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Issue 17 Out Now

THE NEW IT BAG

Updated: Jun 16, 2022


(Left to right) Telfar Clemens & Ahston Sanders for the met gala

Telfar is a fashion brand founded in 2005 by Telfar Clemens a Liberian-American designer. Telfar is known for making unisex clothing, being easily accessible, creating a space for black queer folk, and most importantly the Telfar bag.


Telfar represents the intersection and navigation between black queerness and fashion. This intersection is met by various garments that defy the binaries of women’s and men’s luxury fashion and features a deeper commentary. Telfar makes commentary on identity, American culture, and consumerism.


Since 2005 Telfar has been making unisex clothing before the rise of brands redirecting to seem more inclusive of various identities. The commentary on American culture and consumerism shown in Telfar’s White Castle and Budweiser collaborations.



Telfar x White Castle- Shop.telfar.net

In their 2014 winter collection Telfar created the Telfar bag. The Telfar bag features an embossed logo with a T (T for Telfar) connected to a C (C for Clemens). Telfars bags were not an instant success Clemens says “It takes time. It takes years in fact. When we first made the bag we almost lost money on every bag we sold because we were committed to a very specific price point” (Clemens 2020). Although the bag was not an instant success it slowly amassed a cult following leading to its meteoric rise in 2020.


And according to the Wall Street Journal Telfars annual revenue went from $100,000 to $1.6 million dollars within a two year span.


Telfar first started gaining further traction in 2017 with the CFDA/Vogue fashion fund which totals to $400,000. Telfar used this fund to diversify their bags by adding 3 different sizes and 20 new colors.

With updates to their bags, Telfar began to sell out every bag they had with each drop. Telfar became high in demand because of its practicality as a bag, having a unisex appeal to all buyers, and being incredibly stylish.


Compared to other luxury brands and their bags Telfar ($150–$257) is leagues cheaper than other high-end luxury bags like the Hermes Birkin bag and the Jacquemus bag. Telfars ideals on inclusivity reflect in their price point making Telfar an affordable and obtainable choice.


The Telfar bag has created a space for the black queer community in fashion, has always been about diversity and being inclusive. On the tag of Telfars garments, you can find the saying “Not For You, For Everyone”(clemens 2005). This statement relates to their prices in all of their products, Telfar is a brand for people of all economic backgrounds and identities.


Telfar has consistently shown itself not as an exclusive brand where fashion is usually all about exclusivity. This bag has become a cult favorite in America where even politicians wear them.


Telfar has broken what luxury fashion is with his bags and garments creating a new status bag not one of wealth but “about identity, about experience, about how it feels to move through the world” (Clemens 2020).



BBYMUTHA for Telfar

Resources:

Katz, Evan Ross. “Telfar Clemens Knows the Future Is a Flash Sale.” PAPER, PAPER, 31 Aug. 2020, www.papermag.com/telfar-clemens-wear-me-out-interview-2647075174.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1.

Smith, Ray A. “An ‘It Bag’ That Broke Fashion’s Rules.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 14 May 2019, www.wsj.com/articles/an-it-bag-that-broke-fashions-rules-11557838586.


Yotka, Steff. “Telfar Wins the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2017.” Vogue, Vogue, 6 Nov. 2017, www.vogue.com/article/cfda-vogue-fashion-fund-2017-winner-telfar.


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