Telfar: making the ‘It bag’ an inclusive status symbolThe Telfar Shopping Bag may not be as recognizable or as expensive as iconic designs from Chanel or Dior, but it has become just as coveted among fashionistas. It’s attracted young shoppers with the chance to be part of an inclusive community, rewriting the rules of the ‘It bag’ in the process.
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When queer, Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens was awarded the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2017, he had clear plans for his prize money. Introduced at his brand’s Fall/Winter 2014 runway show, the Telfar Shopping Bag had long been on backorder, but the $400,000 endowment enabled Clemens to satisfy demand and get his bags on the street. [1] According to New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, “the award was an acknowledgment that many of the attitudes and aesthetics he has championed are now exerting a broader influence on the industry.” [2] On a material level, meanwhile, it served as a launching pad for the brand as annual sales grew from $100,000 to $1.6 million by 2019, in no small part due to the coveted carryall. [1]