2010. I stayed up real late crocheting a bright pink yarness and when I wore it the next day, I felt fucking good in it—and I got the strongest reaction to any piece of art I’ve ever created. It took a couple years of designing yarnesses for other street fairs until I launched a crowdfunding campaign for the brand in 2014. Since then, I’ve continued designing and selling these babes to folks around the world.
What’s your art/design background? How did start working in this particular medium?
I’m a fiber artist. I’ve learned bunches through experiences and mentors. A big part of Yarness is also online performance, and it should be no surprise that I’m a dancer and performer, as well. That is me in the video being licked by the giant Justin Hall tongues.
I’m drawn to the cultural weight of it—the gendered domesticity it implies. As a man working with yarn, I like screwing with people’s expectations when they see me. Yarn is also comforting and comes in really bright cray colors and materials—I needed to smash all that with gay leather culture.
I’ve found explicit expressions of sexuality and desire compelling ever since I could jack off. I appreciate people who literally wear their fetishes on their sleeve when many queers play the hiding game. Iconography like Tom of Finland, or writers like John Rechy and artists like David Warjarnwicz had profound effects on me. All of them are like, ‘SEX. Here. There it is. Suck that cock!’ I moved to San Francisco the first chance I got out of college and there’s this leather scene here, but I struggled to jive with it—I perceived a rigid masculinity I didn’t even feel compelled to aspire to. Yarness is my expression of queer masculinity in direct response to fetish wear. […] I kinda feel like the Lil’ Yachty of the leather scene.
And what’s the goal of mixing the two?
I guess my goal is to make something for people to feel good in while making an impression. My garments help people stand out—they help you leave your bullshit behind and force people to deal with it. The contrast of bright, colorful fetish gear just smacks people upside the head and I love it. Whether they are old guard leather or a gay positive mom who read 50 Shades of Gray, people look at it and something clicks. I like that.
Are you hoping to bring kink culture to the mainstream? Or at least away from being taboo?
I’m always about making queerness visible. I think it’s hard to figure out what is appropriate to share when it comes to bodies and sex—I like giving peeps tools to play with it.
Tell me about the collaboration with Aron Kanter.
Ever since working with Aron on his Folsom video, I was convinced he was da real deal—a queer beacon of friggin’ light. We started with the theme of ‘weird and sexy’and pulled in animator Dicky Krolewicz, and the three of us made this beast together, collabing with a bunch of talented artists to make a dent in the internet. I just like attention.
What do you want people to take away from the clothes?
I just want people to feel good. For some, it’s about accessing sex without riding butch vibes, for others it’s about giving an entryway into being shameless and expressing yourself.
Is Yarness a political statement?
Yeah, Yarness is unabashedly queer. Calculated visibility and solidarity—anyone who wears Yarness isn’t blending in any time soon. I hope people feel empowered by that.
What do you think your role is as a queer designer/artist, especially considering the current political climate?
I’m choosing to show up. As a white gaywad I’m here for my queer POCs. I’m here to fight against marginalization and dehumanization—sometimes I just want you to wear something to feel that.