And the heartwarming Olympic stories have begun
July 23, 2021 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Did You See What the Liberian Olympic Team is Wearing? [SLNTY] "Mr. Clemens is a Liberian American designer who founded his own company in 2004 with the motto, “Not for you, for everyone.” He was creating deconstructed unisex basics aimed at subcultures long rejected or neglected by the establishment fashion world long before diversity was an imperative and gender fluidity a movement, and has always been more interested in building a modern community than catering to the status quo.

Walking around Liberia, said Mr. Clemens, “I realized the clothes of the place I am from and the clothes I am making are already the same thing.” According to Ayodeji Olukoju’s 2006 book “Culture and Customs of Liberia,” many of the country’s youth wear second-hand clothing from the Western world, and Mr. Clemens said as far as he could tell from his visit, that had not changed. The off-center proportions and customizations are echoed in Mr. Clemens’ own work."
posted by duien (12 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I really love the designs and how they've remixed elements in a different way than I'm used to seeing. It's something really different than the typical western "androgynous" look, and it's a lot of fun.
posted by duien at 3:00 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]

I love these clothes, they look like now and the future, and those other 'designer' duds-- looking at you, Italy, US, France, etc-- look like painful colonial memories of private schools, not athletic wear.
posted by winesong at 3:18 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]

The basketball jersey gown makes so much sense. How have we not been doing that this whole time?

Here’s hoping Liberia brings home a medal and looks great doing it.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:57 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]

They look like they’re going to trip in those long things.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:59 PM on July 23 mirror so that people can read this article.
posted by explosion at 5:06 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]

Those are great clothes!
posted by clew at 5:12 PM on July 23

The article mentions the civil war briefly, and I was immediately reminded of the gender-bending clothing of that war. I wonder if the designers made any of the same connections, or if it's all in my head.
posted by clawsoon at 5:14 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]

I was immediately reminded of the gender-bending clothing of that war

Sounds intriguing, any more to share?
posted by biffa at 5:22 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]

There's a bit about it in this old Slate article, which seems to have lost both its free access and its pictures. I first learned about it from the documentary The Redemption of General Butt Naked.
posted by clawsoon at 9:13 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]

I should add some kind of content warning to all that, because the Liberian civil war was horrific. That's probably why these folks want to create new, more hopeful images of Liberia for us to think of.
posted by clawsoon at 9:30 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]

Here are some other pictures of the Olympics designs (I couldn't see most of the pictures in the NYT article). Also Telfar's instagram.

Liberia has draconian (and relatively recent) anti-LBGT laws. I wonder how much local press Telfar's open orientation and his focus on changing gender conventions in his clothing have gotten and how he's been received (I tried looking for coverage in Liberian news but couldn't find much online and don't know how to evaluate the sources I did find).
posted by trig at 3:03 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]

This is excellent! I confess that, aside from some nice winter coats and windbreakers, the Ralph Lauren Team USA clothes always look very cringe to me. I wish the US Olympics Org would switch things up occasionally (they will not).
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:21 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]

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