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Yummy Gummy Latex founder Rebecca Allsop’s recent announcement that she is closing the business came as quite a surprise — and is potentially very bad news for the latex fashion scene.
In the Instagram Reel she posted to break the news on January 24, Rebecca seemed like a very different woman from the bubbly individual I’d previously known.
Gone was the perennially cheerful, chatty character bursting with positivity whom I’d been bumping into, photographing and gossiping with at fetish events in the UK and beyond for a decade or more.
Instead, I perceived an altogether more downbeat, enervated Rebecca, her eyes watery and her voice sometimes teetering on the brink of choking up.
“This has been a long time coming,” she explained in the video. “I am moving on to the next chapter of my life, I’ve been trying to do too much in the last year, and something has to give.
“I need to take back my mind space so I can move forward. The final nail in the coffin was the cold snap in December which froze and denatured my stock of liquid latex.
“I wanted to close my sheet latex soonish and keep the clothing going, but because of the denatured latex, I have made the difficult decision to not buy more liquid latex so that I can concentrate on my therapy diploma and new projects.”
Laid out in this statement, certainly, were the bare facts behind a decision that few people beyond Rebecca’s closest circle would have known was imminent.
But you may not be surprised to learn that there’s quite a bit more of a story behind those bare facts. And it’s a story she has agreed to share for this article.
Given that there may be a few people who have somehow not noticed Yummy Gummy’s substantial contribution to the latex fashion scene, allow me first to offer a brief recap.
You know that marbled or patterned latex that you see in the latex garment ranges of many of today’s designers, used alongside or completely replacing ‘traditional’ solid-colour latex?
Well, chances are that the multicoloured latex used to make those garments or garment sections was produced by Yummy Gummy from its UK base in the home counties.
Yes, there are a few other people around the world producing decorative latex sheeting using fairly similar methods, mostly on a small scale. But in its ten-year life Yummy Gummy has grown to dominate the market, in terms both of brand recognition and amounts sold.
To be clear, the type of decorative latex Yummy Gummy produces is not made by printing onto solid-colour latex sheet. Yummy Gummy’s patterns and colours are in, not on, the latex.
Allsop learnt her basic production techniques from a man called Matthew Brown at a company called Rainbow Skin. The method she went on to refine at Yummy Gummy employed, for the most part, high quality, medical grade liquid latex and cosmetic grade, FDA-approved pigments.
With modest beginnings like those of many artisan latex clothing brands, she went from selling to a few designers — who presciently recognised the great potential of her products — to a major breakthrough when (now defunct) UK company Latex 101 offered her a big contract to supply sheet latex to it.
Not only did this enable her to expand production of her handmade latex; it also enabled her to launch her own Yummy Gummy clothing range, which would be made for her by Latex 101 under a reciprocal agreement.
When Latex 101 unexpectedly collapsed in 2019, the business was bought by the Netherlands-based Peter Domenie company (to whom Latex 101 had been a significant trade supplier). This left Rebecca with a “debt in sheets” that, once paid off to Domenie, saw the end of her relationship with the Latex 101 brand.
However, she insists: “Latex 101 closing down wasn’t a huge blow for me — it was just sad to see my friends have to close their business and shut up shop. Because what I ended up with was Beth Parkin — who’d already been making my clothes at Latex 101 — making them full-time for me.”
So it might seem strange that by the end of the same year, the Yummy Gummy founder was already thinking about packing it all in — especially when she was selling every sheet of latex she could produce. But it was precisely this high demand that began pushing her towards wanting to quit.
When Rebecca agreed to this interview, however, the first question I wanted to ask her was not about what killed the business for her, but what in her estimation made it so successful in the first place.
After all, while she was not the only person across the whole international scene using liquid latex to make marbled or patterned latex sheeting for garments, she was surely the best known in the UK and Europe.
So, when we connect for ‘the chat’, I begin by asking her what factors she credits with the high profile and success her brand achieved during the ten years she ran it.
“The name,” she answers without hesitation. “The fact that I called it Yummy Gummy made it stand out, because a lot of people go for something dark and obscure and a bit weird and not playful and I went for something really playful.
“I spent a while just staring at my product going ‘What is the best way to describe what this looks like?’ To me it looked like sweets, gummy sweeties.
“And it just worked, because of the German word for latex being Gummi. A lot of people just described it as ‘yummy’, so it just came together with the catchy name and the playful look of my colours.
“And people were waiting for me. It seemed people had been waiting for my brand to appear and be accessible. Because yes, there was Polymorphe, but they didn’t really sell the sheets and… they were in Canada! And I made myself very accessible to customers.
So customers were an important factor. “People say the customers are the best and worst of running a small business. So being so accommodating and being so playful and colourful is where the success came from.
“Also the fact that I was a model,” she adds. “The way that I looked and the age that I was attracted a lot of people to me. And my enthusiasm — I was so enthusiastic.”
Rebecca’s resignation video attracted many comments expressing sadness and regret at her departure. “But on the plus side,” she reasons, “I can show a potential buyer there’s still people out there that want it, and how popular I am.
“When you see a big post like that, you can see how much people care about it. My dad said, ‘Is it Yummy Gummy or is it you?’. I identified with Yummy Gummy for the longest time, as in ‘I am Yummy Gummy’.”
But this, she argues, raised the question of whether, if the business continued without her, it could still actually be Yummy Gummy.
“It’s all very complicated and intertwined,” she sighs, “and why it has come to a grinding halt now. Because I fell out of love with it.
“I was just going through the motions because I was just pleasing customers and taking orders. I was so intertwined with the fetish fashion industry.”
She had been painfully aware that “a lot of designers have garments in my latex that they’re selling, and they’d have to take them off their pages if I went… and all that fun stuff”.
So, she admits, she didn’t really know how to step away. “But the universe heard me and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll sort this out. We’ll just take your raw product then you’ll have no choice but to walk away from this’.
When that happened, she says, she could have replaced the damaged stock. “But I didn’t want to invest another £1,000 plus. I’d done a small order of liquid latex — 12 bottles of 25 litres, of which I think I had eight litres left — and that’s how not-very-far I got into that order before the cold snap denatured it.”
“So it was late 2019/early 2020 when I pretty much thought I’d fallen out of love with Yummy Gummy,” Rebecca confirms.READ MORE – GO TO PAGE 2 OF 2
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