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PVC clothing, commonly known as "vinyl clothing", is shiny clothing made of the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC plastic is also called vinyl. For this reason, this type of clothing is also called vinyl clothing. PVC is sometimes confused with the similarly shiny patent leather.
The terms "PVC", "vinyl" and "PU" tend to be used interchangeably by retailers for clothing made from shiny plastic-coated fabrics. These fabrics usually consist of a backing woven from polyester fibers with a surface coating of shiny plastic. The plastic layer itself is typically a blend of PVC and polyurethane (PU), with 100% PVC producing a stiff fabric with a glossy shine and 100% PU producing a stretchy fabric with a silky shine. A manufacturer's label may say, for example, 67% polyester, 33% polyurethane for a fabric that contains no PVC; or 80% polyvinyl chloride, 20% polyurethane with mention of the polyester backing omitted.
PVC can also be produced in bright colours (black, red, white, blue, orange, pink, silver, striped, etc.), adding further visual stimulus to the physical sensations produced by the material. The more frequently found colors are black and red. PVC clothes are very associated with retro-futuristic look, Goth, Punk, alternative fashions and clothing fetish. A common stereotype is the image of a dominatrix wearing a skin-tight PVC catsuit, usually jet-black. In some cities it is more common to see people wearing PVC clothes, especially in large cities such as Berlin, London, New York City, Montreal, San Francisco, etc.
The plastics were used in clothing since its invention, particularly in raincoats. But PVC clothing became more noted in the 1960s and early 1970s fashion trend. The fashion designers of that era saw PVC plastic as the ideal material to design futuristic clothes. During that era, boots, raincoats, dresses and other PVC garments were made in many colors and even transparent and worn in public areas to some degrees. At that time it was also common to see PVC clothes on films and TV series such as The Avengers, for example. And since then these shiny plastic clothes became a fetish object.
In mid 1990s, clothes made of PVC have been prevalent in young people's fashions, particularly in jackets, skirts and trousers, also appearing in the media. During the mid-1990s it was common to see presenters, models, actresses, actors, singers and other celebrities wearing PVC clothes on TV and magazines. As fashions come round and round again, it would seem that PVC are appearing again in mainstream street fashions as well as continuing to be central to the fetish scene.
Fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges have used PVC in their collections. Since 2010, PVC has been the target of fashion not only for the female public but also to the male public.
PVC clothing in the media
- In a scene from the film Two for the Road (1967) the British actress Audrey Hepburn appears wearing a shiny black PVC trouser suit designed by Paco Rabanne.
- In some scenes from the TV film Along Came a Spider (1970), the American actress Suzanne Pleshette appears wearing a red PVC coat.
- In an episode of the 1990s American television sitcom called The Nanny, Fran Drescher wore a red PVC outfit.
- In the music video called Scream (1995), Michael Jackson and his sister Janet Jackson wore black PVC pants.
- Also in 1995, the Canadian singer Shania Twain wore black PVC pants in the music video called You Win My Love.
- In the 244th edition (November 1995) of the Brazilian version of Playboy magazine, there are two photographs in which the model Maira Rocha wear Lucy in the Sky (clothing brand) black PVC pants.
- In 1996, the American pornographic actress Jill Kelly appeared wearing black PVC top and pants in one of her movies.
- In the 1996 live action version of 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil Glenn Close wears Red PVC thigh high boots, ultimately getting slimed in molasses and covered in mud.
- In 1997, the English actress and model Elizabeth Hurley appeared wearing black PVC pants in the thriller called Dangerous Ground.
- Also in 1997, in the Shania Twain music video called Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, the musicians appeared wearing black PVC pants.
- Also in 1997, the Mexican singer Thalía sang and gave interviews wearing black PVC pants on Brazilian TV show called Domingo Legal, on SBT television network.
- In the 2000 live action film 102 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil Glenn Close is wearing black crotch pvc boots, which get caked
- The English television presenter Davina McCall has worn PVC clothes in some of her appearances on TV.
- The English television and radio personality Zoë Ball wore black PVC pants in one of her appearances on English TV program called Shooting Stars.
- In certain episodes of the American television series called Smallville the actress Erica Durance appears wearing PVC clothes.
- The 1990s pop group called Spice Girls frequently used PVC outfits in their presentations.
- In 2007, the Brazilian singer Ivete Sangalo wore a black PVC outfit in her show called "Multishow ao Vivo: Ivete no Maracanã".
- In 2010, the Russian musical group Chernobyl feat. Bazooka Boom released a music video called Hooli Gun Yo. In this music video the singer girl appears wearing a red PVC dress.
- Also in 2010, the English newsreader and television presenter Mary Nightingale wore a black PVC catsuit in a charity show called Newsroom's Got Talent.
- In recent years, PVC clothing has appeared in the media, in movies such as The Matrix, in the television series, in singers such as Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Lopez and Mýa or even in the fashion trends.
- In 2017 game Splatoon 2, one of the idols named Marina wears a PVC half jacket.
Caring for PVC clothing
PVC clothing requires some care to make it last longer and maintain its appearance. It is known that PVC clothes are made with a fabric covered with a plastic layer. For this reason, PVC clothes should not be over-stretched, to avoid damage to the plastic layer. When excessively stretching the clothing, the plastic layer can lose its smooth texture and stay striated, losing also part of the original shine, and may even tear.
If PVC clothing is not soiled, many people will just freshen the polyester inside up with a fabric refresher product and wipe the plastic outside with a damp sponge. If there is need, PVC clothes should be washed by hand with warm water and a small amount of liquid detergent. Washing powder should not be used because the flakes can remain on clothing after washing, and also can stick to the plastic layer.
To remove the detergent one should use cold water and after turning the garment inside out it should be left to dry under the shade. After drying the inside (polyester fabric), then it must be turned in the right direction to dry outside (plastic layer).
PVC clothing should never be ironed. This type of clothing is made of heat sensitive plastics and which may melt under the iron, and high temperatures should be avoided from any source, such as flames, dryers, and cigarettes. The fumes from burning or smoking PVC plastic are dangerous.
Different coloured PVC garments, especially white, should be stored separately from each other, otherwise staining may occur. PVC clothing is best stored hanging in a garment bag away from other clothing.
The fabric used for PVC clothes is typically plastic-coated polyester. This PVC fabric is more resistant to wear and tear than rubber, and PVC clothing does not require the use of any shining products. However one can polish PVC clothing if desired with liquid silicone spray which is available from car accessory shops.
- Fetish fashion
- 1960s in fashion
- Catsuits and bodysuits in popular media
- Leather fetishism
- Rubber and PVC fetishism
- Sexual fetishism
- Latex clothing
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