Late last week, images began circulating on Twitter of a white Guess leather shopper bag with a circular logo, handles, and a shoulder strap. Other than the “G” in place of the “T,” it looked almost exactly like the iconic vegan leather it-bag by New York brand Telfar, one of the few success stories of 2020’s historically bleak year for fashion.
In fact, Telfar Clemens and his creative director, Babak Radboy, had been aware of the bag, which was created by a Guess licensee, since February, according to the New York Times. But they decided not to pursue any legal action against the brand, which is not only expensive but would have, they feared, drawn undue attention to a copy they felt posed no threat to their own sales.
That may seem surprising in an era of designer copycat call-outs—but it isn’t, as Radboy told the Times, because Telfar fans don’t admire the shopping bag itself so much as the community around it. As Radboy put it, the bag is not “about an object, but about the culture of the bag, the story around the bag and the phenomenon of the bag.” It became the summer’s must-have accessory and a social media phenomenon, trending on Twitter each time it was restocked. A simple white copy, no matter how aesthetically faithful to the original, eludes all that. You just can’t knock-off community and spirit.
But the strength of the brand’s army is more powerful—or at least more expedient—than any copyright court case would allow. While the brand remained silent, the social media fracas swelled to an extent that by Sunday of this past weekend, Guess had announced it would withdraw the bag from the market: “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.”
For a long time, the bread and butter of mall brands was creating affordable replicas of bags by luxury brands like Marc Jacobs or Gucci. But now brands that seek to replicate the trendy items of more popular designers have different politics to contend with. Younger brands, like Telfar and Bode, which was engaged in its own copycat skirmish earlier this year when the newish brand Stan released a collection and lookbook of alarming similarity, are now just as desirable as their luxury predecessors. Unlike those brands, though, they have established communities based on their singular vision and authenticity. Just as pop stars have stans, so do young brands (at least in America). Copycatter, beware!
For those who still haven’t managed to get their hands on the genuine article during the brand’s sporadic drops, Telfar will soon relaunch the Bag Security Program it first announced in late August of last year. On Tuesday morning, shoppers can order, as a press release described, “any size, any color, any quantities, for guaranteed delivery; always reiterating the message that Telfar is for the people.”
Source by www.gq.com