In the designer handbag market, the purses that have everyone abuzz typically come with price tags that are nearly 10 times higher than your monthly rent. So when the Telfar Shopping Bag, which starts at $150, claimed its place as one of the most wanted accessories of the last few years, it was somewhat surprising.
In 2020, while other luxury brands struggled as the economy took a serious hit, Telfar, helmed by Liberian-American fashion designer, Telfar Clemens, seemed to have its best year yet. The global fashion shopping platform Lyst revealed in its Year in Fashion Report at the end of year that searches for the brand saw a 270% increase week-over-week since August — and demand for the brand's products seems to only have grown since.
While Telfar makes a variety of products, from shoes to apparel, none are quite as popular as the cult-favorite Shopping Bag. It ranges in price from $150 to $257 and is nearly impossible to get since each iteration always sells out almost as soon as it's released.
Later this week, the brand will be bringing its Telfar Bag Security program for the last time, giving people the chance to grab a bag in any color or size that they want. Below, we're sharing everything you need to know about the event and what makes the bag so popular in the first place.
Why are Telfar bags so popular?
Clemens started the business back in 2005 and launched the cult-favorite Shopping Bag in 2014. But it wasn't until more recently that things really took off. In 2020, the brand (and the Shopping Bag specifically) had some of its biggest moments to date. Clemens earned industry recognition when he won the American Accessory Designer of the Year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (which he won again in 2021) and the brand got love from celebrities who were spotted toting the bag around, adding to its appeal.
And then Oprah gave it her official seal of approval. She named it one of her "favorite things" of 2020. Following that announcement, the brand launched the bags on Amazon for the first time ever — of course, they sold out almost immediately afterward.
While the bags have become big among well-known names, at the same time the brand, which uses the slogan "not for you — for everyone," has been lauded for its focus on inclusivity, something that you don't always find in the world of high-fashion — and that has created legions of supporters. In fact, in March of 2021, Telfar fans came to its defense when Guess' G-Label Tote bag used a logo and design people felt was too similar to Telfar. The handbag licensee of the Guess tote, Signal Brands, later announced it was discontinuing the bag.
The Shopping Bag has been dubbed the "Bushwick Birkin," thanks to its popularity with the Brooklyn crowd. Marketing campaigns for the company showcase diverse faces, and the low price point makes it feel more accessible. Sure, starting at $150 the bags seem much more expensive than your average purse, but when compared to other designer bags, like those from Birkin, they're practically a steal.
How can you get a Telfar bag?
For those looking to get their hands on one of the bags, you have a couple of options. You can keep your eyes on Telfar's website, Instagram page or the Telfar TV app for announcements about periodic color restocks, drops or upcoming Bag Security Program events. Or you can wait for the brand's next Bag Security Program, a limited-time event in which customers can order the Shopping Bag in any size, color and quantity and the brand will custom-make them.
And it just so happens that the brand has announced that it will be bringing back its Bag Security Program this week, from June 16 at 12 p.m. ET to June 18 at 6 p.m. ET. During that time period, customers can go to the Telfar site and order the Shopping Bag in any size, color and quantity. Unlike the brand's usual drops, where there are only a limited number of bags available, during the event, any bags that are ordered will be custom-made. The brand says that this will be the last time it will be hosting the event, so we don't know when (or if) Telfar will give shoppers a similar opportunity to shop all of its bags again.
After the event, the company will begin production and you can expect your bag to ship between June 26 to August 31, the brand says. Since each one is being specially made, there are certain restrictions, so you won't be able to make changes to your order or get a refund after you've made your purchase. And unfortunately, you'll only be able to purchase the brand's Shopping Bags during the event — the duffle bags, items from collaborations and the Circle bag won't be available.
Each bag is made from vegan leather and features both cross-body straps and handles so it can be worn multiple ways, according to the brand. It comes in a variety of colors and blends fashion and function, thanks to the sleek design featuring the now-iconic Telfar logo and a decent amount of carrying space. (The medium can hold a laptop and a few other items, while the large is roomy enough to be used for a weekend getaway.)
Here, we're sharing a handful of the color options that you can shop during the event.