On Saturday, March 27, Guess announced the company would pull its “G-Logo” totes from production after social media accused the retailer of stealing the design from Telfar Clemens’ now iconic shopping bag tote. The 36-year-old designer upended the fashion industry’s penchant for exclusivity capturing a community that sells out his signature elegant totes in seconds. In a statement provided to Complex, a rep for Guess’ licensee said: “Signal Brands, the handbag licensee of Guess, Inc., has voluntarily halted the sale of its G-Logo totes. Some on social media have compared the totes to Telfar Global’s shopping bags. Signal Brands does not wish to create any impediments to Telfar Global’s success and, as such, has independently decided to stop selling the G-logo totes.”
GUESS Embossed Logo G-Tote / Telfar Medium Shopper: pic.twitter.com/EcBRqwEMAj
— AB/G (@bibbygregory) March 26, 2021
The New York Times reported Clemens and his business partner, Babak Radboy, found out about the bag in February from a friend in Australia. Radboy told the Times he and Clemens “weren’t afraid of it — and we didn’t want to draw attention to it.” “Guess had, he said, missed the whole point of the bag, which was not ‘about an object, but about the culture of the bag, the story around the bag and the phenomenon of the bag,’” according to the Times. Telfar, the “Black-owned, non-gendered fashion project” established in 2004 in New York, has been putting on experiential shows since designer, Telfar Clemens, launched the brand at 20. Since then, Clemens has proven himself to be someone who can straddle art, fashion, and business with grace and apparent ease. He introduced his now iconic shopping bags in 2014 but they have recently taken off as a fashion symbol. In New York, they are called the ‘Bushwick Birkin.’ Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez wore her burgundy medium size tote to the Capitol over the summer. Last year, Oprah named the bag as one of her favorite things on Amazon.
“My love for just seeing things, you know, kind-of on a mass level, it means that you kind of changed or shaped something in some kind of way but I think it’s more special when it’s accessible,” Clemens shared in a video accompanying his write-up on TIME’s second annual TIME100 Next list, an expansion of its TIME100 franchise highlighting 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future. “It can still be IT and everybody can have it. I think a lot of things that are being praised are just like, you know, like my personality and the personality of the brand, you know? They’re based on my actual belief system, like a business strategy. I should continue to trust my instincts and listen to my voice of how I perceive the world and how that affects my work.” On March 29, Telfar’s Instagram account shared a photo of the New York Times article and captioned it, “Bag secured. Your bag security program tomorrow 3/30 at 9 a.m.”
Telfar knows how to secure the bag, indeed.