On July 23rd, 2020, Telfar’s online restock was so heavily trafficked that the entire site crashed. Yes, the hype is that real. Now, less than a month later, the brand has a new approach to combatting the issues they’ve been facing, issues that arise when your product sells out in seconds, literally. Considering the history of luxury/high-end fashion, this approach is a radical one, at that.
Telfar describes its signature Shopping Bag as an “everyday bag for everyone”, and from what we’ve seen, they really mean it. Ironically dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin”, the Telfar Shopping Bag retails from $150 to $257USD, and is available in a variety of colours and sizes. However, these relatively affordable handbags have been moving like hotcakes, making getting one’s hands on them damn near in possible for many would-be shoppers.
Tweets were rung out, many bitterly and hilariously lamenting about yet another unsuccessful drop, rumours swirled that bots were to blame, and “Telfar” spent the day trending on Twitter in the US. It wasn’t long before listings on sites like Grailed, Depop and Ebay began popping up, listing the bags for, more often than not, triple their retail price. Telfar even took temporary, heightened security measures after one reseller page claimed to have “destroyed the Telfar restock” by buying up 60% of the drop. “Telfar is for the people. Not bots. Store on ice while we root them out” was posted to the Telfar Instagram story, explaining why the brand’s site had gone under password-protection. Even I, despite being lucky enough to already own a Telfar bag, or two, was feeling the struggle, on and offline. I mean, I’ve had tasteful strangers on the train ask me how I manage to get my hands on one. Things were starting to feel a little too Supreme-y.
Enter: the Telfar “Bag Security Program”
“We are not about hype and scarcity. The whole point of our bag is accessibility and community” read the post accompanying the Insta-announcement posted early August 17th, “We feel all the love we are getting, and we feel the frustration too.” their website site reads ,”The truth is (with or without the bots and resellers) when thousands of bags sell per second we can’t even know how many to make. We plan production 6 months in advance. It takes time and money to make bags and we are 100% self-financed.” Their solution? On Wednesday, August 19th, Telfar will be offering every size and colour, for unlimited pre-order, for 24 hours.
Not only is the Telfar “Bag Security Program” amazing news for all fans who have yet receive the good fortune of securing their bag of choice, but it’s also amazing news for the world of fashion. Telfar is rewriting the rules of luxury fashion, by, quite literally, redefining what it means to buy and own a luxury product. The Telfar “Bag Security Program” is a progressive and responsive solution to the problems faced by the brand, problems faced by the fashion industry as a whole. High-end/luxury fashion rests upon, or rather, is built upon the idea of exclusivity. Brands know this, they want this, and they perpetuate this because it’s that exclusivity, that hype, that sells products. And keeps them selling, drop after drop. By making products accessible, both in price and quite literally, Telfar, a black-owned, non-gendered fashion project, is dismantling the very notion that high-end/luxury fashion rests upon.
We’ve seen now, more than ever, the nasty role things like colonialism and capitalism play in our daily lives, most importantly, in the lives of marginalized people all over the world. And while I’ve seen some strides in terms of learning and unlearning, the fashion industry always seems to be in last place (not that I’m surprised given the gross exploitation the industry is forever trying to sweep under the rug). So, watching a black-owned brand like Telfar not only amass a huge cult-following, but to then stand by it’s customers and it’s values, rather than drink the capitalist Kool-aid gives me the warm and fuzzies. And makes me want to buy another bag.
Telfar has stated that they will continue to do their regularly scheduled drops, and while I agree with the Twitter murmurings, January is definitely longer than I’d like to wait to receive my bag, it’s great alternative option for anyone fed up with taking L, after L. Remember, buy black and secure the bag!