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‘Setting the Bar and Raising It’: Creator of Black Luxury Brand Telfar Tapped to Design Olympic Uniforms for Liberia Track and Field Team

Fashion designer Telfar Clemens, best known for his highly sought-out luxury bags, is taking his skills to his family’s motherland. The Queens native, who is building a name for himself for his signature vegan leather tote bag, will design the uniforms for the Olympic team for Liberia.

On Monday, June 21, Telfar’s official Instagram page confirmed the news reported by The New York Times that revealed the company would be the official sponsor of the five-member African team. Telfar also would be pivoting to athletic wear, with the first collection featuring suits for Liberia’s track and field team. 

Telfar Clemens of Telfar is tapped to design Liberia’s Olympic uniforms for the country’s track and field team. Photo @telfarglobal/Instagram

“TELFAR Is the OFFICIAL SPONSOR of the LIBERIAN NATIONAL TEAM 🇱🇷🇱🇷,” the caption read. “Watch the OPENING CEREMONY [July 23] of the 2021 OLYMPICS to see the FUTURE. Our Runway. Run way. THANK YOU @matadi and Kouty Mawenh — WE ALL- WE READY – WE WON – WE ALL READY WON. 🥇🥇 #REPATRIATION .”

The collaboration seemingly came about after one of the five runners, Emmanuel Matadi, decided to contact the designer who is Liberian-American, after learning about his popular bag from his girlfriend. The 36-year-old almost instantly said yes — despite how expensive it is to sponsor a team, and prior to this opportunity, he hadn’t designed athletic wear. Yet, in four months, he made 70 pieces for the team, including sweats, unitards, duffel bags and track spikes, featuring the Liberian flag and the Telfar emblem. While talking to the Times, the designer revealed that “the athletes are testing the gear now, and it is being tweaked to performance specifications.”

The uniforms — a unisex design of a one-shouldered tank with track pants or shorts — reportedly will feature a blue-and-white colorway, a star across the side of the chest, the Olympics logo, Liberian flag and Telfar’s logo.

Supporters flocked to social media with excitement over the partnership.“🇱🇷 that’s history right there!! And to see my bro @matadiin this 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥,” wrote one Instagram user. Another person commented, “As a Liberian I’m so super proud and happy about this.”

“🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥Legendary! You keep setting the bar and raising it,” expressed a third. 

Fans of the unisex marked brand also will get a chance to purchase pieces from the Olympic-inspired collection after the competition. The announcement will be made on Instagram like with his other items, and a more extensive line of workout and athletic gear is set to launch later this fall. 

Clemens joins a group of veteran designers who’ve had their work featured at the Olympics, including Ralph Lauren, who routinely designs for Team USA, Issey Miyake, who was hired for Lithuania in 1992 and English designer Stella McCartney, who crafted Great Britain’s uniforms for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

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