As the world prepares to head to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics, things are a little different than the previous years.
From empty stadium seats to backlash from Japanese citizens having their city serve as the host — the games will certainly be nothing like what we’ve ever seen before.
Over the past two decades track and field competitors of the Liberian Olympic delegation have been seen sporting Nike, adidas, and other sportswear machines, but this year they’ve taken it up a notch with uniforms produced by Telfar Clemens, The New York Times reports.
The Liberian-American designer has singlehandedly disrupted the fashion system with his guaranteed to be sold-out bags, deemed as Bushwick Birkins, and a direct-to-consumer business model which has made him a pandemic success story.
Clemens has now designed genetically spliced unisex designs not just for both the opening and closing ceremonies but his one-shouldered tank along with the track pants/shorts will be worn to the Olympic Village and the competition.
Merch will also be available for purchase.
“It’s all the things you can’t find,” said Clemens. “They said, ‘Go crazy.’ So I did.”
He’s bringing an out-of-the-ordinary design to the summer games and has a plan to take his Olympics moment to his loyal fan base.
Among the delegation sporting his gear is Emmanuel Matadi who has been running for Liberia since 2016 and is currently ranked 23rd in the world in the 200 and 25th in the 100.
Matadi got the idea to tap Clemens to design Liberia’s uniforms after his girlfriend raved about his bags.
“I didn’t even know if he made clothes,” said Matadi.
However, Matadi did know that Clemens was Liberian. So, he mentioned the idea to Liberia’s Olympic attaché and a former Olympic competitor, Kouty Mawenh. Of course Mawenh thought the idea was one they should bring to life to merge Liberian talent.
“He’s an elite athlete in his space, just like we are,” he said.
As the recipient of the National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt and the Accessories Designer of the Year Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Clemens is hitting the scene pretty decorated too.
Now, with the biggest outside investment that Telfar has ever made, Clemens was immediately on board despite the fact that he’s never designed performance gear. Although he had been contemplating a line of athletic clothing with his artistic director and Babak Radboy for a while.
Fortunately, the Olympic project is the perfect chance for them to make the new move.
Over the past four months, Clemens and his team have created around 70 pieces — from leggings to unitards to sweats, duffel bags, and even racing spikes.
“It will be an evergreen collection,” said Clemens. “These are clothes we want to sell for the rest of our lives.”
He also shares that the team is equally as excited as the athletes to see the designs worn throughout the summer games.