The new “it” shopping bag: Telfar


Graphic by Max Wix

McKenzie Barner

What is the fascination behind the Telfar Shopping Bag, and why is everyone itching to get their hands on them? Could it be the practicality, the affordable price point, the vegan leather, or that it is marketed as a unisex bag? 

The new ‘it’ bag, dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin,” is in high demand and is constantly out of stock due to consumers waiting on the website to purchase as soon as it is released monthly. Celebrities such as Bella Hadid and A$AP Ferg have been spotted wearing the bag, thus heightening its demand. This has led people to use bots to purchase the bags in bulk and resell for higher prices, making it nearly impossible to buy. Telfar bags are quickly becoming an iconic staple in fashion that is as notable as a Hermès ‘Birkin’ or a Louis Vuitton ‘Speedy.’ The hype around this bag isn’t that it’s the most expensive on the market, but that it’s exclusive. Telfar began to catch a social media buzz, with many people expressing their frustration and disappointment of not being able to catch the restock, while others bragging about their achievements of buying one just in time. “Trying to get a Telfar bag is like the Hunger Games,” wrote one Twitter user. Another wrote, “Small bubblegum pink Telfar….. SECURED!” with a Nene Leakes meme attached. Telfar Clemens, founder of Telfar, reacted to the frenzy over his bags saying, “It’s beautiful.”

In 2005, Telfar Clemens introduced his brand which consists of clothing and accessories, the most popular item being the Telfar Shopping Bag. The bag is made of vegan leather, with the signature “T” logo largely branded on the front, and a fairly inexpensive price range from $150 to $257 for a high end bag. There are 18 different colorways and three different size options. Although his brand was founded 15 years ago, Clemens won the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition in which he won a $400,000 grant that helped catapult his business and from there, he quickly gained attention in a short timespan of three years. 

The success of the Telfar brand is groundbreaking for future and upcoming Black fashion designers because of the very limited number of Black luxury fashion brands, as well as an incredible lack of diversity in high end, luxury brands. There are countless Black fashion designers that are trying to be recognized for their craft, but because of systemic racism present in the fashion industry, a lot of them go unnoticed and aren’t taken seriously as their white counterparts. Telfar Clemens is a testament to the creativity and innovation in Black creators and the success of his brand proves that Black fashion designers deserve to be given more opportunities to showcase their abilities.