PROJECT N° 8
An accessibly priced, thoroughly genderless bag in three sizes.
In the winter of 2014 while observing Holiday shoppers laden with paper shopping bags, Telfar was stricken by their forms. He saw in them, young and old, male, female or else — a universal figure, a truly genderless and ubiquitous silhouette.
After measuring a paper Bloomingdales bag and grading it up and down, the iconic Telfar Shopping Bag was born in three sizes. Small, Medium and Large — all under $300.
The price was based not on cost but on what a DJ would make for a nights work. Using the winnings from the CFDA fashion fund Telfar put the first 300 bags in production. They sold out overnight. We ordered, 1000, they sold out... And so on until today.
The magic of the Telfar Bag, as a design object, is that it’s form cannot be separated from it’s social significance. In fashion, a bag is not so much a work of utility as a social signifier —and as a social signifier it signifies less one’s social milieu as one’s belonging or aspiration to an economic class.
The Telfar Bag is not only the first bag to become a status symbol for both men and women and non-binary people, but the first status symbol in which status has nothing to do with money. The confluence of pride and affordabil- ity finds the bags power in an altogether different form of recognition. It is in a category by itself.
The bag is sold almost exclusively direct to consumer via instagram. Stores having passed on the bag thinking a customer for it didn’t exist, were re- proached by a seemingly endless stream of posts by customers with their bags. What is remarkable is that the stores were right — the customers didn’t exist; the bag and the customer came into existence together and form a single gamble for visibility.