The International Mr. Leather competition has been a Chicago spring tradition since 1979, bringing leathermen and those who admire them to the downtown area for a full weekend of parties and pageantry. One of IML’s signature events—and the one that’s most accessible to the general public—is the Leather Market, which convenes dozens of leather and fetish-goods vendors to show their wares (sometimes with live demonstrations). It’s one of the city’s most compelling people-watching opportunities if you’re just window shopping, but if you’re in the market at the Market, do your homework and check out this selection of the vendors ready to help you get your kink on.
The Leather Market runs May 26–29 at the Congress Plaza Hotel. Day pass $15, weekend pass $25.
Vendors to visit at IML 2017
The Crochet Empire
Crafty Chicagoan Andrew Boyer sinks his hooks into men’s underthings with his line of hand-crocheted jockstraps made with thin, machine-washable sock yarn. Special collections include everything from superhero designs to a Cubs-style W. Visit Boyer’s booth to browse ready-to-wear underwear or talk custom designs.
This San Francisco–based company has been an IML vendor “for longer than I can remember,” says co-owner Jens Schlueter. As the name implies, DungeonBeds manufactures sturdy, steel-frame beds that are outfitted to accommodate restraints, slings and other accessories while still blending seamlessly into your bedroom suite.
dungeonbeds.com; starts at $1,995.
Maine designer Shane Ruff’s line of screen-printed shirts features cheeky, often innuendo-heavy designs that make no bones about the wearers’ sexual affinities. Think Threadless for the Scruff set.
This Fort Lauderdale–based outlet and its accompanying online store are veritable one-stop shops for leather gear and accessories, like the signature Margate Bulldog reversible harness, with stainless steel and enamel hardware.
Art Side Out Studio
Chicago-based mask maker Jeff Semmerling’s designs can be found everywhere from the Broadway stage (in this season’s revival of Falsettos) to summer street festivals. Semmerling’s studio in Portage Park offers mask-making workshops for all ages, but he’ll have some of his more adult-oriented leather pieces on offer at the Leather Market.