An interview with the Special Project of Pitti Uomo 97

TELFAR is the Special Project of Pitti Uomo 97.
The revolutionary unisex brand, that has been promoting an idea of inclusive and accessible fashion and business blending aesthetics, art, gender identity and functionality, was founded in 2005 by Telfar Clemens. We interviewed him, ahead of the Pitti Uomo special event scheduled for Thursday, January 9, at Palazzo Corsini.
From unisex clothing to pop-ups, you’ve anticipated so much of what would become central to the contemporary fashion scene: where is your vision taking you next?
TELFAR: We really want to operate as a business in the same way we do creatively - that is - not like other people do. Right now we are interested in operating more like music and TV - finding a completely different channel to communicate through.
Telfar’s Shopping Bag has become a cult item, at an affordable price. What’s it like for an avantgarde brand to do mainstream and find widespread success?
It’s beautiful. We have always wanted to operate on a certain level in a very American way - like Ralph Lauren and Gap... so the popularity of the bag is just beautiful. We see posts tagged in Alabama and Chattanooga and Baltimore and it’s just a dream. There are no fashion stores in those cities - but there is style everywhere.
How important is the fashion show moment, in your creative process?
Right now it’s central. I think the clothes are one half and the show is what they do  - how and what they finally express.
And what does the Pitti Uomo fashion show, in particular, mean to you?
To be honest it’s an honor because even if we didn’t need it it has meant a lot in the last two seasons to be recognized by the European fashion system. It felt good to be embraced after our first show in Paris and Pitti is really a beacon in the fashion world. This is the 97th season - it’s as established as it could possibly be while staying very much about what is new with real substance.
You’ve said you want to make Telfar – an American brand – more global. What do you mean with that? And what are the challenges of doing it?
It’s not a matter of American vs Global. A small town in NY is further away to the city than Shanghai. We want to be everywhere the way music is everywhere. The way it blurs borders.
You’ve started producing in Italy. How has it been working here?
 It’s pretty great.
Does the theme of moving and migrating play a role in the collection you will show in Florence?
It always does, but it’s never been as obvious as the press likes to describe it! For us we have had to create a world to exist in - because the one we had was uninhabitable... So that can be called survival until you find success and it becomes innovative branding. But really it is a form of travel.. but to a place that doesn’t yet exist. That doesn’t exist until you arrive. That is migration.
What has your experience of Italy and Italian fashion been like?