During a tough year when much of the fashion industry was forced to shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions and cancellations, one up-and-coming designer said he had “the best year.” In 2020, Telfar Clemens, a queer Liberian-American fashion designer, changed his business strategy just before the pandemic struck.
Clemens, whose line of clothing and accessories goes by simply “Telfar,” has won quite a few prestigious awards while promoting a “gospel of inclusivity” for the past fifteen years. What's the 35-year-old’s net worth today?
What does Telfar Clemens do?
Clemens, a designer of unisex clothing, launched his business, Telfar, in 2005 in New York City. His slogan is “It’s not for you—it’s for everyone.” Babak Radboy has been his business partner since 2013, but Clemens owns 100 percent of the business.
Telfar’s clothing is generally made up of casual items, such as jeans, track pants, and hoodies, that he reimagines to fit his style.
His company enjoyed a great year in 2020, largely thanks to a major shift in strategy. As The New York Times reported in Dec. 2020, Clemens had decided to avoid invitations to major events such as the Met Gala and move away from the wholesale business.
Clemens said that although he didn’t know it at the time, "When Covid came, rather than knocking us down like everyone else, we just rode that wave.”
One of Clemens’s most renowned products is his vegan leather shopping bag, which Lyst noted was one of the most popular items of 2020, seeing a 270 percent increase in searches from Aug. to Dec. 2020.
That shopping bag has garnered celebrity attention from the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Oprah Winfrey, who named it one of her famed “favorite things.” Priced at $150–$257, GQ called it a “delicious collision of status and affordability.” Most status-symbol items tend to run at much higher prices.
Awards Telfar Clemens has won
The Guardian said, “Telfar has upended the idea of luxury fashion as white, privileged and purely aspirational.” Illustrating that concept is his recently designed line of luxury durags, which have been banned by organizations like the NBA, the NFL, malls, schools, and workplaces.
The following are some of Clemens’s notable successes:
London’s Design Museum's Fashion Design of 2020 Award.
Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for best accessories designer.
Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for fashion design.
GQ Designer of the Year.
PETA Award for Most Wanted for his handbags.
CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize in 2017.
He was invited to be the guest designer at the Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence, Italy. The Telfar brand has also recently collaborated with Ugg and Nike-owned Converse and is reportedly considering more collaborations with other well-known brands.
Telfar Clemens’s net worth
Although Clemens’s exact net worth is not known, People.ai estimates him to be worth about $2 million. Clemens, largely unknown in the fashion world before 2020, seems amused with how industry gatekeepers are now flocking to work with him.