Telfar Clemens Wins the 2020 CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year Award

This year has been all about the “Bushwick Birkin” — and the It bag just made Telfar Clemens a CFDA winner.

The Brooklyn-based designer won the CFDA’s 2020 Accessories Designer of the Year award, an honor that in recent years has gone to names like Coach’s Stuart Vevers, Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough and Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row.

The designer’s Telfar bag has been such a hit over the past few months that a summer drop even crashed his site. But the designer has more than just a hit handbag going for him:  After a collaboration with Converse last year, Telfar launched his own footwear line at Pitti Uomo in January, with a loafer style and Western-style boots forthcoming this fall.

Announced Monday at noon via a virtual featuring CFDA chairman Tom Ford as presenter, the awards took mere minutes before they were over. No virtual red carpet, no designer intros or acceptance speeches; just Ford reading the nominees and winners and a slightly robotic, removed voiceover. Designers took to their Instagram pages to deliver makeshift acceptance speeches; Telfar posted a video (original date unknown) of shoppers dancing while wearing multiple versions of his handbag.

Still, the awards had a lot to say. After years of complaints that the same designers were winning the same awards, this year’s winners mark a noticeable shift in diversity, a seeming do-right that fits with the CFDA’s recent equality initiatives both inside the organization and throughout the American fashion industry.

Of the six awards given this year, three of them were given to designers of color: Clemens for Accessories, Christopher John Rogers for American Emerging Designer of the Year and Kerby Jean-Raymond for American Menswear Designer of the Year. Only one woman was given an award, Gabriela Hearst for American Womenswear Designer of the Year.


Below is the full list of 2020 CFDA Fashion Awards winners:

American Womenswear Designer of the Year: Gabriela Hearst
American Menswear Designer of the Year: Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss
American Accessories Designer of the Year: Telfar Clemens for Telfar
American Emerging Designer of the Year: Christopher John Rogers
International Women’s Designer of the Year: Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino
International Men’s Designer of the Year: Kim Jones for Dior

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