“Not for you — for everyone,” is Telfar’s slogan. It alludes to the New York-owned Black brand’s efforts to create and maintain an “It bag” without any nasty exclusivity. And on Sunday afternoon, Telfar leaned on this lofty yet democratic catchphrase, which was shouted over the loudspeaker in front of thousands of ecstatic shoppers shouting outside the Rainbow Store.
The CFDA winner has taken over the clothing chain’s downtown Brooklyn outpost, where one can usually buy rayon-blend jeans for $20 and launched his first actual pop-up . The customer received the notification on Instagram just two days before the event. More than 3,500 “Bushwick Birkin” pieces, priced between $150–$257, depending on size, were on hand. And there were even more people standing in the rain in a long line that zigzagged around three city blocks.
The scene around 3pm. like a combination of an on-site filming, a game show, and a department store sale on Black Friday. Multiple NYPD officers lurking outside, keeping a close eye on everything. A director operated a sky-high camera crane, capturing all the action for TelfarTV, the brand’s 24-hour broadcast channel, and IG Live. The masked dancers looked lost and infatuated as they put on their upcoming bags, hats and boots. The TelfarTV hosts staged the event with the same pomp and fun as Billy Porter in the dance movie Pose (“We’re less than average chocolate and black bags,” shouted one person. late that afternoon. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!”) Then the doors opened, an hour earlier than planned due to the overwhelming crowd. Beautiful chaos ensued.
Near the end of the line, Zoey, a recent college graduate and aspiring fashion designer, stands with her mother. “I personally don’t own a Telfar and a lot of my friends have over the last few years,” she said, speaking through the music and the boisterous crowd. “And I just struggled with getting it online. I thought, okay, this is the perfect opportunity. I have no work today. So I just pushed all my responsibilities away.” She waited four hours and planned to buy an artist’s blue bag that would fit her and an azalea blue bag that would fit for her neighbor.
Zoey’s mother then unlocked her iPhone and watched a saved clip of Telfar. “I only showed it to my daughter,” she said, referring to her daughter, “because I saw the commercial on Fox 5.” She wondered if a special edition version of the bag, featured in the news, was inside the store. Otherwise, “I want a white one.”
Near the end of the line, Mae Coyiuto stood with her friends. She was visiting from the Philippines and thought she should check out the sale, announced on Instagram just two days before, from the opportune moment. The 28-year-old novelist recently got to know Telfar through pop star Beyoncé – who sang “This Telfar bag imported / Birkins, they’re already in storage” on her latest album, Renaissance. However, Coyiuto wasn’t sure how many ways a “Bushwick Birkin” would have in Manila. “People who can afford designer bags tend to use older brands like Gucci and Chanel,” she said. “Even a brand like Balenciaga hasn’t clicked [that]!”
Inside the refurbished Rainbow venue are hundreds of bags. Color lines from Telfar Clemens, the brand’s founder, practically cover the entire color spectrum, with 38 shades available online. Take for example the sheer variety of blue. The brand offers versions of the bag in sky blue, cyan, Cerulean blue, painter blue and cobalt blue.