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Telfar SS09

Models on bikes circle a basketball court in Telfar's athletic basics collection – we speak to the designer about his inspirations, gender, and Japan

A brick-covered gymnasium proved to be the ideal location for Telfar Clemens’ spring 2009 show. The 23-year-old designer added his unique touch to summer basics by creating convertible pieces for every fashionable body on the go. Oiled models came walking and biking down a rubber runway lined with yellow reflector strips before striking a pose on square pieces of Astroturf before photographers.

Utility was key. A chambray denim jumpsuit with detachable arms and legs can be buttoned and unbutton to a number of different looks from spring to summer. Mesh jackets with drawstring bags attached at the back that can be work on or off the shoulders. Leg and arm braces were used to hold keys, iPods and cell phones for easy access. Wide legged shorts resembling tennis skirts featured the brand’s signature two-compartment pockets. Solomon Chase supplied shoes for the show including a heeled sneaker resting on tennis balls. Clemens, who is an avid bike rider, was also gracious of Bike Friday for supplying foldable bikes for the show. They will be available for purchase online.

Clemens describes his work as “simplexity,” the sport of taking something simple, but adding different dimensions to it to create something entire new with just a snap, button, zip, twist, fold, or tuck. In addition to his spring collection, Clemens will be releasing a denim line, as well as a new collection of jewelry later this year.

What inspires you?
Telfar Clemens: It depends on what’s going on in the world right now. I’m not as inspired until the season comes. It just hit me that my show is over. This summer, what I was thinking about and what I saw, I just recreated what I wanted to see. People get active when it gets warmer. It’s really funny to be fashionable about it. I wanted to recreate summer basics.

Your clothes are not gender-specific. Why is that?
Telfar Clemens: Everything is based on utility. I try to design very unisex. If something looks good on you, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a man or a woman. That’s how I have always felt about clothes.

What does fashion mean to you?
Telfar Clemens: It means everything, yet it means nothing. I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just what I like to do. I think it’s a great thing. I just wish that the economy would allow people to do it in New York City.

What’s is in fashion?
Telfar Clemens: Anything can be “in” at any time for me. I think people do have a stream of consciousness. Sometimes, certain designers will have the same thought. What goes around is what people talk about. They’re doing it without even knowing it.

Your line is gaining notoriety in Japan. Have you been there?
Telfar Clemens: I’m awaiting arrival. Awaiting. Awaiting. I want to go. It’s my first season. I just sent my winter collection there. I’m excited. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not sure what the world has in store for me.