The Telfar bag was first produced in 2014. It didn’t become an instant success at the time but is today one of the hottest products among luxury accessories, with a global reach stretching from the US to Singapore and beyond.
The shopping bag is part of the eponymous brand founded in 2005 in New York City by Liberian-American fashion designer Telfar Clemens. The bag has gained tremendous popularity among the who’s who of American high society and was famously called “Bushwick Birkin” by makeup artist Xya Rachel.
The bag was first introduced by Clemens at his Autumn/Winter 2014 runway show, but it took another three years for its wider production. Clemens used the funds from his USD 400,000 CFDA/Vogue Fashion award to produce more Telfar bags.
“The idea for the bag came during Christmas years ago. Just looking at everyone with their paper shopping bags, I realised that this is a completely unisex silhouette,” Clemens told The Guardian in 2020.
“We measured a Bloomingdale’s bag to make the first sample. When it came to the price, I based it on what a DJ might make in a night; that’s what felt right for me,” he said.
The tote is not the only thing that the Telfar brand produces; there is everything from apparel to shoes bearing the brand name.
However, the bag is particularly sought after, largely because it has been championed by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Selena Gomez and Beyoncé.
Moreover, observers note that the rise of the recent civil rights movements in the US has also contributed to the popularity of the bag. As a brand, Telfar increasingly found support, recognition and reach, as more and more people continued turning towards businesses owned by African Americans.
Clemens’ vision for the brand as a 100 percent unisex fashion enterprise has also contributed to its image-building in the market.
Clemens told The Guardian that the money he got from CFDA helped “actually make a program around selling” the bags.
“When we ordered 100 bags, it was the biggest order we had ever made for our website. They sold out overnight, so we bought 300, then 1,000,” he said.
Telfar bags come in three sizes — small, medium and large. They come in a wide range of colours, including black, white, dark olive, tan, oxblood, red, bubblegum pink, silver, gold, copper and pool blue.
The bags are known for their adaptability and have both formal and informal usage. They can, thus, be used as office bags or can be even worn as an accessory to celebrity red-carpet events.
Telfar shopping bags are the most popular of all the bags that the brand produces and are the ones that actually made it famous. However, Telfar also produces duffles and circle bags in three sizes each. The colour range for the two appears to be limited to white, chocolate and black.
Telfar bag is a luxury product and celebrities proudly flaunt it. Yet its most famous offering, the Telfar shopping bag, is priced at the range of USD 150 to USD 257. Many consider the price range affordable.
The Telfar duffle bag is sold in the range of USD 250 to USD 450, depending on the size. The round Telfar circle bag has the highest price tag of USD 567 for any of its colours.
Clemens collaborated with the Liberian Olympic team as its official sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Telfar has also launched collaboration collections with Ugg, Moose Knuckles, White Castle, Converse and Eastpak. Items from each collection are available for sale on Telfar’s official website.
There is also the Bag Security Program that the brand launched with Klarna. The scheme helps customers pre-order totes in any size or colour. The plan helps fans get the bag of their choice immediately upon release, especially since they get sold out instantly. The scheme, however, does not extend to collaborations, circle bags and duffle bags.
(Main and Featured images: Telfar)
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