Wednesday, 21 September 2011

SBR raincoat in public

Recent bad weather has given me plenty of opportunity to wear my favourite rubber raincoat.

I bought it last winter but it’s only recently I’ve felt confident enough to wear it out and about and spent four days on the trot wearing it while on holiday. Some holiday, it rained every day but at least I had my rubber raincoat with me, which gave me something to smile about. 

I know that sounds ridiculous but I also know there is still a stigma attached to rubber raincoats and would – even now – be embarrassed to meet a work colleague or friend wearing my rubber coat.

So I only wear it if I’m away from my own locality – which is a shame because I do get satisfaction from wearing it.

As I’ve said before, I’m a lifelong rubber and PVC raincoat fetishist. But while I wear my rubber raincoat in public there’s no sense of sexual excitement for me. There is a thrill however, but I’m not sure how to explain what it is.

I do get a buzz when I notice people doing a double take when I’m out and about. And people do look – no question. But it’s mainly men, though I did spot a couple fo women taking a second glance....

I suppose the buzz is me wondering what they are thinking. It could be ‘weirdo’, it could be ‘who does he think he is dressed like that?’ It could even be, ‘wow, a rubber raincoat, not seen one of those in a long time.’ My biggest thrill would be another enthusiast stopping me to ask where I bought it.

I’ve not been able to analyse why I like this raincoat so much. It’s not extremely shiny like some of the old Weather Or Not mackintoshes. It’s not strong on style – not in the same vogue as an old trenchcoat.

I think what I really enjoy about it is being aware that you are wearing it. The material is quite stiff and heavy – unlike my really old soft Weather Or Not SBR trenchcoat. Neither is it slocky like some mackintoshes – though it does creak and rustle.

It’s also the way it hangs off the shoulders that makes you constantly aware of it.

The one disappointment is that there is no strong rubber odour like my Weather Or Not raincoat. All the pleasurable smells are taken out in modern rubber gear so it means us fetishists feel a little cheated. I wonder what it must have been like in the old days when lots of people wore rubber raincoats. The odour when several of them gathered in a shop for example, must have been quite something.

However it does have a slightly sweet sickly smell, mainly of silicon polish I use so now my senses are tuned that that pleasure recognition and even out and about I’m constantly reminded of it when I’m wearing the mackintosh – so others near must also be able to smell it.

What is very different for me it that the raincoat will always look ‘new’. Unless it gets damaged, he smooth surface will always have the same dull sheen. Now I know that’s an obvious statement but normally I hate wearing anything that looks ‘brand new.’ Even when I was a kid at school I hate new shoes and had to scuff the toes deliberately to take the edge off the new-ness. Now for the first time in my life, I derive pleasure from going out in public wearing a raincoat that has a definite sheen to it – and what’s more, it only feels right wearing it with polished black shoes.

It actually doesn’t feel right at all. I’m very conscious of wearing it every second I have it on but I still love it to bits.

I love the way the material ripples as I bend my arm and the way, the stiff double layer of rubber feels as I slide my hand into the pocket.

The material is very heavy and it seems that no matter the temperature, it’s always going to feel quite stiff whereas my Weather Or Not mackintosh is really quite supple.

When I bought this raincoat I wanted something that looked relatively modern in style because the aim always was to wear it in public – where all my other mackintoshes are purely for indoors where I can comfortable wear all kinds of belted and buckled trenchcoats.

This raincoat is actually styles on a design Weather Vain produced for Burberry. It’s short, just below the knee, single breasted and is very much bespoke – hence the £375 price tag.

I opted for exposed buttons rather than a fly front style to break up the smooth panels of rubber.

The collar is short and pointed and now I’ve worn this raincoat in public for several days on the trot, I think anyone could get away with wearing something like this is their daily commute around the city. The style is thoroughly modern. But the material makes it stand out.

The irony is that sat typing this, I’m already thinking that if I was going to buy another raincoat from Weather Vain, one that I would wear in public, it would have to be a traditional trenchcoat style – double breasted, epaulettes, belted waist and sleeves so then I’d really stand out in the crowd.

Having said that, I still need to wear this raincoat a lot more to gain confidence.  I’m still very self conscious wearing it and each time I walk past a group of people and hear a snigger, I wonder if I turned back they would be pointing and laughing at the old man in the mackintosh!

One other thing I’ve realised that even in September, when it’s still relatively warm, a rubber raincoat is not warm to wear. If I’m going to wear this in winter then I’m going to need to wear some kind of fleece under it.
The one thing about wearing it in public that’s been a real positive for me is that I can no longer slouch. To wear an SBR raincoat in public I have to feel confident and that means holding my head up high, pulling my shoulders back and striding out. It’s the only way to carry it off: ‘Yes, I’m wearing a rubber raincoat and I’m proud of it,’ is the message and I walk down the high street.

I’ve caught several people taking a good long look at me but I’m hoping my confident air carries me through.
I think one reason I felt so self conscious wearing the mackintosh was that Mistress wasn’t with me. Being on my own made it very different so I pleased I spent so much time in the raincoat these past four days.

With Mistress it’s going to be more acceptable to be seen hand in hand with a women – rather than being seen as some lonely old man in mackintosh.

The one thing I’d really love to persuade Mistress is to go for a black PVC trenchcoat. She had red and blue PVC jackets and while she’s been adverse to wearing a black PVC mackintosh around the house, she has developed an aversion for black mackintosh in public, purely, I believe, because of the knowledge she now has about raincoat fetishism – which she only discovered once she met me. The other issue is finding a really nice modern cut raincoat in reasonably heavy black PVC.

Owning an SBR raincoat really brings home to me that they are high maintenance. You can’t let the collar get too much sweat on it or the rubber will degrade. You have to polish the whole thing regularly with silicon-based polish. You can’t let it lie in sunlight or cold. So owning one really is a labour of love.

I’m also scared to death of damaging the surface. Even hanging it up worries me that I’ll permanently crease the collar. Out in shops I’m scared it’ll get caught on a sharp surface, or it’ll get scratched buy someone with an umbrella, or burned by a cigarette end. I treat is with more respect than I’ve ever treated any form of clothing.  I can’t just toss it on a chair in a coffee shop, it has to be folded just so and placed on a chair. I’m constantly scare I’ll crease it.

Does anyone else have such paranoia?

In fact I wonder, how many like-minded people out there actually wearing SBR raincoats in public on a regular basis?


  1. Pardon my ignorance, but this rubber raincoat thing must be a very British phenomenon. What is the "stigma" attached to wearing one, and what exactly does SBR mean? As a citizen of the USA, I must admit to being in the dark about this.

  2. Lady Grey: It is indeed a British thing and it is rare to see people dressed in PVC rainwear in this country and virtually unknown for people to wear rubber rainwear. Go to Europe though and you'll see lots of women in shiny pvc rainwear.

    I'm not 100% sure how this stigma developed but there's always been jokes about pervy old men in raincoats, helped no doubt by a famous 60s/70s comic duo who used to do a set, in every one of their TV shows dressed in raincoats, acting out the parts of dirty old men. There was also a time in London when ladies of a certain profession used to wear shiny pvc raincoats and boots (probably because if they were working the streets, they wanted to stay dry in our lovely climate!).

    Any modern rubber or PVC clothing is regarded having a 'kink' element in this country. Mistress wears a red pvc coat and no end of friends we bump into always say something like, 'love your kinky coat.' The fact that rubber and pvc coats are actually waterproof where most nylon cagoules that people wear aren't seems to be a point people overlook.

    Wearing rubbber and PVC clothing here is regarded as 'kink' or 'fetish'. Even the fashion mags label it that way....

    SBR by the way, stands for Shiny Black Rubber. I've no idea of the manufacturing process but a few years back when rubber raincoats were more popular, a certain chemical could be added in the process to give the rubber suface a high gloss sheen, persumably to increase the fashion appeal.

    These days, SBR raincoats are rare and very expensive, in fact the only shop making them now that I'm aware of is Weather Vain in London. You can buy a basic tenchcoat off the peg but generally, other styles are made to order.

    The surface finish of the modern SBR raincoat tends to be more matt than shiny. When I ordered my raincoat there was one very high-gloss SBR raincoat in a lady's size on the rack and when I asked if I could get mine made I nthe same finish I was told that it was a one-off experiment by the manufacturer of the material and there wouldn't be any more high-gloss material produced because a) it was even more expensive than the normal matt material and b) they wouldn't be able to sell enough due to 'stigma of shiny rubber' to make it viable.

  3. Thank you for your very thorough explanation of the rubber raincoat phenomenon. I appreciate the newfound knowledge you've given me. Happy caning!

  4. Replies
    1. It's not entirely a British thing