Clemens rounded off the summer with a series of new drops, including rags, belts and hats in new colors – and concluded this with a collaboration with Ugg. “I love this bag and what it has done for us, what it means for people,” he says, “but I’m really looking forward to expanding it.” In the past few years, as Clement’s star rose, Telfar’s products (ironically aside from the bags) have been hard to find. This year Clemens decided to change that. It has doubled in size from direct customers but also says it had “the best retail season ever”.
In addition to a strong sales year, Clemens is enjoying his new position of influence. Still, he points out one of the contradictions in supporting black designers when there are more incentives to do so. “People should be very sensitive to what is happening,” he says. The limelight is “a double-edged sword. It’s still just as exploitative. It takes advantage of your blackness, takes advantage of your worth. Take advantage of how people see you. Even we’re having this conversation – you know what the deal is. “
Clemens says he doesn’t feel complete until after the year he’s done it – Paris, Pitti, the bags, the webshop. “Fashion is so fast that things never happen before it happens,” he says. “Everyone is in a hurry. I’m not in a hurry. I want to do some really good things and grow my business. I asked the universe if I could just make clothes. Do I have to be a damn artist to make clothes? Do I have to be like an influencer or have a friend? No. I can make fucking clothes and make them for myself and then give them to someone else. I want to do that. “- Rachel Tashjian
Accessory of the year: the mask
Nothing in America in 2020 was as full and ubiquitous as the mask. Our new masked clothing started slowly at first and then all at once. In the early days of the pandemic, amid conflicting messages from the CDC, we watched as everyone from aspiring fashion designers to billionaires with private jets took action to fix a mask shortage – a sensitive issue in the United States, where most manufacturing companies have been outsourced Overseas. Then, when it became all too clear that the best defense against the virus was good, sturdy face covering, the humble headscarf and hand-sewn mask became indispensable, even lifesaving, accessories – and somehow the most politicized thing you could wear in 2020 .
Despite this polarization, it has become an accepted and mandatory item of clothing. No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. And where there used to be a shortage of masks, there is now an excess of choices. Runners can get performance masks from Asics or Adidas to match their shoes, and Uniqlo wears them in three-packs like socks or underwear. Those who can’t stand the mask of a mask can opt for a headscarf or a scarf – Hermès is the status option. It’s not fashion in and of itself, but it could be. For every esthete in Eckhaus Latta or Bode there are some surgical disposable masks – not ideal for the environment, but better than no mask at all. Shopping for masks is an entirely new form of indulgence, and our faces are now subject to the kind of shape and size dysmorphism that was once reserved for our bodies. My big jaw keeps pulling my mask from my little nose – who knew?
Yes it is political and in several ways. When 23-year-old tennis (and fashion) phenomenon Naomi Osaka won the US Open in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium that year, she wore a different mask every time she stepped onto the court during the course of The Name one of the many black American victims of police brutality, starting with Breonna Taylor in round one and ending with Tamir Rice for the final. It was a powerful gesture designed to raise awareness, Osaka said. It was also an indelible and redeeming moment for the mask, which we all – it is worth acknowledging – are now all fed up with. – Noah Johnson