Where to Shop for Bondage-y Folsom Street Fair Looks
Folsom Street Fair is one of the few days of the year in San Francisco when you can don a leather mask, a harness, and a thong on Muni, and no one will bat an eye. Don't get me wrong, there's probably someone wearing the same ensemble somewhere in the city at almost any other time, but for Folsom, it's practically the uniform.
On Sunday, the city is expecting approximately 400,000 people in various states of undress to join in the fetish-friendly fun. San Francisco may have passed an anti-nudity ordinance in 2012, but Folsom is one of the "permitted events' that falls outside the scope of the law. Leather and bondage are popular at the event, given that it's billed as "the world's biggest leather event," which begs the question: where can you shop for a Folsom Street Fair outfit?
Below are seven options you should try, ranging from a leather/fetish shop to traditional retailers. As always, there's a handy map at the bottom to help you find everything in a pinch.
Mr. S Leather
385 8th Street
The number one stop on your list: Mr. S. Leather (really NSFW). Let's talk about specifics of your Mr. S. visit. If you don't feel comfortable in a bondage store, do not go here. If you feel weird about walking into a store that's playing hardcore porn on TVs around the room, this is not the place for you. Then again, if those are dealbreakers, why are you going to Folsom?
Assuming you're comfortable with all of the above, Mr. S offers reasonable prices. You can find tops, jackets, briefs, harnesses—all pieces that would cost you a lot more in a traditional store. (And yes, there are lots of sex toys, too.) If you're going to make a pilgrimage to any store leading up to Folsom, this should be the it. Because if you go to Folsom, but you didn't shop at Mr. S., did you really even go to Folsom at all?
432 Castro Street
So the Castro's more your scene? Go to Knobs Theatre. has plenty of clothes and shoes you might wear in real life, but they also carry a lot of assless singlets and Burning Man-esque pieces that seem better suited for a party or a rave. There's almost always a collection of studded boots, shoes, and accessories, in case you want to toughen up your assless singlet. While you're in the neighborhood, don't forget Outfit, Knobs sister-store across the street at 463 Castro.
1552 Haight Street
It's not a sex store or a bondage shop, so Distractions might not be the first place to come to mind when you think of Folsom. But what it lacks in ball gags, it more than makes up for with corsets and harnesses—both of which are popular at the festival.
If you don't mind your Folsom look veering more into steampunk territory, you can still find something leather-y to sport for the festivities. Bonus: you can resuse it for the Edwardian Ball.
1475 Haight Street
Merchandise at the Dolls Kill pop-up shop—currently scheduled to remain open through Halloween—is geared toward women. The store has more of a raver vibe than an S&M vibe, but there's no shortage of mesh tops, lace-up pants, pasties, and super-platform boots. If you're feeling creative, you can make a Folsom look happen here.
2231 Market Street
Sui Generis is one of best designer consignment stores in the city, and the owners do a fantastic job curating their windows around seasonal happenings. Because it's consignment, there are no guarantees, but you might be able to find something like a Rick Owens jacket or a Paco Rabanne patent leather dress.
Pro-tip: The men's store is on Market. The women's store is at 2147 Union Street in Cow Hollow.
1364 Haight Street
Most of the pieces from Ceiba look like they belong in a super stylish dystopian film, and some of those cross over into sexy dystopian looks. (I'm not saying that you need this $2600 House of Malakai headdress for Folsom, but I'm also not saying that you don't.) The store carries lots of bondage-inspired leather that you could wear IRL, harnesses and neckpieces, and latex cutout designs that seem on point for the festival. Sidenote: This spot focuses on San Francisco designers who produce locally, but you'll also find a few makers from LA in the mix.
Five and Diamond
510 Valencia Street
Five and Diamond leans more toward the post-Apocalyptic side of costuming. Think handmade pieces with heavy patchwork or moto-stitching details, spiked leather jackets, harnesses, head pieces, gloves, and more. The store stocks their own designs, as well as carrying pieces from local artisans. If you're on a budget, check the sale section in the back of the store.