About Telfar Clemens and Telfar
Telfar, Telfar Clemens’ eponymous label, launched in 2005 and is championed for its simple, yet luxury designs at a moderate price point. Once rejected by the industry, Telfar is now a brand that continues to spark fires and demand inclusivity for all.
Telfar Clemens is a 35-year-old Liberian-American designer based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Although Clemens wasn’t welcomed into the fashion world with open arms, due to existing prejudices against his sexuality, background, and values, he didn’t let that stop him from becoming a trailblazer in the fashion industry. Clemens continues to keep inclusivity his purpose.
Creating His Own Path
In 2020, before COVID hit the American masses, Clemens held a lavish sleepover for some of his creative collaborators, showing them his newest collection. The next day, he allowed critics and retailers to see his collection. This was Clemens’ first official foray in consciously disengaging the fashion industry and its pre-established ways. Clemens ignored the show calendar, refused major establishment invites, and shut down his wholesale to regain control of Telfar’s sales.
Those bold moves seemed insane at the time, but when COVID canceled shows and stores canceled orders, Telfar kept moving along while other designers had to redirect completely. In 2020, the year that many businesses failed or struggled, Telfar had the “best year” (with the help of the Bushwick Birkin, of course).
The Telfar bag, also called “the Buschwick Birkin”, referring to its square-like shape, was released in 2014 but brought to fame in 2020, which is practically the year of Telfar. Made of vegan leather with the Telfar logo found on the side, it comes in 3 different sizes and various colors. The bag ranges from $150-$257. When desinging the bag, Clemens drew inspiration from Bloomingdale’s shopping bags. The likes of Beyonce, Oprah, and Lizzo, among other celebrities, have been spotted with the iconic Telfar bag.
The designer behind the continuously sold-out “it bag” is a major reason why the bag became popular. Clemens has been advocating for inclusivity in the fashion industry long before it caught mainstream media attention. Inclusivity is the underlying value of his brand. Telfar is truly a brand for everyone, regardless of gender or race.
Clemens continues to say “no” to the industry that once told him the same. He stands for financial, racial, and gender inclusivity, and instead of joining in with the crowd, he is busy building a radical fashion kingdom on his terms, full of everything the industry is now so desperately trying to embrace.