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Telfar Clemens - Pioneers Who Have Shaped America's Fashion Industry

Telfar Clemens was born to native Liberian parents in Queens New York. In 2002 Clemens moved to New York to pursue a career in modelling. In 2003 he began to create his own collection of deconstructed and reconstructed vintage clothes which he sold in the Lower East Side and Soho boutiques in New York City. In 2005, while still a student at Pace University, Clemens founded his eponymous, unisex fashion brand, Telfar.

He designed uniforms for 400 White Castle franchises and all proceeds from the partnership went to bail funds for teenagers imprisoned on Rikers Island. The same year, Clemens won the CDFA/Vogue Fashion Fund. The $400,000 prize allowed him to steadily produce Telfar’s popular Shopping Bags. The Telfar Shopping Bag has been called an “it-bag” and “the decade’s most important accessory” by major fashion publications. The bag, originally modelled after shopping bags from Bloomingdale’s, is colloquially known as the “Bushwick Birkin” due to its combination of it-bag status and accessibility.


Image: Time100-Next-Telfar-Clemens_Telfar Clemens for Time Magazine feb 2021_Image by Quil Lemons.

Text: Haute Fashion Africa ‘Telfar Clemens’. Available at:

Black Art Fashion ‘Profile: Telfar Clemens (1985-)’. Available at:

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