2020 was what The New York Times dubbed “The Year of Telfar.” This is primarily due to the coveted Telfar Shopping Bag, also called “Telfeeze” and “Bushwick Birkin,” which became highly exclusive and hard to come by.
The cult-favorite Shopping Bag was one of the hottest bags of 2020 and was just as popular in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, the TC logo bags are still so coveted that they’re consistently sold out!
The Telfar Shopping Bag was considered the “it” bag of 2020, and it remains to be one of the hottest bags
If you haven’t heard much about the brand, you are probably wondering…
Why Are Telfar Shopping Bags So Popular?
Much of the popularity has to do with the designer behind the bag. Telfar is run by designer Telfar Clemens, a queer Liberian-American designer who has been advocating for inclusivity for years!
“The idea for the bag came during Christmas years ago. Just looking at everyone with their paper shopping bags, I realised that this is a completely unisex silhouette,” fashion designer Clemens told The Guardian about Telfar’s shopping bag in 2020.
“We measured a Bloomingdale’s bag to make the first sample. When it came to the price, I based it on what a DJ might make in a night; that’s what felt right for me,” he added.
Founded by a queer black man from Queens, New York, inclusivity is the underlying value of Telfar – a brand ‘for everyone’ with only unisex pieces.
Model Selah Marley with Liberian-American fashion designer Telfar Clemens at the 14th Annual CFDA Fashion Fund Awards in 2017 (Credit: Patricia Schlein / WENN)
For years, the designer dealt with disenfranchisement in the fashion world because of his sexuality, background, and values, and now those who once gatekept the industry are inviting him in.
Telfar continues to create his own inclusive fashion world. Once rejected by fashion, the brand is now at the center.
In 2020, Oprah appointed the Telfar vegan leather shopping bag as a “favorite thing,” and the notorious Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a.k.a AOC, shared the bag on her Instagram with millions of followers. In the past few years, more and more celebrities have been seen wearing the bag.
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Telfar Clemens and his creative partner first created the popular bags in 2014. They feature an embossed logo of a T inside a C, a form of his initials created by one of Telfar’s childhood teachers.
In May 2023, Telfar amended its trademark application for its TC logo to exclude colognes, perfumes, cosmetics, and eyewear. British beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury opposed the application, claiming that Telfar’s mark could be confused with its own.
This was a strategic move by Telfar, allowing the brand to avoid a legal battle with Charlotte Tilbury. It also will enable Telfar to focus on its core products: handbags, jewelry, and clothing.
Telfar’s TC logo features the initials of the brand’s founder, Telfar Clemens, with an embossed letter T inside an embossed letter C
The shopping bags come in three sizes, small, medium, and large, and range between $150 and $257. They are affectionately called the “Bushwick Birkin” due to their Bushwick headquarters and the Birkin-looking square shape.
It’s a name that caught on before the Telfar bags acquired the same exclusive status as a Birkin.
Telfar’s popular vegan shopping bag comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large
Telfar shopping bags are made from vegan leather with a large logo on the side. The design was inspired by Bloomingdale’s shopping bags, although more commonly compared to Hermes.
Where are the Telfar shopping bags made?
The bags are made in China, and Telfar has openly spoken about the quality of work and flexibility when working with the manufacturer. Telfar’s financial model is unique.
They self-financed production, 100% on their own, and typically plan for production six months in advance. This has caused the shortage; it’s not a pre-meditated strategy to make the brand more exclusive and boost demand.
After consistently selling out in August 2020, the brand launched the “bag security program.” This program aimed to allow more people to buy one of the bags that kept selling out.
Black leather Small Shopping bag from Telfar with an internal logo patch
In the same month, people could add their names to a pre-sale waitlist. There are also continuous bag drops where up to 7000 bags become available, which still sell out within minutes!
Pre-selling also helps them manage how many to order and produce so they don’t end up with wasted products or excess expenses.
With the massive increase in demand, they’ve had to double the size of their headquarters in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and have leased a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in New Jersey to manage their own fulfillment.
Clemens is from Queens and wants to stay there. He has said he would love to open a Telfar store (currently only available online) and wouldn’t want it in Manhattan. Instead, he’d like to stay in Queens or Brooklyn.
“There is one coming,” Telfar Clemens said during his visit to The Breakfast Club in March 2022. “We’re opening a store this year in New York City, and we’re still deciding where that’s going to be. I don’t want to say too much about it, but we’re opening a store.”
While Telfar Clemens announced that the brand would be opening its first flagship store in New York City in 2022, as of September 2023, there is still no sign of the store opening.
Where To Buy Telfar Shopping Bags?
The iconic tote with its TC logo is sold out on the Telfar website; however, they have weekly drops. You can be notified when the bags will become available by signing up for their mailing list on the website.
The bags have also sporadically on Amazon, though, as you can imagine, they sell out quickly! Online retailers Farfetch and Nordstrom have also carried the bags. Sign up to their mailing lists to be notified when the bags are available again.
Many people are reselling the bags online since they are so hard to come by. Although you may have to pay more, this will likely be the fastest option for securing a Telfar shopping bag.
Yellow Telfar single shoulder strap tote bag with embossed front TC logo
When buying from a second-hand retailer like eBay, you need to be careful and watch for authenticity. There are several hundred bags available on eBay that are marked up in price to almost double what they retail for.
If you can’t wait until the next Teflar bag drop and looking to buy online, you need to watch for fakes. Here are some key areas to pay attention to when determining whether it is a real or a fake Telfar bag.
7 Ways To Tell Fake and Real Telfar Bags
The bag should feature a single debossed logo at the front that resembles a T inside a C.
The bag must be made from 1000% vegan leather with a synthetic twill interior.
The bags all have a boxy, structured silhouette.
Look for machine stitching at a 45-degree angle on the bottom corners.
It should have two types of straps: double shoulder straps and double top handles.
6. Interior logo
A single jacquard square logo attached to the back wall is only reinforced on the sides. There is no stitching on the upper or bottom walls, except for a small stitch on the upper corners.
7. Brand tag
Inside the lower interior of the bag, there should be an additional brand tag that reads “TELFAR / EST. 2005, NYC”.
Unfortunately, bots and resellers are purchasing these bags from Telfar and reselling them for double the price or more due to the low price. The black-owned fashion brand has tried to stop this.
Tan-brown leather logo embossed tote bag from Telfar featuring a front embossed logo stamp, a shoulder strap, round top handles, a main internal compartment, an internal zipped pocket, and a full lining
A resale site, Hypernova Group, was previously blamed for buying up 60% of the stock only to resell at a 100% markup.
According to Clemens, “What the bots are doing goes against what we are about – we are not trying to create fake scarcity – we just have crazy demand.” So, if you can, it is best to wait and hope that the fashion Gods are on your side for the next bag drop on Telfar’s website.
If you find yourself lucky enough to score a Telfar shopping bag, here are a few of the most popular bags:
6 Most Popular Telfar Bags
1. Large Black Shopping Bag
The staple large black shopping bag features a main compartment, an internal laptop-sized compartment, and an internal pocket
Black is a staple – which is why it is so popular. If you have one of these high-in-demand yet hard-to-get bags, you want to show it off at every opportunity.
The large bag is big enough to be used as a carry-on or a weekend bag. It’s 14.25 inches tall, 19.25 inches wide, and has a depth of 8 inches.
2. Small Orange Shopping Bag
Bella Hadid owns this coveted party-ready small orange shopping bag
The orange color of this bag is stunning! Bella Hadid has been seen wearing the tiny orange Telfar tote while running errands in New York City.
The small bag is perfect for going to a party or grabbing dinner. The small bag is 1.74 inches tall, 6.80 inches wide, and 1.15 inches deep.
3. Large Yellow Shopping Bag
Telfar’s large yellow shopping bag is one of the most popular as it comes in this year’s hottest color
Yellow has been declared the color of “Gen Z” and is one of the hottest shades in fashion. In January, Dua Lipa was seen walking through JFK Airport using this bag as a carry-on. The large shopping bag retails for $257.
4. Large Cream Shopping Bag
The large cream shopping bag is a classic and it’s versatile enough to be paired with just about any other colors
While at a Helmut Lang runway show, A$AP Ferg was seen with his large cream shopping bag tucked under his seat.
5. Small Oxblood Shopping Bag
Telfar’s small oxblood shopping bag is a favorite among celebrities and fashion models
If you have a smaller budget, go for one of the small bags, as they retail for just $150.
This small oxblood shopping bag is a celebrity and fashion-icon favorite and has been seen on Selah Marley. It is the bag designer Telfar Clemens wore to the 2019 Met Gala.
6. Medium White Shopping Bag
The Telfar medium shopping bag measures 10.75 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and has a depth of five inches
For a bigger bag that you can still pair with a dress and take to dinner, the medium white bag is a great choice.
In July 2019, before the bag really took off, Sonja Morgan was seen wearing this bag with a white ruffled dress. Selena Gomez also has a Telfar bag in white, but she opted for the small size.
A highly-anticipated line of bags is scheduled to come out later this year. A Telfar X UGG collaboration went on pre-sale in December 2020, and Telfar has indicated more exciting collaborations will be announced in the future. A colloaboration with the backpacking label Eastpak was announced in 2022.
A male model walks the runway for Telfar by Telfar Clemens with a TC logo shopping bag (Credit: Lev Radin / Shutterstock)
In addition to selling more of the Telfar shopping bags, Telfar Clemens and his creative partner Babak Radboy are hoping to make their line of clothes the focus.
As a brand that stands for inclusivity, it’s easy to see why so many people want to support and wear one of these bags.
If you hope to get one of these bags anytime soon, I suggest heading over to Telfar’s website and putting your name on their mailing list now! You won’t want to miss the next bag drop.
Telfar Clemens, the founder of the brand, has a vision for it to be a 100 percent unisex fashion enterprise (Credit: FashionStock / Shutterstock)