NY Designer Telfar Clemens is Designing Liberia’s Olympic Uniforms

New York Fashion Designer Telfar Clemens is designing Liberia’s Olympic Uniforms and his brand is the official sponsor of the national team. 

Credit: i-D Magazine

As announced in the last couple of weeks, New York fashion designer Telfar Clemens is designing the uniforms for Liberia in the upcoming Tokyo 2021 Olympics. The designer has also agreed for his namesake brand to be the official sponsor for the West African national team this year, covering expenses.

The Telfar Brand

Clemens is the designer, creator and owner of New York-based brand Telfar. The NY designer has emerged as one of America’s most innovative and upcoming designers, known best for his signature vegan leather tote and shopping bags with staple logo.

The bags can be seen all over Instagram and showcased by celebrities and A-listers everywhere. Dubbed as the “Bushwick Birkin”, the bags are difficult to get your hands on, despite Clemens’ efforts to democratise them.

 Photo Credit: The Cut

The queer Liberian-American designer has emerged as a success from the pandemic after rejecting fashion norms and industry-specific structures like traditional fashion calendars and runway shows.

The 36-year-old designer has won a Council of Fashion Designers of America Award and a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for fashion design. Clemens was also named GQ Designer of The Year for 2020 and received the PETA award for Most Wanted for his handbags.

Popularity also comes with Telfar’s advocacy for inclusivity with a fashion-forward focus, exhibited in the brand’s unisex and non-gendered designs. So, the move towards bigger and better is not unexpected for the brand’s founder.

According to the New York Times, Liberian Olympic Sprinter Emmanuel Matadi came up with the idea to enlist Clemens after hearing his girlfriend talking about Telfar’s bags.

Knowing the designer had Liberian roots, Matadi and Liberia’s Olympic attaché, Kouty Mawenh moved forward with the collaboration.

Designing Liberia’s Olympic Uniform

Credit: Instagram: @telfarglobal / @jason_nocito_studio

While Clemens hadn’t designed athletic wear before, the designer welcomed the challenge. According to Vogue, Clemens has created 70 pieces for the team. These include sweats, unitards, duffel bags and spikes, each flaunting the Liberian flag and Telfar logo.

Alongside the USA’s Ralph Lauren designs and Italy’s Giorgio Armani looks, this is a huge entrance into the world of Olympic sportswear.

Clemens described his unique designs to the New York Times saying,

“It’s all things you can’t find. They said ‘Go crazy.’ So I did.”

The West African Olympic athletes are currently testing the pieces for final adjustments. All five track and field members will be wearing the designs in competitions and at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Drive for Inclusivity

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Clemens is paving the way for a new wave of fashion and a better understanding of its place in the games. His direct-to-consumer and non-exclusive approach in fashion has meant that the designs may also be featured as merch. The designer told the New York Times,

Olympics are “a show everyone gets to see”.

And he is sticking to the brand’s mantra, “Not for you, for everyone”. After the games, anyone will be able to get their hands on pieces “inspired by the Olympics”.

Clemens is also adding “athleisure” and a sportswear line to his collection for good. “These are clothes we want to sell for the rest of our lives”, the designer said.

The collaboration has added to the all-around excitement for the international multi-sport event. And there is no doubt that Liberia’s national team will go unnoticed.

Their looks “are going to be talked about, I’m sure,”

Matadi said.

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