Telfar Clemens, the Liberian-American designer, is known for his radical inclusivity, encapsulated by his slogan, “It’s not for you. It’s for everyone.”
He only designs unisex garments and he deliberately prices his products to be more affordable than other designers. His famous tote bag—sometimes known as the Bushwick Birkin, beloved by Issa Rae and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—cost between $150 and $257. While he dresses celebrities, he also designs the uniforms for White Castle’s 10,000 employees. And now, he’s bringing his vision to activewear, with a new performance collection that launches today, inspired by his work sponsoring and designing the uniforms for the Liberian Olympic team at the Tokyo Games last year.
Sponsoring the uniforms for an Olympic team is no small feat since it includes creating garments for the five track-and-field athletes as well as support staff, and also paying for travel and food. As an independent fashion designer, Clemens says this was his biggest outside investment his company has made. But this project gave him the opportunity to begin designing activewear. He brings his unique aesthetic sensibilities to the 14 styles that are now available to the public.
These pieces were engineered for sports—with compression, sweat-wicking materials. But the brand makes it clear they’re designed for both “athletes and aesthetes,” and will look good outside the gym as well. The world of fashionable, high-performance activewear has been evolving, thanks to recent projects like Nike’s Serena Williams Design Crew and Lululemon’s high-fashion Lab collection. But Clemens pushes the industry a step further with these sleek, androgynous pieces that you could wear to a party.
Clemens is known for his asymmetrical, one-shoulder tops, and he creates performance versions of that look here, in tank tops and bodysuits. Tracksuits feature thin spaghetti straps across the back. And there is also a hijab in the mix. The pieces cost between $57 and $198, and are available in sizes XS to XXL.