In decades past, people once had to visit dingy basement sex shops to fullfill their need for erotic adventure. Today, sex toys and fetishwear are global industries, mostly run online. Ukraine-based label ANOESES is just one of the many cutting-edge digital brands of stylish contemporary fetishwear. But the brand also seeks to create an inspirational sex-positive space to explore one’s erotic self.
“At the beginning of ANOESES was a desire to create products which could start conversations between partners,” says ANOESES marketing director Olga Tretyak.
“[We wanted to] help them explore hidden fantasies and kinks, discover how to understand each other and themselves, to help people find what they like, and communicate that to the other person.”
ANOESES was set up in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2018. Founder Konstantin Savvopulo had a background in erotic photography, and experience of running a showroom with products related to the world of kink and fetish. But while the brand was initially run by Savvopulo and his wife, the team has since grown to 30 people: 15 on the production side, and 15 to deal with logistics, sales, promotion and art direction. The brand’s name is an homage to the English word “anoesis”: “a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content”. This definition goes hand in hand with the key notion of fetish culture – the excitement, joy, and pleasure, which is rooted in the experience of an object or material.
“We care a lot about the quality. Our leather and hardware are imported from Italy, and we offer a one year warranty,” Tretyak says. ANOESES’ sets are made from a combination of hard and soft leather to provide a variety of sensations. Functionality is just as important, and the design team tests comfort, practicality, and how suitable the designs are for different body types.
ANOESES has since also branched out into materials like mesh and latex. The idea of designing figure-hugging mesh catsuits came from a prototype used to photograph restraint pieces for the website. Now a signature part of ANOESES’ offerings, the catsuits show how the brand’s creations can transcend different settings. “Our mesh catsuits are tailor made for each order. They can be used in the bedroom, but they can also be worn out casually, or for parties, and layered with different clothes,” Tretyak says.
What ANOESES offers, however, is beyond just the products. A scroll through the brand’s Instagram gives an insight into their vision of contemporary erotic expression: playful, empathetic, and carefully curated. It ranges between studio shoots, candid selfies and even the label creations captured in stunning natural landscapes. It shows that despite being directly related to sexuality, restraints and leather have the potential to become a part of broader self-expression.
Visual communication has been very important for the label from the start. All images and videos are produced under art director Alina Chopenko, with a diverse cast of models from across the world. These images create an almost sensory experience, and according to Tretyak, they are the main driver of the brand’s global success. “We want to convey how these products are going to look on your body and how they’re going to make you feel — that’s why we do a lot of videos to show people in movement,” she says.
Navigating this landscape is not always easy. The shift to e-commerce does not mean that society has moved on from the shame surrounding the exploration of desire. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok all censor erotic content. But an open conversation about sexuality remains one of the label’s core missions: they are currently developing an education project online, which includes a range of courses and lectures exploring sexuality.
“We want to design the products in which people will uncover their sexuality and feel free. But we’re also aiming to build a safe space to allow people to do that – we support non-violent and non-judgmental communication and see how our community is constantly expanding, with people from around the world sharing their experiences,” says Tretyak. “That’s another reason for our success – discovering sexuality is something relevant for people all over the world.”