Black designer and entrepreneur, Telfar Clemens has high hopes that the fashion world embraces his mission of affordable, accessible bags for everyone.
The 36 year old Liberian-American fashion designer founded his highly regarded brand, Telfar, in 2005 while still a student at Pace University. The ever popular Telfar bag is luxury fashion reimagined, inspiring Clemens to create a brand of clothing and accessories that is glaringly absent from every day grasps.
Most of know about Hermès’ Birkin bag , but when the hashtag #BushwickBirkin started trending on Twitter back in 2020, Telfar hasn’t been able to keep its widely popular Shopping Bag in stock. While the bag still has some heavy hitter celeb fans including Beyonce and Solange Knowles, Azealia Banks, Jeremy O. Harris, and A$AP Ferg, the brand is causing major excitement among everyday women, die hard fashionistas, and trendsetters across the world.
Here’s what the brand is doing to change the game:
Upon inception, the signature bag that inspired the #BushwickBirkin hashtag was called “The Shopping Bag”, nicknamed by makeup artist Xya Rachel in September of 2020 via Twitter. She later went on to say that the bag was on par with the Birkin, but for far fewer coins.
The popularity of the Shopping Bag ultimately stems from the philosophy that high-end fashion should and must be accessible and representative. The gender-fluid design, consisting of vegan leather, has a future forward price and viewpoint to back that up. The practicality of the bag speaks for itself, from the sturdy shoulder strap to the lightweight leather, offering functionality without flashiness and high-quality without high-price while prioritizing sustainability.
Telfar Clemens, The Founder
A gay man from Queens, Telfar understands the importance of acceptance and how exclusivity can be harmful. Self-taught in fashion, he’s pushed forward unisex and androgynous collections since 2005, long before it was consider trendy. Since then, he’s been trailblazing across the fashion scene and breaking new barriers for those normally excluded in society in general.
Get Your Bag
“Not for You…For Everyone” has always been Clemens’ company motto while intentionally setting out to turn his words into action as he turns the fashion world on its head.
In July of 2020, when the Shopping Bag finally restocked after being out of stock for months. When they did, the official Telfar website crashed due to bots and scrapers looking to take advantage of the supply/demand of the bag, buying them in bulk and reselling them on for more than $600. Scarcity and ridiculous price tags were everything that Clemens detested and it went against the mission of the company. So, he decided to help everyone, “get their bag”…literally. That’s when The Bag Security Program was born.
The program ensures that bots and greedy resellers can’t buy up all the inventory before regular customers while guaranteeing their desired size, color, and delivery date range. Customers have a 36 hour window upon each re-opening of the program, to order. You can read more about it on Telfar’s official website.
As if any of that weren’t enough to support this company, the community is absolutely amazing. It’s a squad. Whenever you see someone with that center printed T in a circle, you give them a nod. It’s an unspoken bond among a tribe that’s finally found its place of belonging.
With that being said, it’s fair to say that Telfar Clemons has been successful in an industry that has always been tough for Black entrepreneurs to navigate, much less revolutionize. Not only has the company been successful financially, but Telfar has made a significant impact both culturally and ethically. Let’s hope this leads to a bright future for the Black-owned company.