Megan Thee Stallion photographed by Vivian Loh 

Yeha Leung is the BDSM designer making celebrity fashion hardcore

Rihanna, Lizzo, FKA Twigs, Arca and Megan Thee Stallion are all big fans.

by Jenna Mahale
|
20 February 2020, 9:00am

Megan Thee Stallion photographed by Vivian Loh 

Creepyyeha started life in 2011 as an aesthetics Tumblr celebrating kinky lingerie and pastel goth fashion. It has since evolved into an accessories brand that has adorned some of the biggest names in the business in custom candy-coloured leather and shard-like crystals.

“I try to play around with everything that I can find,” says Yeha. “I’m self-taught, and I've always been into crafting my own things, because I didn't really grow up with money.” While she’s probably best known for her leather garters and harnesses, Yeha also dabbles in elastics, pearls, satin, vinyl and more. “I've never really done just leather,” she adds. “I've always experimented with whatever materials I could get my hands on.”

With fetish-inspired fashion becoming increasingly mainstream, Yeha gave i-D an insight into her experiences as a relative newcomer to the industry, and shares her take on what it is that makes her pieces so compelling.

You built your brand online. In a time where everyone seems to have a complicated relationship with social media, what's yours like?
It's a good relationship! I don't think I could run my business the way I do if it wasn't for the internet. I've always tried to use every platform available that doesn't require a middleman to promote my products. That way, I don't have anyone to answer to except for my customers.

It feels like contemporary fashion is increasingly drawing from BDSM culture. Would you say that this is a good or a bad thing for the subculture?
I think it could be either, depending on how you take it. When I started off in 2012, it wasn’t widely accepted in fashion, and so it was angled more towards the BDSM community. But now it's leaked into regular-wear and people are more daring, which I personally have no problem with.

Do you see it as appropriative?
I feel like everyone deserves to be able to experiment and play around with these kind of pieces. It could be because of the influence of other people, or a self-generated desire, but I can't speak for anyone... I'm not in a place to call anyone out or define anything.

Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
I'm not a huge fan of collaborating because I have this fear of letting other people down. It's scary for me to put myself in a place where I'm working with someone because I'm afraid that it won’t work out, or I’ll do something that's not good enough. At the end of the day, I am still very limited in my resources. Everything I do, I keep it small. Like right now I'm collaborating with The Blonds for their fashion show. That's as far a collaboration as I've done before. Anything else has just been casual, like selling prints I've done with a photographer friend, or a phone case we made because my friend wanted a chain on her phone case, and we ended up deciding to sell it.

You recently designed a few pieces for Normani and Doja Cat to wear in their videos for Birds of Prey: The Album. Tell me a bit about how that happened.
For Normani, it was through Kollin Carter. I have a really good relationship with him. I don't work with a lot of stylists, but I met Colin early on in my career and we built a system of trust from there. It was super last minute, but with celebrity pieces, it’s always "we need it in a few days." So he just approached me with an idea, and I had to work with what I had to make it happen. I usually just show him what I have, and if it's something that interests him, he goes for it. I told him that I'd just made a new piece, and maybe it would be a good fit for her.

For Doja Cat, Brett Nelson approached me. We also have a relationship, and we’d worked with Nicki Minaj previously. He's always approaching me for new artists -- I'd never met or heard of Doja Cat beforehand, but I trusted Brett, so I went along with it. I had posted a look on myself that stuck out to him, and he reached out to me immediately for that same look: he wanted each piece as pictured.

Why don't you work with many stylists?
When I started in this industry, everything was very foreign to me. I was just someone on Tumblr promoting products to sell, so I would get a lot of people reaching out and asking if they could borrow pieces for shoots. I was very trusting back then: I would just loan my pieces out, and a lot of things would come back damaged or didn't get returned at all. I met a lot of people that I learned not to trust, so I would blacklist them. But there were some that worked out and kept their word, and those are the people I continue working with. If someone new reaches out now, I only respond if we know someone mutually that I trust, and that can clear their name.

What's your definition of success?
I wouldn't calculate it in terms of money or how widespread I am, but I think I'm very successful already. The beauty in it, for me, is that I don’t have to lower my creativity for business reasons. I get to do what I want to do, and still eat as comfortably as I please!

Do you have any particular inspirations?
I think I always go back to the usual suspects. I love Dita Von Teese, I love John Willie, I love all the vintage fetish magazines. Also, people! When I have a new muse in mind, I kind of design around them: I try to make what I think they would wear, or how I would like to capture them. The whole clear-crystal vinyl look was inspired by my friend Katerina, who’s a model, and it's named after her. At the time, I was only making leather and elastic things. But I felt like it wouldn't fit her image, so I had to come up with something different. Then I saw this picture of her where there was a chandelier in the background, and I was immediately like, "That's it. I have to drip her in crystals."

And why do you think people are so drawn to your designs?
I don't know! I'm not doing anything that's completely new -- leather and pearl work and crystals already existed way before my designs. I'm just making what I personally like, and I do think that's something that resonates with people. I'm not forced to make a new collection every year or season, so everything is very organic. I think people will always respond to personal art.

Tagged:
BDSM
Fetish
megan thee stallion
yeha leung