When it comes to practicality, nothing beats a big beautiful tote bag.

Super spacious and easy to carry, tote bags usually find their way into every woman’s closet at some point or another. It could be because they’re a student or an avid traveler or maybe even a busy mom. Whatever their situation, having a tote bag becomes a lifeline that helps get them through the day.

Almost every major brand offers a tote bag in some shape or form, but there was one noteworthy bag that I previously saw become an overnight obsession: the Telfar Shopping Tote.

Even though it was originally created in 2014, the Telfar tote managed to make it to temporary ‘IT Bag’ status after it was rated as the most wanted bag of 2020. And now this “Bushwick Birkin,” as it’s been called, continues to still be seen on the arms of many major celebs and fashion influencers two years later.

I can see that it’s a simple bag offered at a pretty affordable price (at least if you were ever able to get your hands on one; it was always sold out), but despite it being ultra-popular, I personally just can’t help but consider it to also be ultra-overrated.

Now Hear Me Out…

I love the brand’s backstory and its dedication to inclusivity. As a person of color, it’s wonderful to see those who look more like myself making their mark in an industry that has historically been dominated by European designers. I’m forever grateful for the work of designers like Virgil Abloh, Brandon Blackwood, and Telfar Clemens. Their designs came at a time when certain communities were (and still are) looking for ways to deal with a harsh reality and a 24-hour news cycle that can be less than kind. Fashion functions as a type of escapism for many, even if only for a season.

But I just need more from this bag.

As much as I want to do my part by supporting the work of Telfar, I just can’t bring myself to desire a bag that is so basic. And when I say basic, I don’t mean minimalist. I mean thin, plastic-y, and uninspiring.

I just have so many questions!

Like Stella McCartney bags, I guess Telfar is great for the purse-lovers who are averse to leather but isn’t vegan leather just processed plastic? Isn’t that worse for the environment than real leather?

Also, is incorporating a brand’s logo on a product now enough to call it fashionable?

I want to hear others’ perspectives on this, so please, my fellow PurseBloggers, change my view.

  • Do you have a Telfar tote? Do you like it? How has it held up?
  • Is it better for daytime errands or travel?
  • Are they totally cool, or am I right in thinking they’re overrated?
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Admin
3 months ago

I responded to this on another thread but wanted to respond here as well. This is an opinion piece, the opinion of one writer. She says she thinks the bag is overrated and asks if you agree/asks you to change her mind. It’s her personal take, just as we all have personal takes on different bags and different brands. It’s what makes us all unique – to have these different opinions. We don’t all need to love the same things, and we can love what a brand/designer stands for and is out to create while not being a big fan of the product itself.

While we aim to make the blog and forum welcoming and inclusive – we have a readership that spans the globe and a very wide age range of visitors – we also mainly aim to share information and opinions on bags.

I own 4 Telfar bags – I have posted about Telfar on our site and share my bags being used pretty often on social media. I am a fan, for many reasons, and this piece doesn’t change my being a fan. I am still a fan, I love what Clemens has done and feel joy when I see these bags out on the arms of others. To have an it-bag is a major feat, especially in this post-it-bag era, and Telfar continues to work toward making its bags for the people. How rare and special to have a highly sought-after bag/brand focus on that in a time where we see constant price increases by the other fashion houses.

ladyet
ladyet
3 months ago

Just confused why PB thought this type of article was appropriate to post during BHM. Not liking Telfar bags is not a novel or controversial opinion — a lot of people have criticized the hype. Dedicating a whole article to it is overkill. So much more to potentially cover during BHM. Very disappointing. And look at the type of comments it invites (see “Louie”‘s comment about ‘virtue signalling.’) Why are y’all inviting these kind of disrespectful conversations. No one wants to talk about Hermes and Chanel being virtue signals of wealth, but a black-owned business? Surely they don’t actually deserve the credit they’re receiving! High end designers constantly churn out low quality bags / far too overpriced bag with a little finger wag, but damn, let a black business be a little regular and it’s the guillotine!

Having a black / mixed (not sure which) author write the article doesn’t make it any more okay either. Alejandra, spend your time writing different content.

For anyone that wants to disagree with me, let me start by saying I don’t care what you have to say. If you want to spend time arguing with me about why being able to hate on a black owned business during BHM is okay, reevaluate your priorities and maybe cool it on your desire to come from blackness/black things. It’s not edgy, different, or trailblazing in any way.

I’m not saying y’all have to like Telfar. I bought and sold mine bc it wasn’t fitting with my aesthetic. But honestly, just shut up. Let a brand that’s found a moment with a cult hit be successful.

To tPB owners, y’all absolutely need to do better. Man, there’s so much more y’all could be doing. Do not know why this is so hard for y’all.

Gen
Gen
2 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I’m black and totally disagree with Ladyet’s apparently rigid “woke” opinion that takes issue with a dissenting opinion about something as trivial as a handbag. The only opinion that’s inappropriate for this forum is hers. And I hope she’ll give the seeing enemies everywhere rhetoric a rest and leave the unwarranted whinging over every little thing behavior to children. It’s tedious!

MissC
MissC
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I hardly ever see PB bashing a brand. I was quite surprised to see this during BHM no less. Sometimes the call is coming from inside the building. For anyone saying it’s just a ugly bag etc. You need to understand how difficult it is for black designers to breakthrough and obtain mass appeal. It is no small feat. No it may not be Gucci or LV which has been around for decades, but it has spoken to a subculture of people. Maybe people that want to see designers of color win, what’s wrong with that? The brand is not selling coated canvas for thousands, just fun whimsical bags for a fraction of the price. If it’s not your style, move on.

Gracie
Gracie
2 months ago
Reply to  MissC

For a Black person to enter the Fashion Industry as a bonafide Designer..and not a Celebrity .is Almost impossible because the Celebrity often built in fan to customer possibility……ABSOLUTELY WRONG TO HAVE THIS ISSUE about Telfar doing..BHM especially from someone that should be celebrating instead of….spewing negativity..

Niki
Niki
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Can’t the author do a review of the house without you bringing the founders race into it. So would it be ok to criticize the brand during another month? Seriously, people are so extra on the internet. If you don’t like the article just move on with your life. And I agree with the author, Telfar bags are ugly.

rashmi
rashmi
3 months ago
Reply to  Niki

Right on the money!! why bring the race card here? makes no sense. jesus christ!

Judy
Judy
3 months ago
Reply to  Niki

1000% agree. 👏👏👏 So tired of race being brought into every topic.

Call It Like I See It: PB Readers Are Outdated
Call It Like I See It: PB Readers Are Outdated
3 months ago
Reply to  Niki

The author also brought race into it, if you actually can read. There are countless comments explaining why this article and many of the comments are offensive. You choose to plug your ears and call valid complaints “extra.” Just admit it to yourself, Nikki; it would be so much better than your underhanded and dismissive gaslighting: you’re racist and part of the problem.

ladyet
ladyet
3 months ago
Reply to  Niki

If you don’t like my comment, just move on with your life, Niki. You’re being very extra on the internet. Unfortunately for you, your personality is as ugly as you think Telfar bags are.

Sarah
Sarah
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I totally agree with Niki. Why make it about race all the time? She just doesn’t like the quality/aesthetic of the bag. The ethnicity of the designer is irrelevant.

altair11
altair11
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

THIS THIS THIS

Samantha Winborne
Samantha Winborne
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I applaud this response. It was without doubt exactly my thoughts on the matter. This article is unfortunate & for it to be written by a person of color makes it 10x worse. Not to mention the constant Gucci links throughout the article. So many fashion houses scoring millions, but yet feeling “threatened” by the potential of Telfar is why the wealth gap thrives. Purseblog.com expressed the integrity of their brand with this article. Thanks.

Nicole
Nicole
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Thank you! Some one with sense. Your response was better written than the actual article! Bravo.

A Gray
A Gray
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Well said and I absolutely agree with you!

Ewalter
Ewalter
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I agree with you 💯%!! This is the wrong article at absolutely the WRONG TIME!!

Tashia
Tashia
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Well said. Thank you.

Kris
Kris
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

I agree why during BHM, why write this period. The bag is fun, many colors, it’s a preference. If it’s not for you don’t purchase. Let me also share another black designer Olori. This is another beautifully handcrafted bag by a Black designer. I Own one of these as well and love it. Check them out.

Charli Futrell
Charli Futrell
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Thank you!!! All the snaps for this comment. This article was so uncalled for and I just disagree in general.

Jazz
Jazz
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Exactly as if black designers don’t have it hard enough as it is, to get a foot in the door

mica
mica
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

well said THEY know exactly what they doing and mad that people are supporting this brand

Miss Maddy
Miss Maddy
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Where’s the like button for this comment???Very well said my thoughts exactly plus more.

Mistee67
Mistee67
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

You said everything I was thinking after reading this article!!

BLM
BLM
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

My sentiments exactly!!!

Crystal
Crystal
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Perfectly stated! Just don’t buy it!

C R
C R
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

Couldn’t agree more, ladyet. Criticizing a wildly successful Black-owned business during BHM is beyond tone deaf. If the writer doesn’t like the look of the Telfar shopping bag, fine — but devoting an entire article to arguing that the bag is overrated and “uninspiring” when she doesn’t even own one is bizarre. Telfar bags are *supposed to be* basic. That’s the whole point of the design. It’s a rejection of (white) elitist and exclusionary luxury culture. It represents an important cultural shift in this country — how can that not be inspiring?

Also, who cares if it’s pleather? There are SO MANY ugly non-leather “it” bags made by white designers/luxury heritage brands. LV I’m looking at you. Don’t get me wrong — I own quite a few LV bags and love them. But let’s be real. We’re kidding ourselves if we think that we haven’t been conditioned to view the LV logo as beautiful and elegant rather than cluttered and ugly.

It’s really not hard to understand why people like Telfar bags. They come in so many fun colors, they’re affordable, they’re worry free, and buying them supports a Black-owned business. Isn’t that enough? Do they need to be more than that?

Why come for Telfar now, during BHM? Telfar’s popularity is not breaking news, so it’s not like this blog post is somehow timely or newsworthy. It just makes TPB seem out of touch.

Hera
Hera
3 months ago
Reply to  C R

Great comment with great points!
It baffles me that people are ready to tear apart a brand that seems to be honestly doing their best to act ethical, but brands that openly don’t give a s**** about decency get a pass… it’s almost like people get triggered by moral behaviour. This article’s comment section speaks volumes.

FloJo
FloJo
3 months ago
Reply to  ladyet

THAT PART! The accuracy in what you wrote is just…this is everything that was in my head.
I don’t know what was more offensive to me: using the “I’m a POC…” primer, citing Brandon Blackwood and Virgil, or just the overall unmitigated gall it took to publish this article during BHM.
They wanted traffic, views and comments. They’ll for sure get it.

Louie
Louie
3 months ago

Incoming rant but I’m sorry, I don’t buy into virtue signalling brands. I know it’s controversial in this PC world, but it goes back to the whole question of should we make choices based on the qualities of the individual and the subsequent product, or based on the group identities of the people behind the product.

I don’t think it should matter if the product is made by black, white, male, female, non-binary, rich, poor, young, old, short or tall – consumers should fundamentally buy something based on how good the product is, and in this case it misses the mark solely based on the qualities of the product, which most of you seem to agree.

I’m all for inclusion and diversity, but we got to encourage people to achieve success out of competence and not from leveraging off their group identity. It also takes away from the achievement of the individual if they know their success mostly came down to their group identity.

Black artists are dominant in some genres because they make damn good music. There’s tremendously successful sports stars who are black and they got there because they’re the best at their sport. Oprah is one of the most successful TV presenters of all time because people loved to watch her show. Obama became president because he was best political candidate at the time. Virgil Abloh was a creative genius who had the courage to push boundaries that no one else dared to. To say these people were only successful because people wanted inclusion and diversity, takes away from their skill and hard work.

To paraphrase Martin Luther King, instead of making judgments based on the colour of one’s skin, we should make judgements on the content of one’s character – and the subsequent quality of their work. I really hope Telfar can improve the quality of their products so that people really want their bags for what they are.

rashmi
rashmi
3 months ago
Reply to  Louie

AMEN!!!!

altair11
altair11
3 months ago
Reply to  Louie

i bet you dont see color either

ladyet
ladyet
3 months ago
Reply to  Louie

Quoting MLK after your grandstanding about how you don’t believe in “virtue signaling” is very hilarious. You don’t even realize how stupid you sound, and I guess neither do the 20 others who liked this comment.

Just because YOU don’t believe someone is talented doesn’t make praise for their work virtue signaling.

Why Do I Even Bother With This Site
Why Do I Even Bother With This Site
3 months ago
Reply to  Louie

This is an incredibly ignorant comment from start to finish. I’m not surprised, seeing how conservative PurseBlog leans. Still, it’s disappointing that this is a top comment.

FloJo
FloJo
3 months ago

I’ve really fallen out of love with TPF and PurseBlog for this very reason. There are so many levels of bias and tone-deafness in a lot of what people post, it’s insane.

vvvv
vvvv
3 months ago
Reply to  Louie

hmm i can see where you’re coming from but your idea to separate the identities of the creators from the product is sensible on the outset. but when the brand bears the name of it’s creator like telfar does wouldn’t it make sense for the brand to be a reflection of the designer. not to mention u bring up the idea of not supporting virtue signaling brands. i would not say that telfar virtue signals either. i don’t think their ad campaigns or marketing give off any facades. their brand identity is authentic to me.

Ashley h
Ashley h
3 months ago

So I approached the brand on instagram messenger to see if they would be willing to gift me a bag for my feeding tube things because I wanted a stylish way to carry around something that keeps me alive. Company could not of been more than happy to give me the bag and even went as far as confirming measurements to make sure it fit what I needed. The conversation taking place while I was finishing up an 11 day inpatient hospital stay. Say whatever you want about the brand, the bags, Mr. Clemens himself… that right there made me a customer for life.

Sam
Sam
3 months ago
Reply to  Ashley h

This comment alone speaks volumes about their brand! I applaud Telfar & despite the article’s negative connotation, I am more intrigued by the integrity & other works of this brand. Thank you for sharing.

Sarah
Sarah
3 months ago
Reply to  Ashley h

I read all of the comments, but this one impacted me the most because it shows that they care about their customers. Would Hermes have gifted you a Birkin, Kelly or Garden Tote? Would Chanel gift a tote? LV a Neverfull? Dior a tote, etc.? Would any of these design houses have accommodated your request? I don’t really know, but I feel they wouldn’t since profits and brand recognition is important to them.

When this brand came to my attention I purchased because I believed in their mission statement. I bought the large Ugg tote and was pleasantly surprised how well it was made at a very reasonable price. I didn’t keep it because my 40 y.o. daughter saw it, fell in love and I gifted it to her.

I may/may not purchase another one because I’m retired and don’t have a need to carry many items. However, I have much respect for them and would donate money to support their benevolence to society.

I am sorry for whatever you are going through, but I wish you well. Hopefully, their gift made your life a little easier. ❤️

Jackie
Jackie
3 months ago

As a Black woman I wanted to support Telfar and the IT Bag. I couldn’t pull the trigger because up close its so cheap looking. Brilliant article for its honesty!

FloJo
FloJo
3 months ago
Reply to  Jackie

I purchased the Ugg/Telfar bag and it’s good quality for what it is: a $270 bag. Not particularly fond of vegan leather, which is why I steered clear of the regular line. The one I have is wearing very well, and I have no regrets.

mica
mica
3 months ago
Reply to  FloJo

I have the ugg/telfar n gray and i love it

Leaux
Leaux
3 months ago
Reply to  Jackie

I personally fell in love with the idea and bought 4 bags, 2 small, 2 medium. As Beth said the resale value is great. But honestly I could’ve done without. Bc truth be told they are like plastic. 😶‍🌫️

ladyet
ladyet
3 months ago

ALSO — some of y’all are funny. Telfar was a sleeper hit AND THEN everyone started to noticed and it’s grown in popularity since. Some of the comments are acting like the designer came out and announced “HELLO I AM BLACK, THIS IS MY BAG I CREATED, YOU MUST SUPPORT MY BUSINESS” and everyone fell in line without question. This bag was gaining popularity before most of y’all knew anything about it. To say “if it was a white designer, they wouldn’t be receiving the hype” is a facetious distraction. Who knows and who cares? Literally, so what? This bag made by a black person and made popular by black people — and then noticed by everyone else. Whiteness doesn’t need to enter the equation whatsoever.

Jess
Jess
3 months ago

So I bought purely out of support. Id seen the bag in person before I purchased via Bag Security. (I ordered In Oct 2021 and I wont get it until March 31st 2022) I got the small bc I have enough big tote bags, and I didnt like how flimsy the bigger bags looked. Im seeing everyone say they want a leather option, however, I believe Telfar isnt trying to go that route bc of his base supporters. His base doesnt seem concerned with changing up the blueprint. They want an affordable bag that they can pay for from 1 or 2 paychecks (I believe on the site they even have payment plans), and thats insanely popular. Switching to leather would drastically increase the prices and drive out his current base. Telfar does have some bags that are on the higher end of the price spectrum, but his base arent getting those. I think when we compare these bags to high end designers, its an unfair assesment. Telfar is not a luxury brand like LV or MCM and others, its a brand created to meet the need of everyday people who want a bag that will give them some street cred, without breaking the bank.

Toni
Toni
3 months ago
Reply to  Jess

I agree with everything in your comment. Telfar is an everyday bag for everyday people. Most ppl can’t afford high end designers, and he was a genius for installing payment plans. I love my Telfar bags. If I wanted an high end leather bag I would shop high end.

FloJo
FloJo
3 months ago

Y’all really decided that THIS was the article to post during Black History Month? Come on now, if it was traffic and eyeballs needed, then you’ll get it in spades.
It’s interesting how you couched this criticism with praise for other black designers, like that was meant to mean something.

Smnn
Smnn
3 months ago
Reply to  FloJo

Exactly! Read the room purseblog…

ladyet
ladyet
3 months ago
Reply to  FloJo

THAT PART! Not just another black designer, but one that recently died that was heavily criticized for what he brought to LV. Messy. It’s 2022, we should be past this garbage.

JaimeG
JaimeG
3 months ago

The appreciation I have for this article is unmatched. I just can’t see myself purchasing one. I feel like its a forced bag.

Last edited 3 months ago by JaimeG
Deja
Deja
3 months ago

I’m gonna say it… it’s honestly just a fad to show off how “inclusive and woke” you are. It’s It’s about PC culture. Nothing more. If it were made by a white designer no one would care.

Jazz
Jazz
3 months ago
Reply to  Deja

Buying this bag doesn’t mean you’re woke, there are many black designers to buy from

Deja
Deja
3 months ago
Reply to  Jazz

This is the only bag that people instantly recognize because of the logo on the front and it being what it is. Other bags that are made by POC brands aren’t just a plastic tote with a giant logo. So yeah, it is about the bag.

Sia Battle
Sia Battle
3 months ago
Reply to  Deja

I bought it because I like it you don’t know my life and to make these generalist comments about a whole a thousands of consumers screams of trying to down play the success of black/brown queer culture.
also so much cheap overpriced crap is made from all kinds of designers to single this designer during BHM just says for you if it ain’t white it ain’t right.

Tiffany
Tiffany
3 months ago

“Overrated” implies that the essence of the bag (quality, design, etc.) doesn’t justify its price or popularity. The numbers seem to prove otherwise. I personally love the fact that a bag priced in the low 3-figures, affordable to a larger group of people than much of what we see on TPF or other fashion media, has been so successful in appealing to a wide audience and garnering attention for it. If you want leather, or a different design/functionality for the same price point, it’s out there, and you can vote with your wallet. I don’t understand the argument that this is somehow overrated when it’s not pretending to be anything that it’s not.

Jazz
Jazz
3 months ago
Reply to  Tiffany

Couldn’t have said it better

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