When I say Tiffany’s, what comes to mind? The signature robin egg blue, the hit movie starring Audrey Hepburn, and/or the Tiffany Yellow Diamond? How about Hermès? The Birkin bag, the classic orange, and/or the Kelly bag? How about Givenchy? Christian Louboutin? Chanel?
Whether it’s a movie, a color, or a product, luxury brands have their it-items that immortalize their work. Soon enough, it becomes people’s life-long dreams to get a brand’s it-item. For the New-York based brand Telfar, it’s the Shopping Bag. Called “the decade’s most important accessory,” the Shopping Bag comes in a plethora of colors and sizes. As a testament to their popularity, they are sold out in every one of those colors and sizes.
Although the Shopping Bag recently rose to prominence, Telfar has been around since 2005 when designer Telfar Clemens founded the brand while still studying at Pace University. “Become a queer, Liberian-American eighteen year old, travel back to 2004 and establish a 100% unisex fashion line in New York City,” ran Telfar’s official bio. “Try to make clothes that do not exist on the market – just as you don’t exist in the world.” With Telfar, Clemens began meeting fashion’s need for diversity, ubiquity, and identity long before other mainstream brands did.
Given Telfar’s historic run, it is no surprise that the brand continues to set trends. With the tagline “Not for you – for everyone,” Telfar is setting the trend of making luxury it-items accessible. Before the August 19th drop of bags, in which bags were sold out in minutes, Telfar introduced the Telfar Bag Security Program. The program (which has been temporarily deactivated) allowed customers to buy “every size and color for unlimited pre-order” for a 24-hour period. After paying for the bag upfront, Telfar will make and deliver them between December 2020 and January 2021. In a statement leading up to the drop, Telfar assured its consumers that they are “not about the hype and scarcity” and that they didn’t want to make it “impossible to get product.” This model is in stark contrast to the release of the Hermés Birkin bag, which is highly exclusive and costly. The Telfar Shopping Bag, also known as the “Bushwick Birkin,” has been frequently compared to the Birkin, bringing the Telfar bag to even higher prominence.
Economically, this is an interesting model – as more and more people are willing and able to buy Telfar bags, won’t demand decline just as quickly? Senior Lexxi Clinton doesn’t think so. “The bags [are] fantastic and really trendy,” Clinton says. As an owner of multiple Telfar items, Clinton can speak to how versatile and chic the Telfar bag is. “The medium [bag] is great for going to an interview, the large is great for travel, and the small is great for brunch with the girls,” Clinton highlights. But, for Clinton and many other Telfar customers, the brand means more than just the fashion. “I’m always interested in supporting a Black owned business,” Clinton notes, “[and] their tagline demonstrates inclusivity that the fashion world is lacking.”
Telfar’s ability to connect with their customers beyond the transaction is what makes the brand and their products even more lovable. This connection could make Telfar a long-time luxury brand alongside Hermès, Chanel, and Givenchy among others. Telfar’s commitment to accessibility in fashion could change the luxury world. For now, cross your fingers and purchase the Telfar bag of your dreams.