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The average day at Dupont Circle’s Leather Rack (1723 Cionnecticut Avenue NW) is becoming less leathery these days. “Fetish wear has really taken a downturn in the last year,” says Chaz, the store’s general manager. The bad times have steered customers away from higher end items—-$334 leather chaps, for example—-and toward cheaper stuff. “Let’s say you buy a whole Army uniform. That’s all you can wear,” says Chaz, referring to the steep prices for such items.

So customers are moving toward more subtle and masculine wear, like the twill officer’s pant—which looks like the sort of highway patrol trou sported by Ponch and John on “CHiPs”—-or the rescue pant, which has two stripes on the side that are kinda reflective. More practical items, says Chaz, are still selling. Today, for instance, he is putting tags on a new item: Oxballs—-a ball stretcher that replaces the traditional leather with neoprene silicone material.

Chaz finds the fetish industry more lucrative that the real-estate industry he left one year ago.

By Amanda Hess