Fashionistas are always searching for that next “it” bag to add to their collection. Those exclusive bags that you can never seem to get your hands on usually make it to the top of the “it” list.
Personally, I’m always a bit skeptical when the fashion world labels something an “it” bag. Don’t get me wrong—I love to hop on a good style trend. My issue is that the Black community gives so much love to high-end designers, and those brands rarely ever reciprocate. I would love to see us elevate our Black designers to icon status because that will help the community in the long run.
That’s why I’m living for how much the Black community is going up for Telfar Clemens, the Liberian-American founder of the Telfar brand. When I first saw his viral Telfar shopping bag, I understood why it had reached cult status. Like Clemens said to Vogue, “It’s beautiful.”
The vegan leather material attracts millennials who care about their impact on the environment. However, the faux leather still has that smooth, luxe look we expect from genuine leather (think Stella McCartney). The silhouette of the tote is simplistic and aesthetically pleasing, like many luxe bags. It’s been dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin” due to its simplicity, but fortunately for our pockets, it’s way more affordable. The shopping bag comes in ample colorways and three sizes (mini, medium, and large). Who wouldn’t want a luxe bag in their favorite color that’s roomy enough to fit a tablet? And with a price that’s within reach for almost anyone, it’s tough to pass on.
What makes Telfar special is that the brand only creates unisex products, a choice more and more designers are embracing. The idea of genderless fashion speaks to the fearlessness of millennials who strive to reach beyond whatever box society places them in. The brand’s motto, “Not for you — for everyone,” allows anyone to feel like they too can rock a luxe bag. It’s definitely worth an investment.
So, how did Telfar became the bag of 2020? How did it become so popular that the bags sell out as soon as they’re available for purchase? The brand has been around for a little while, so Clemens isn’t new to the game. He’s managed to remain relevant and has gained more attention this year than any other year before. There are a couple of reasons why Telfar’s popularity became even more insane this year.
Inclusivity for All
Black Lives Matter was one of the most defining groups of 2020. After the summer protests, many companies and fashion brands tried to make amends for their past behavior toward the Black community. For example, companies like Twitter announced that Juneteenth would become an official company holiday, and the fashion industry focused on inclusion. Brands started using more Black models, highlighting Black creators, and pledging their allegiance to those whose voices are, time and time again, underrepresented.
As individuals begin seeking out Black creators throughout the year, it’s a given that an existing luxury handbag created by a Black designer would gain even more traction and popularity. Like Savage X Fenty, The Lip Bar, and other Black millennial-owned brands, Telfar represents inclusivity for all and advocates for the rights of overlooked communities. Telfar is also redefining what it means to be luxe and who’s able to own luxury items.
The Power of Celebrity
No one can deny the power of celebrity, so when stars we admired began donning their Telfar handbags, fans couldn’t help wonder what made the bag so remarkable that their faves deemed it worthy of ownership. Everybody from Solange Knowles, Tinashe, Selena Gomez, and Dua Lipa have sported the bag. Bella Hadid and A$AP Ferg have shown the brand some love too. And we can’t forget about the time Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought Telfar to the Capital.
I think we could all agree that Telfar’s biggest endorsement was when Oprah listed it as one of her favorite things in 2020. This year, she decided that all her favorite things would be from Black-owned businesses to celebrate Black lives and ventures. During a video call with Clemens, she commended the brand for its craftsmanship. But just like every rollout, the bags sold out within minutes of becoming available through Oprah’s shop on Amazon. Despite many people not being able to snag a bag, once the Queen of Christmas gift shopping gave her stamp of approval, even more people became aware of the brand. So we’ll probably be seeing more celebs rocking the bag in the future.
Telfar is redefining what it means to be luxe. The brand gives something for the Black community to be proud to support. Though the bags may seem hard to get, wearing one allows people to feel like they’re a part of a community that believes they deserve the very best in life too, no matter their gender or race. And fashion brands like Telfar are teaching people that Black creators make quality products. It may seem trendy or radical to support Black businesses to prove a point, but once people see that the products Black people make are also quality items (because, of course, they are), customers will support the business because it’s a reputable brand with a commendable message. High-quality, luxury goods are something anyone can get on board to support.
So, what else is up with Telfar? I’m excited about the Telfar x UGG collection, which was available to preorder back in November 2020. Those lucky enough to snag a bag will receive theirs in 2021. Telfar also offers more items beyond luxe handbags. Other popular items on their site include durags, T-shirts, hats, belts, and jewelry, and just like the handbags, you may not want to wait to stock up on Telfar clothes and accessories since some are also sold out. You might as well add your email to the brand’s mailing list to receive notifications on upcoming drops. Show Telfar some much-deserved love.
Written By: Alicia Ivory
Copywriter by day, writer for life, Alicia Ivory has loved writing and storytelling for as long as she remembers. She has written copy, blog posts, website content, and more for a range of fashion brands, including Foot Locker, Lands’ End, Century 21, Nautica, and TJ MAXX. She also writes fantasy and science fiction for kids, primarily with African American characters, and volunteers with organizations that promote the voices and varied experiences of African American authors and writers. Some examples include the Black Children’s Books & Authors (BCBA) and the Free Black Woman’s Society. Through BCBA, she edits articles written by underrepresented authors and coordinates with authors and their representatives for local events.