Guess halts the sale of Black-owned bag brand, Telfar, rip off

Oprah Winfrey included the medium Telfar shopping bags on her 2020 Favorite Things list

After receiving serious backlash online, Guess was forced to halt the sale of their G-Logo tote bags after people on social media compared its design to Telfar Global’s bags.

Signal Bands, the licensee of Guess, Inc., made the decision to pull the plug after the designs went viral and people criticized the brand for stealing from Black-owned businesses and creatives.

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The G-Tote tote bears a striking resemblance to the Telfar unisex bag. The Guess bags are being sold in white, red, and black for between $78 to $95 and are described as a “smooth, faux-leather tote bag with dual top handles and a shoulder strap for a versatile look,” PAPER reported.

Though Guess quickly made the bags unavailable on their online shop, the bags were still being sold on third-party retailer’s platforms including Hudson’s Bay, Macy’s, and Dillard’s.

Telfar Clemens, 35, was recognized in February 2020 by Vogue Business in “How Young Designers Create Powerful Brand Identities” for his T-embossed shopping bag which received the nickname “the Bushwick Birkin.” The unisex bag with double shoulder straps and top handles comes in three sizes and ranges between $150 and $257, according to The Cut.

Clemens, a queer Liberian-American designer who describes his brand as “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” launched the bag in 2014 during Telfar’s Autumn/Winter collection, but didn’t gain much traction until 2017.

The New York based fashion designer received accolades including his win of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for best accessories designer, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Award, GQ designer of the years and the Most Wanted by PETA for his handbags, according to The New York Times.

Last February, he was recognized by TIME 100 Most Influential People and honored by Solange Knowles who wrote, “Telfar Clemens is the time, the spirit and the conversation. Through his namesake line, he has created a universe of his own that transcends fashion.”

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Celebrities such as Selena Gomez and A$AP Ferg have been spotted wearing the bag, and Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders was seen wearing the bag while accompanying Clemens at the 2019 Met Gala. Oprah Winfrey included the medium Telfar shopping bags on her 2020 Favorite Things list in support of Black-owned businesses.

“The idea that you can’t or can wear something and you need to be this to do that. I think a lot of that is disappearing. I’m including people in my world rather than trying to cater to everybody,” Clemens told TIME.

People shared their criticism towards Guess on Twitter including The Fashion Law who asked, “Is this a lawsuit in the making? It could be…”

User @AnnaMelissa compared the Guess’ knock-off to the faux Captain America from Marvel’s “Falcon & The Winter Soldier.”

@MikeishaDache expressed her hopes of Telfar suing the company and later expressed, “Not only did they completely rip Telfar’s design, they blatantly disregarded a Black queer man. Rather than enter into a design deal they just stole. All the while they have a link to support the NAACP in their Linktree.”

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