By definition, cult favorites are the identification of a certain preference, product, or vibe; a sense of ownership, or buy-in. There's an emotional component to cult favorites and in the age of social media, it can happen quicker than ever. Historically, there are few brands who have experienced this sort of cult phenomenon; even fewer that achieved that during a pandemic. For the Telfar bag, though, that's the narrative of 2020 but it doesn't seem to be changing any time soon.
Telfar is a New York-based unisex line established by designer Telfar Clemens in 2005 with the mission of perfecting accessible luxury. An item described as "A Bag For Everyone", the Telfar bag is equal parts function and fashion. The vegan leather bags are aptly named Shopping Bags, a signature piece of the Telfar brand. The top-handles and long-line strap are roomy and perfect for everyday wear while the recognizable logo elevates it to a status item. The colors range from silver to oxblood to fur-line (their newest UGG drop); the sizes range from small to large. Nicknamed the "Bushwick Birkin", coined by makeup artist Xya Rachel, it ironically has become as difficult to procure as its Parisian namesake.
Make no mistake though, the Telfar bag was well on its way to cult status pre-2020. Since the introduction of the Shopping Bags to the label in 2014, the notoriously arduous bags were the perfect combination of quality, price, and rarity. For Telfar, it's "not for you, it's for everyone." A sense of community is a significant thread that is weaved through this bag; the more, the merrier.
While word-of-mouth was the driving force behind the success of Telfar, celebrities like Kate Moss and Solange are noted fans of the brand.
After a series of unexpected events for the brand this year, including but not limited to a GAP collaboration that fell through and international bots overwhelming the website on launch days, the Telfar bag skyrocketed to a level of exposure only previously occupied by the Dior Saddlebag. For the better part of 2020, every month the anticipation would grow as a new launch would drop. Then, minutes later, Twitter would be flooded with tweets from sad consumers who were too slow to add to the cart.
But unlike its luxury counterparts, when consumers voiced their concern, Telfar pivoted and provided a solution. Enter, The Bag Security Program - giving a new meaning to "securing the bag". The 24-hour event allowed anyone to purchase any color, size, or quantity they desired, with guaranteed delivery in December and January. The program was a success and used in the new collaboration: UGG x Telfar - which sold out pre-order in minutes.
This continues the narrative that black designers are the blueprint within the fashion industry.
The ability to remain flexible has been a trait of the successor in 2020, and that's the chemistry to Telfar's success. Instead of building a luxury brand on snobbery and classism, Telfar doubles down on providing beautiful products that are affordable without sacrificing quality. It's extraordinary to see a black designer gain this sort of popularity and continued success, especially since we know how underrepresented the fashion industry can be.
Telfar was recently awarded the 'American Accessories Designer of the Year' by the Council of Fashion Designers, amongst black talent like Pyer Moss and Christopher John Rogers. While this is certainly a top award for the brand Telfar, it is only just beginning.
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Featured image via Telfar