The Clermont Twins are the ultimate fashion icons for the internet age
Having built a cult following from reality TV fame, the twins now have their sights set on taking over the industry.
Photography Sam Massey.
There are few recent internet personas quite like Shannon and Shannade Clermont, better known as The Clermont Twins. First emerging into public consciousness via their appearance on season 14 of Bad Girls Club, they swiftly earned cult adoration for their refreshing no-fucks-given attitude. A meticulous approach to self-(re)invention and production earned them the hearts of prominent figures throughout the fashion industry -- they’ve walked the Gypsy Sport runway, are close friends with Telfar, and starred as Kim Kardashian West doppelgängers in the Yeezy Season 6 campaign -- as well as 1.5 million Instagram followers along the way.
Their pursuit of fashion renown eventually led them to found their own brand Mont Boudoir, which, after a brief hiatus, relaunched a fortnight ago with their new 'MONEY' shades, a futuristic visor-like pair in black acetate -- a perfect parallel to the uncompromising aesthetic that the twins have made unmistakably theirs.
It needn’t be said that the twins are unafraid to court scandal. In fact, to a certain extent, it’s a key factor in their success. That said, recent controversies they’ve been involved in have had implications beyond headlines in Page Six and TMZ. Just three months ago, Shannade was released from prison following a year spent serving a conviction for fraud. Still, despite her homecoming during a global lockdown, the twins have put the past behind them and resumed the expansion of the fashion empire that had been building itself so quickly -- from sunglasses to bikinis and beyond.
We caught up with Shannon and Shannade just after their recent Mont Boudoir release to discuss their strategies for self-branding, forging their paths as Black women in the fashion industry and their plans to make it bigger than Mary-Kate and Ashley’s The Row.
Hi girls! How are you? Where are you? And how’s your lockdown been?
Shannon: We’re doing good! We’ve actually just landed back in LA after our first trip out of the city since Covid-19 began! Before that though, we’d just been getting lots of work done on Mont Boudoir -- it's just been a time to be creative, it's been really motivating. We’ve been really lucky though, as we're able to do most of our work from home. It's honestly given us the opportunity to work on all of the things that we wanted to work on this year. Especially with Shannade coming home, we would have jumped into chaos with all the travelling we would have done. But now, because of lockdown, it's just been time to focus on our goals without any distractions, and just enjoy ourselves and the time we have with each other.
What have those goals been?
Shannon: Well, one of our biggest goals was actually launching our sunglasses line through our brand Mont Boudoir. We probably would've launched them a little later, but as we’ve had the opportunity to focus on them, we actually just launched our sunglasses line -- they sold out within 15 minutes!
That’s amazing! I’d love to come back to Mont Boudoir, but it’d be great to start by discussing a brand you’ve been working on since way before then -- yourselves, 'The Clermont Twins'.
Shannon: Yeah, I feel like that's always been our main focus. We do everything together: we work together, we share similar interests and that's what makes working together fun. We've always been about family and sisterhood and fashion. Growing up, we’ve always been about having an idea and just going for it with no fucks given. I feel like that's our brand: it's fun, it's sassy, it's strong, it's cool, it's liberating.
Shannade: It’s risqué.
Shannon: And controversial in a sense. But we just own it, and keep moving forward.
What role has fashion played in building your personal brand?
Shannon: Fashion can be very revolutionary, and it's so much to do with risk-taking. Everything's always changing, everyone always wants something new. I feel like we always come up with something new, something different and things just come out in our favour. Fashion really allows you to be yourself and express yourself, and we do that very openly. So, I think that goes hand in hand with our brand.
Shannade: Yeah, with fashion, there's never really a wrong or right. It's just about being yourself and owning it. And because we have each other, we're always lifting each other up and helping each other. We just do what we want and bring a spunky attitude to it.
There are so many conversations at the moment about the changes we need to see in fashion, and it’d be interesting to hear what your thoughts on that are as two Black women who have independently forged their paths in the industry.
Shannade: I feel like now, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter protests, fashion has a lot to answer for. Being Black women in the fashion industry, we always have to work a lot harder, and it's time for fashion to be more open-minded in letting more of us into the industry. We need to see a lot more Black designers represented, there are so many Black luxury designers out there that we need to know more about. This is the time, you know!
Shannon: We've always had to make a way for ourselves. But I think that's what's so great about our brand. Even if we don't fit in, it’s all about creating a space for ourselves. And I think people in the industry have always respected that. This is who we are, this is what we love, and we're not going to try and fit into what works for you. Either you're gonna like it, or someone else will.
Shannade: Yeah, people just genuinely fuck with us, and we're blessed that people reach out to work with us. Whenever people ask us for advice, we just say you should create your own space for yourself. People can get so discouraged hearing 'no', but 'no' has always inspired us even more. It really pushes us to prove people wrong.
Someone who’s also been quite adamant in creating their own space in fashion is Mowalola, who I saw you were big fans of in a recent post.
Shannon: What we really love about her is that you can really see where her creativity comes from. We love the bright colours and the whole aesthetic. It's just different, she’s not trying to fit in into anything else. Looking at her stuff is like looking at a movie, like a Kill Bill film. It's so inspiring to see.
Shannade: I love the Black and African influences, and the fact that she really puts Black people and Black women on a platform. She really shows that we can be fashionable and unapologetic about it.
Any other designers out there that you currently admire?
Shannon: Yeah, we love Pyer Moss so much.
Shannade: We've been to a few of his shows, and it's always like witnessing history. I feel like NYFW has died down a little, but his last show was such a highlight. I was literally crying because of the choir, the poems... it was history in the making and that's what fashion should be to us. His clothing is so inspirational, he just creates his own lane.
Shannon: We also love Telfar. We've worked with him for a few years, and we've seen such a tremendous elevation in his brand. Just the fact that the Telfar bag is the Bushwick Birkin, I love that. I love that we're creating brands that other people can appreciate besides these huge brands.
Shannade: Honestly, I have like six Telfar bags, gotta collect them all!
Yeah, they're like Pokémon cards, aren't they. Speaking of brands, let's talk more about Mont Boudoir. What’s the story behind the sunglasses you just released?
Shannon: Well, what motivated us to even start with sunglasses is that at Halloween, everyone was dressing up as us, and they were all wearing sunglasses!
Shannade: And we were like, oh, we do wear glasses a lot! [both laugh] I wear them all the time, so I need everyday shades. But also, if I'm in the dark in the club, that's the person I am -- I'll be at a party with glasses on. So we wanted to create something that we could wear all the time, and started off with a staple Black pair.
And what's behind the name of the brand?
Shannon: The 'Mont' comes from our last name, which is French, and then 'Boudoir' came from its meaning of a woman's dressing room. For us, we wanted to create a brand that created pieces that a woman needs in her closet.
Shannade: Essential items. What we first created when we started three years ago were things like slip dresses that could be worn as lingerie or out to the club. Or a simple bodysuit, or nice pants. Outfits that you can really switch up. It was about creating a whole closet.
Where do you think you'll be taking it next?
Shannon: We're gonna be dropping another pair of shades in the fall. It’ll be the same frame, just with different lenses. They’re all gonna be monochromatic colours. Our next ones will be a clear white, and then all red, all pink, all blue...
Shannade: We've also been working on launching a Mont Boudoir bikini line, which started with me knitting and crocheting while in jail! I was making sample pieces, and we were just designing and sketching together, sending each other ideas back and forth. We’ve now come up with the Jailbreak Collection, which is inspired by what we've been through these past couple of years.
I once read that you have ambitions to become as big as The Row. Is that still the case?
Shannon: Absolutely. That's the main thing for us, creating a brand that holds its own and lives on past us. We want to be bigger than people can imagine, we want to take Mont Boudoir into stores, or even collaborate with Farfetch or SSENSE.
Shannade: And ultimately, we want to be even bigger than Mary-Kate and Ashley, we want to make our Clermont brand a household name in itself.
Photography Sam Massey