Telfar designer portrait.

It’s been over a year since Telfar Clemens won the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and he’s used the money — $400,000 — to double down on all of the principles that distinguish Telfar as Telfar: genderless clothing, inclusivity and sportswear that’s just left of center.

But beyond that, the win has given Clemens the opportunity to amplify his community, and, in turn, welcome more people into it. His first show after receiving the award, which took place in February, was a moving experience titled “Music.” He and his creative partner, Babak Radboy, organized an intimate concert at Spring Street Studios directed by musicians Dev Hynes and Ian Isiah.

For his spring 2019 show, the conditions weren’t as ideal: It was raining and took place outside at Blade, a helipad next to the East River, but the effect was still rousing. Once again, Isiah pulled together a roster of performers to help articulate Clemens’ clear vision.

But that vision isn’t only relegated to aesthetics and vibes. Clemens is a prudent businessman, which is why the line has sustained for over a decade. With more resources, he’s been able to increase retail distribution, host one-off, direct-to-consumer shopping events, and build a core line of leather accessories — tote bags, belts and hats — that have become cool customer emblems and driven growth. Clemens always said he wanted to be the next Michael Kors, and the designer is redefining what that could look like.

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