Telfar Clemens, the Brooklyn designer who created his unisex signature to dress people like him: queer and black
June has always been a month full of life, of color, which anticipates a summer full of desire and new illusions. And it is also the month of pride, of breaking the established patterns, of normalizing everyone’s feelings, genders and thoughts, no matter who you want or how you feel.
In this union between pride, fashion and breaking the established models, we find Telfar Clemens, the designer who has democratized fashion and urban culture to create a universe around him and his designs. A social agitator by birth who has managed to shape his vision of life and society through unisex fashion, under his own brand of the same name born in 2015 in the city of Brooklyn.
Telfar Clemens has managed to create a continuous discourse on the need to break barriers, to unify genres, to challenge conventions. To understand what he seeks with his signature and the turmoil it has provoked, it is necessary to go back to his beginnings. Born in 1985 in New York, he studied business in Queens while working as a club DJ. Becoming a designer was something that came up organically. From his particular vision, he saw that men’s clothes didn’t enjoy the creativity or freedom with which women’s clothes were designed.
After years of working as a designer in his studio in Brooklyn and after creating a unisex fashion brand, where simplicity and urban culture have always been the pillars of the brand, without creating eccentricities. Telfar Clemens won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund as the best emerging designer in 2017, as it positioned him as the designer of the American urban culture, with his canonical sports and casual styles where diversity and sexual orientation have always been the motives of his collections.
Telfar Clemens defines himself as queer and black, although he never responds to political references, he celebrates being himself, where his identity is the only thing that makes him create his collections. Even so, he has always been in the news, for his picturesque parties in Florentine palaces in Italy or his sincere declarations.
With the shows postponed or re-invented in digital format, no doubt the Fashion Weeks and the presentations of the collections will be different this year, in terms of format and audience. That’s why it’s nice to remember the last presentation of Telfar Clemens at Pitti Uomo with the Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 collection, which was paraded in January at the Florentine Palazzo Corsini, after a party full of famous people from the world of art, music and fashion, and with the palace still with the remains of the previous bacchanal, it was the perfect setting for the runway show in front of the press, remains of the dinner on the tables included. As expected from Telfar, functionality, minimalism and sportiness was the trilogy on which his new collection was based, while a jazz orchestra set the rhythm of the show.
In this union of talent, originality and diversity in fashion, bags have been, in recent decades, the most wanted accessories, some have been able to be catapulted to position themselves as the all-time favorite, from the classic Birkin by Hermes to the new The Chain Pouch by Bottega Veneta, or the Tote Bag by Telfar Clemens.
The Tote that since 2014 has created a status symbol for the new generation that wants comfort, urban style and also respects the environment. This emblematic accessory has been named ‘Hood bag’, referring to the suburban culture of New York.
The success of the Tote Bag is a union between its affordable price 150 euros and made with vegan leather, where young people find what they need, outside the usual and archaic brands, and look for new ways to enhance their personality and values through firms like Telfar Clemens.
After the resounding success of the emblematic bag, this year during the autumn/winter 2020-2021 fashion shows the luxury version of the Tote Bag made in Italy was also presented, paying homage to the country and to Tuscan culture.
Telfar Clemens is a relevant figure in the LGTBIQ world of New York culture, is not only relevant but also a reference in the world of fashion – often stereotyped and old-fashioned – he has become the figure willing to dynamize the sector and also has a political and social conscience.
His emblem says “Fashion is not for you, it is for everyone”.