Telfar introduced his very first wallet on Monday and, much like his bags, they sold out quickly — in five minutes flat.
But that was not the intention, according to Telfar creative director Babak Radboy. “We had ordered the wallets in 17 colors — so that unlike the bags they could stay up on the site for a while,” he said.
While the label declined to reveal exactly how many wallets were sold, Radboy said it was “thousands and thousands.”
The wallets are made of leather and were offered in colors spanning from black to seafoam green — all priced at $144. The design is already being traded on resale site StockX, with some sellers requesting a minimum $1,500 to purchase.
The Telfar wallet’s success demonstrates how New York-based founder Telfar Clemens – he of Liberian descent who was raised in Lefrak City, Queens — continues to hold the attention of a highly invested and loyal community. Clemens, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, was unavailable for comment.
The brand’s covetable nature has only been boosted by its new wallets selling out so quickly. Soon after they were released at noon, Telfar was a hot topic on Twitter, where fans lamented how their carts suddenly ran dry in the middle of checking out. But unlike with other labels, Telfar fans are dedicated to the brand’s message of inclusivity and their gripes are also often followed by notes of adoration and support for Clemens’ success.
At the launch of his Rainbow drop in Brooklyn Heights this past September, fans lined up for hours — and many of them said they were attending to support Clemens directly.
When asked how the label has maintained such a strong audience, even among fickle Millennials and Gen-Z shoppers, Radboy said: “We are the only brand of our scale that is Black-owned — like really Black-owned‚ no investors or entanglements — so our community is just us.
“I think people sense our freedom and how we got it — which really was not to break into the industry but to break out of it. So that’s not just a brand narrative — it’s just what we are for real and it shows in how we move. [We feel that] many brands have a made-up fantasy narrative that has nothing to do with their reality. So it’s hard to compare.”
Another key element of Telfar’s success is the label’s clever and uniquely New York social media campaigns — like the one released last week on Instagram to tease the wallets’ release. “We decided to do a series of CGI videos for this because wallets are small and we didn’t want them to compete with a human figure. We were thinking Skittles commercials — the wallets make you hungry,” said Radboy.
The creative said this is just a sign of what’s to follow in 2023 — with an increased focus on the brand’s ready-to-wear. “We have something new every month this year basically. Our big plans this year are for Telfar TV to launch original content and to do with the clothes what we have done with accessories. Telfar is not a bag company,” he said.