Based in NYC, Yeha Leung's BDSM-inspired looks have gathered a cult following online and been seen on some of music’s most daring stars.
It’s no secret that BDSM fashion has gone seriously mainstream. Nowadays, you don’t need to frequent sex dungeons to have O-ring collars and leather harnesses in your wardrobe. Popping out to a party in a latex dress, it’s less that you’re scouting for a sub to play with and more that you want everyone to know you’re fully in control of your sexuality. This broader acceptance of fetishwear has been enabled by designers like Yeha Leung who stand at the intersection of underground and mainstream fashion. First showing her designs on Tumblr (before the NSFW ban, naturally) she’s since jumped ship to Instagram, where she’s grown her Creepy Yeha brand to reach hundreds of thousands of fans.
Making intricate, full-body pieces out of pearls, buckles and leather straps her attention to detail and craftsmanship have found celebrity fans amongst the likes of Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat. We catch up with Yeha to hear about how social media has changed her life, why she keeps her brand independent and what it’s like working with Thee Stallion.
What’s your design background?
Since I was a child, I was always experimenting with materials I found around the house or in the streets. I learned how to professionally construct garments whilst studying fashion design. During the process of creating my final collection, I discovered I was happiest making the accessories that I used to style my clothing. I wasn’t trained to make accessories, so it was a lot of trial and error. I made my own rules basically and that’s how I try to run my business to this day.
A free spirit then! So when did you first become interested in lingerie?
My obsession with lingerie started when I was a young child and I’ve always been attracted to garments that were more on the risqué side. My fascination intensified when I discovered some artwork by John Willie in a magazine I found under my dad’s pillow. Watching an old tape of Madonna on television was my first exposure to lingerie being utilised for performance and self-expression.
I first got to know you via Tumblr and now I’m one of your 607,000 followers on Instagram. How do you think social media has changed things for independent designers like yourself?
I think social media is great, it’s the easiest way to get your work out there. Running a business online helps cut out the middle man because you get full and direct access to your sales and clients, as well as freedom in creating content. My brand has always been fully independent financially and that wouldn’t be possible without the power of social media. I can promote and showcase my work with little to no limitations or restrictions. When I post visuals for my brand, I can get instant feedback which can be rewarding or can help me make further improvements and constantly grow to be better. My experience may not be the same as other people’s but I am very lucky to have found my niche and to be able to cater to that.
It must be tough doing it all between yourself and your partner though! What’s the day-to-day running of your business like?
I work at home full-time so from the moment I wake up, my partner and I go straight into work mode! It’s usually most hectic in the early day because we try to have everything packed and shipped before 4 pm. After packages are dropped off, we take a break for lunch and to play with our new kitten Jippy. Once we’re fully recharged, we restart the process again by starting new orders to finish the day after. We usually try to stop work before midnight, I used to work until 2 am but I’m not young enough to get away with that anymore! I’m a major workaholic, if I didn’t have my partner, I would forget to eat or sleep in a timely manner.
I’m a big Megan Thee Stallion fan and I saw from her Instagram that you recently worked with her! Could you tell us how this came about? What is she like?
I created some pieces for Normani’s music video “Diamonds” alongside Kollin Carter. Megan was also featured in that video so it was a very organic way of connecting with Megan’s stylist EJ King. EJ approached me shortly after the video came out and we hit it off. I had the honour to meet EJ and Megan which is a rare experience for me when working with stylists. I usually never get the chance to work closely with the artist which is something I always prefer because I like to keep the process more intimate and personal. They are both truly great and hardworking creatives. I got to experience what it was like behind the scenes which made me appreciate the hustle even more.
That’s a major life goal achieved right there! Where do you hope to take your business in the next five years?
My goal is to always grow and continue my brand at my own pace. I would love to create garments to style with my accessories. As of now, my work is only available online so I am working on improving my showroom space. I plan to make my space ready for not just fittings but for appointment shopping as well.
25 March 2020