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A Spotlight On: Telfar, the black-owned luxury bags that sell out in 15min

Updated: May 22, 2023

THE FASHION BLUEPRINT telfar Clemens telfar fashion designer lgbtqia fashion

L'Officiel USA

TELFAR is a unisex brand established in 2005, New York City by Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens. According to him, it's not for you…it's for everyone – regardless of background, race or gender. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, this should be one of the brands that come up at the top of the list. Telfar is a pioneer in terms of the big topics we discuss in the fashion industry today – gender-neutral clothing, ‘see now, buy now’, interactive catwalks and political activism to name a few. It’s also a black-owned business.

We’ll admit it though, we were kind of late to the party when it comes to this brand. Telfar came to our attention on social media as we noticed more and more fashionistas were starting to take outfit pictures with their handbags in particular. Then when we tried to get our hands on one, we saw the two most dreadful words anyone looking to buy something could ever come across: SOLD OUT. The bags were all sold out on their website. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Tragic to say the least.

That is nothing new to Telfar though. It’s actually a part of their brand strategy – we know that the harder it is to get something, the more people want it. They do exclusive, limited drops which are known for selling out within the first 15 minutes of release. Fashion business goals. Some have even said this is the closest thing to a New-Gen Hermės Birkin level of hype.

One thing that stuck out to us is the sense of community that comes with owning and wearing one of their bags. It’s been described as a symbol of group identity for young, creative New Yorkers – especially within queer, black and people of colour but ultimately, people who love fashion yet feel excluded of an industry that primarily caters to affluent white customers.

“At the end of the day, it’s about more than fashion. It’s about visibility and power” – Telfar Clemens
THE FASHION BLUEPRINT telfar Clemens telfar fashion designer lgbtqia fashion

The Cut

We love that it is becoming more and more important for the fashion industry and society as a whole to unify and become one. The past couple of months (particularly since George Floyd’s horrifying murder at the hands of law enforcement on 25th May 2020), it has been highlighted on social media that we cannot continue to pretend like there aren’t serious issues that must be addressed – primarily when it comes to racism, discrimination and the overall ‘fear of other’. We love that there are brands out there like Telfar who have BEEN advocating for social and political reform, inclusion, diversity and acceptance of humankind. If you know of any more exciting black-owned fashion brands, please add them to our Twitter thread. This is more than a moment in time, it’s a history-defining movement.

Discover Telfar collections:

Discover black-owned brands:

Written by Giovanna Vieira Co, 2020


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