2020 was befittingly minted as The Year of Telfar. The brainchild of Telfar Clemens reached a fever pitch in during the crux of the pandemic — dismantling the insularity of luxury and harnessing the massive interest in Black-owned businesses. From the Oprah’s list of favorite things to an appearance on Issa Rae’s Insecure, the mononymous brand’s coveted tote bags (dubbed the Bushwick Birkin) stamped its emblem all around. Now, the year is 2021 and designer Telfar Clemens’ latest foray has arrived: outfitting Liberia’s Olympic delegation. With all eyes on the previously-postponed Olympics in Tokyo, the sartorial splendor will attract just as many spectators as the Games’ themselves.
The New York Times announced that Telfar’s signature genderless touch will grace not only the opening and closing ceremonies, but also the competition itself. The seventy piece collection, constructed in just four months, include one-shouldered compression tanks, sweatpants, windbreaker bottoms and even racing spikes. “It’s all things you can’t find,” Clemens said in an interview with the paper. “They said, ‘Go crazy.’ So I did.” Emmanuel Matadi, one of Liberian’s five track-and-field athletes, had the idea to bring Clemens on board for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after hearing his girlfriend praise the vegan leather handbags. “I didn’t even know if he made clothes,” Matadi said. However, he did know of Clemens’ Liberian roots. At the age of five, Clemens emigrated with his family to the United States in 1990 during the country’s first civil war.
Aside from the massive sponsorship (which includes food and travel), a limited collection of Olympic-inspired garments will be unveiled for the brand’s devoted following to purchase following its official debut this summer. In September, a larger line of workout apparel will be cemented into its core offering. “It will be an evergreen collection,” the 36-year-old said. “These are clothes we want to sell for the rest of our lives.”