Telfar’s Latest Handbags are a Mystery, but Shoppers are Lining Up Anyway

Telfar, a cult label beloved for its handbags, announced the launch of a new series without revealing its collaborator or what the bags look like.

A guest at Milan Fashion Week carrying a Telfar bag. Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Telfar, the unisex apparel label founded in 2005 by designer Telfar Clemens, announced an upcoming product drop on their website with the sort of marketing genius that’s come to be expected from the company.

“YOU ASKED FOR IT — so we FINALLY made a ████, in collaboration with ████®, with ████, ████ and ████,” the brand’s heavily redacted announcement on Twitter reads, directing shoppers to a link so they can lock in a “blind pre-order.” Blind pre-orders usually refer to consumers placing orders for a product without knowing the price. Telfar inverted this strategy by listing the item prices, but blurring images of the yet-to-be-released items. The idea is straightforward: Customers won’t be sure about the design of the bags they’re buying, and they won’t know which designers or artists the brand collaborated with to make the new bags. They’ll just have to trust Telfar’s taste. The company didn’t respond to the Observer’s request for comment.

Already, internet sleuths are claiming to have deduced that Telfar collaborated with Eastpak, but if the project’s been rumbled, it hardly matters. It’s rare for a fledgling brand to establish such a high level of confidence in its customers’ loyalty so quickly. Clemens, a Liberian-American who hails from Queens, New York, has won their trust by prioritizing inclusivity and the democratization of high fashion as he offers them affordably-priced luxury items.

Telfar’s wildly popular “Shopping Bags” handbags start at $150, and the largest ones cost $257; these prices have barely wavered in the last few years, even as Telfar’s success skyrocketed. The label’s “It’s not for you — it’s for everyone” philosophy, coupled with an elegant logo and earned cult status that saw the bags dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin,” has earned diehard fans and raked in dividends for the brand. Telfar is a notable success story at an unstable time for the fashion industry.

Telfar is a fashion success story

In 2020, the year management consulting firm McKinsey projected the fashion industry would lose 90 percent of its profits, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program: the feature ensured shoppers could access the brand’s products without robot resellers or bulk buyers hogging the merchandise. Telfar’s first drop after introducing the program generated $20 million.

In September of last year Telfar launched Telfar.TV, a TV network hosted on an app born out of a collaboration with The Umma Chroma artist collective. Described by the company as “a TV Channel without any content — because we are tired of being content for other channels,” Telfar.TV gives users access to app-exclusive drops. The brand also doles out awards to users who upload interesting videos to the app.

With these and other intuitive, forward-thinking marketing strategies—Telfar uses social media images of shoppers with their bags for promotional material—the company appears to be charting a path towards fashion world ubiquity. Telfar’s Latest Handbags are a Mystery, but Shoppers are Lining Up Anyway