Is TELFAR Even Luxury?

Of course it is.


One of the many misconceptions about luxury is that the prices always have to be out of reach for the lower to middle class, and only upper class citizens should be able to afford and appreciate high quality items. The luxury industry is stepping away from the aged nuances it was born into and is redefining what it means to appreciate quality. TELFAR, the brand, is just one of the luxury brands that are beginning to craft new experiences in the luxury realm.


There are basic tenets of luxury that are all followed to a degree by esteemed brands.

  1. Excellence in design and branding

  2. A historical background

  3. An element of unavailability

  4. Excellent storytelling

  5. Collaboration

  6. Excellent customer service

  7. Pleasurability


.. and TELFAR meets each and every one of them. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Excellence in design and branding

Winning a Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for Best Accessories Designer just this September alongside Gabriela Hearst (winner of American Womenswear Designer of the Year) and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss (winner of American Menswear Designer of the Year) is no easy feat; it demands an excellence in design and branding. Telfar superseded expectations by winning the National Design Award for Fashion Design from Cooper Hewitt less than a month later. This is only the beginning to the designer’s success after a fifteen year journey.


  1. Historical Background

Telfar Clemens was born in LeFrak City, Queens, NY and moved to Liberia, then moved back to his old stomping grounds. TELFAR the brand gained traction after selling his pieces in the Lower East Side and Soho boutiques.


A scruple of luxury brands is to include a historical aspect to production. New York is a melting pot of everything. From fashion, business, to culture and food, there’s nothing you can’t find if you open your eyes wide enough. When you think of New York, diversity should be the first image that comes to mind. Anybody who has heard the proud boasts of any New Yorker can infer the polar of the concrete jungle. As boundaries are pushed constantly in the concrete jungle, Clemens’ identity in his designs can be seen in each product. Little delicacy is paired with brunt force to create a sleek design, the complexities of New York are effectively captured in one piece on the TELFAR website. Scrolling further down his website, now you see a sensual, sensitive piece that belongs on the other side of Telfar’s ever-ranging spectrum.

  1. Element of Unavailability

Known for its squared faux-leather ‘shopping bags’, at any given time all of their 55 handbags will be sold out. Despite the size, price, or shipping dates, it’s increasingly difficult to secure this bag. By limiting the production size, the desire for the bag is exponentially increased. We only want what we can’t have.


Besides the unavailability of his most sought-after bag, the designer himself is very particular on who he talks to and who he collaborates with. After winning the National Design Award for Fashion Design from Cooper Hewitt, he declined any celebratory speeches simply because he wasn’t doing any interviews at the time, a Cooper Hewitt spokesperson noted. An interview request sent to his company also went unacknowledged.


What could questionably be a move of unavailability, controlled or not, is the release of Clemens TELFAR x UGG collaboration. Their website states that if you pre-order your TELFAR x UGG shopping bag on November 30th, you can expect to receive your bag between March and Juneteenth of 2021. Many viewers were completely shocked as the furry bag is showcased with a white Christmas tree in the background, yet the brand is claiming it can be delivered in scorching June heat of this. This move can be backed up in several ways as far as availability and/or quality.


We’ll soon see.


  1. Excellent Storytelling

The mitochondria of TELFAR’s identity is the tenet of ‘inclusivity for all’. This genetic trait has demonstrated itself as TELFAR is the first fashion brand to be completely genderless, as Clemens vowed to ‘never’ create products that are specifically for one gender. Another part of TELFAR’s identity is its conception place of Queens, NY. You can see the genderless New York style mashup that is a mix of the best of several worlds: accessibility, grittiness, gender-inclusivity, all while being fashion and highly sought after. Their thumbhole thermal hoodie has the familiar design of a college hoodie print branded with the brands own name. All throughout their Instagram , you can see no one gender dominates the feed as all products are worn and represented by all facets of life.


If you scroll through any of their feeds, you’ll see plenty of average day to day people posing with their TELFAR unapologetically. And when I say average day to day people, it’s to be understood these people are not celebrities, brand ambassadors, people with a stan following, none of the above. These people are your managers, neighbors, Walgreens clerk, etc. The only thing all these people have in common is that they’ve gotten their hands on TELFAR.


Who TELFAR chooses to represent has no performative boundaries as they regularly include the LGBTQ+ community, the handicapped, and just about every range of human-being under the sun.

Their decision in representing all facets of life is simply part of their brand DNA of ‘inclusion for all’.


  1. Collaboration

UGG announced they will be working closely with Clemens as part of the ‘FEEL YOU’ campaign, celebrating ‘individuality and style’. It’s only right that the series is headlined by TELFAR. Being a supporter of UGG since 2010, Clemens was attracted to the ‘ubiquity’ of the design, as it was a common product that almost everybody has.


Clemens has also worked with White Castle to create uniforms for over 400+ employees back in 2017. Recalling meaningful late nights at the fast-food establishment, Telfar sought out to collaborate with the company.


  1. Excellent Customer Service

What brand has done it like TELFAR? You rarely see any complaints of unhappy customers on social media or elsewhere. When it comes to criticism on products in the digital age, less publicity is best.


  1. Pleasurability

Thousands of people have purchased Telfar’s bags. Thousands more are dry-begging on the brand’s social media sites to restock old styles or to come out with new ones. With his anti-exclusivity campaign, the pleasurability in Telfar comes from inclusivity. Telfar recently said in his UGG x TELFAR campaign interview, “I’ve always been obsessed with a certain kind of ubiquity, and when something unique ends up on everybody, that’s our model.”


Telfar has successfully begun the diaspora towards making the appeal of luxury inclusivity, instead of exclusivity. The concept of luxury has been around for thousands of years, one of its main tenets being that only a particular class of people can access it. Clemens has made it his personal mission to dismantle that aged nuance of luxury with affordable, quality products that not only keep the customers coming, but empowered.


CONCLUSION:

Clemens is the spearhead for the much needed re-innovation of luxury. The designer constantly challenges the status quo by having the first completely unisex fashion brand, breaking down the barrier of traditional and aged luxury ideals and re-inventing them. In order to convince the masses, you need to empower the masses. Clemens has successfully executed that deliberate alchemy to change the meaning of luxury. Now it’s time for other brands to take heed.


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