For his Fall 2013 New York fashion week presentation, TELFAR‘s Telfar Clemens is letting the people style his clothes. ‘Quilted/Comfort’ is the title of his concept collection, and it’s developing like this: for the last couple weeks, template garments—un-dyed pants, tops, etc. of quilted denim and flannel—have been hosted IRL at Midtown’s New York Gallery and online at DIS Magazine. Members of the public were invited to color and style the blank TELFAR garments on a manly mannequin designed by Lizzie Fitch with Nick Rodrigues and in an interactive game designed by Alan Schaffer. Participants could then submit their looks for runway consideration. The winning looks (judged by Telfar and DIS) will be dyed and styled on living, breathing, catwalking models at Telfar’s Fall 2013 fashion show.
We caught up with Telfar Clemens at the Times Square adjacent gallery where his collection was on display. There we talked Midtown, mobility, and why the future is now.
I read an interview where you said you were really into 42nd street, so I thought it was perfect that when I Google Mapped this gallery, it was right there.
You know, when you think of New York, you think of Times Square. Are you going to Times Square? It’s kind of like the place you hate the most if you actually live here. But I love it so much now, because over the last year, everything’s relocated in this area for me. It’s like, why would you wanna be anywhere else when you could be in Times Square?
When I have to change subways at 42nd Street, I always get excited because the wildest people are here. I end up taking notes on the types of people I see.
And that’s the thing that I like too. There’s no specific person. It’s a crossing place so it’s just whatever you get, and it’s accidental. It’s just like a stop off in time…
‘Quilted/Comfort’ is another manifestation of your ‘Shop-Mobile’ moveable parts collection presentations. I was reading that ‘Shop-Mobile’ was inspired by the Canal Street storefronts.
Yeah, Shop-Mobile was based off of a Canal Street way of doing business. When you used to go down there, when they would be selling illegally, they would have to pack up really quickly. So they would have this contraption where you close the gate, you take your bags in the back, and run. I wanted to have a similar mentality—a mobile shop—so my friend and collaborator Lizzie Fitch teamed up with Nick Rodrigues and they built Shop-Mobile for me. Each season, they add to the interior based on my needs. Like, this season, I needed a mirror. So they created a mirror that folds up; it even comes with a bag. I wanted the shop to be able to pop up in a supermarket, on a street corner. It takes about an hour to do the full set-up, so it’s not necessarily as quick and full-proof if you’re running away from police, but it’s really useful and it’s going to be traveling all over the world.
Where it traveling next?
It’s definitely going to Paris for my debut at Men’s Fashion Week in July. From there, it’s going to be in several places—you’ll see.
It allows for a freedom of mobility, which also connects to the online game you made for ‘Quilted/Comfort’; that’s a globally accessible project.
I always try and present my fashion week collections in a different way. For past seasons, I’ve worked with different artists to pre-tape the runway show. This season, I’ll be hosting a live presentation. It’s kind of like moving from back to front, because the collection’s complete, but then the community is going to add something to that, and the final product is at the runway show, but people have seen the collection because they’ve come to the installation or been online. It’s really cool to have a community of people involved in the design. It’s the trendiest thing next to trends. It’s like, Oh, well this person from Iowa made this look! That’s what I wanted to get out of the game results. I wanted this collection to really dictate what 2013’s about.
What is 2013 about? What else do you see happening? In your practice? In the world?
I feel people are moving forward in terms of what clothes can be conceptually. I think the lines between formal, informal, and loungewear are just going to get completely sloppy, in ways I can’t even predict. I’m interested to see how that’s going to play out as far as what people actually wear. Like where and how. I want to explore all different avenues of clothes. That’s why I’m really happy that everything is so fluid right now. Whatever goes.