4D--the premier [aka the supreme dictator. Kidding! I kid! I heart 4D!] manufacturer of latex rubber sheeting for fashion purposes--makes sheeting in various gauges, or thicknesses. The different thicknesses allow us latex designers to make a bunch of different, you know, cool stuff. If they only made sheeting in one gauge, it would make our lives more difficult than it already is.
Latex clothing is tre expensive! I hope this post will help you become a more informed latex clothing consumer or d.i.y.-er (and fetishist!).
4D uses metric measurements. Gauges are specified in millimeters. So, when you see "mm", it means millimeters--not millipedes. FYI: 4D sells latex rolls in increments of 10 and 5 meters, not yards. Similarly, they denote fabric widths by centimeters, not inches. By the way, they only offer two fabric widths: 92cm & 200cm. For $64,000, guess which one costs more. If you see a slip up where I write "yards" or "inches" instead of "meters" or "centimeters", I apologize in advance for being a dumb bourgeois fat pig New Jersey-bred American. Honestly.
Besides depending on the type of colors, the wholesale price of latex sheeting is largely dictated by its thickness, or gauge. Not talking 'bout the actual length or width of the sheet here. The thinnest sheeting is the least expensive, while the thickest sheet is the most expensive. (And boy do they get expensive!). Ergo, expect to pay more for thicker stuff.
0.16mm The thinnest sheeting 4D manufactures for fashion sheeting. Very very thin--much like a condom or dental dam. I rarely see this gauge used in fashion apparel. The norm for ultra thin items is 0.20mm. 0.16mm is great for stuff like props, backgrounds, and anything calling for a super gossamer look.
0.20mm So stretchy and clingy, it actually feels like a second skin! It's also very comfortable to wear over long periods of time. This gauge is optimal for lingerie, stockings, and anything where a light look and feel is needed.
FYI: The thinner the sheeting, the more tricky it is to manipulate, i.e. glue successfully.
Also, this may be obvious but, the thinner the gauge the more "stretchy" the sheeting. Garment patterns should be dictated by which preferred gauge is used. For example, most patterns are now being increasingly drafted for 0.33mm. Although it's often done by latex designers and firms, those patterns can NOT be used to cut a garment from 0.45mm. That's why if you order a particular garment in 0.45mm or 0.55mm, it ends up fitting too tight or being the "wrong size". Well, can't they just use a pattern the size up? My answer: absolutely fucking not. You're dealing with the luck of the draw here. Good thing many latex apparel consumers remain ignorant about these things. Ack! Think about it. Will a clothing company who specializes in, say, spandex body suits suddenly start making them in denim?
0.33mm The standard gauge used in latex apparel, especially women's wear. Think light to medium weight cottons, satins, and menswear fabrics. Great for hoods, catsuits, tops, dress, leggings or gaucho style pants (not very suitable for jeans style). This gauge is great for "pull on" stuff, i.e. garments without zips or any other closure. However, this does NOT stretch as much as a spandex knit fabric would. It needs more seams than 0.20mm to shape a garment correctly without that "flattening" effect.
0.45mm Another golden standard for latex gear. One of the most popular used thicknesses. A very noticeable heavier feel and a lot less stretch than 0.33mm, but still supple and stretchy. This is my favorite gauge. This gauge is awesome when you want a more structured look to your garments without going for the heavier stuff. Great for structured tops & dresses, trousers, light jackets.
0.55mm & 0.65mm If the entire garment is made from this, I find it causes chaffing and that sweat rash when worn longer than a few hours. That's just me. I apologize for not being as hard mutha fuckin' core as you. [I like layering a bunch medium weight stuff.] So which one to use? It all depends on what type of garment and how you want it to look. D.I.Y.ers should experiment (or send me money if they want the answer, like OMSB, 'cuz nothin' ain't free, dawg) and customers should consult with their latex designer of choice.
0.80mm This gauge is great for corsets, accessories, and once again, anything where you want a stiff heavy look & feel. Some designers will "sandwich" the corset boning between two pieces of sheeting to make the corset thicker.
0.92mm & 1.02mm The thickest fashion latex sheet available. Great for accessories, corsets, naughty bondage accoutrements, you get the picture.
Not every set of colors are available in every gauge. For more info on the colors manufactured by 4D read this previous post. Here's a comprehensive list of which gauges are available by color sets:
Supatex: 0.16mm, 0.20mm, 0.33mm, 0.45mm, 0.55mm, 0.65mm, 0.80mm, 0.92mm, 1.02mm
Only black, white, red, and natural is available in thicknesses of 0.92mm & 1.02mm.
Semi-Transparent: 0.20mm, 0.33mm
Vibrant: 0.16mm, 0.20mm, 0.33mm, 0.45mm
Pearlsheen: 0.33mm, 0.45mm