On Aug. 19, Telfar, the New York-based fashion brand allowed consumers a one-day-only pre-sale for its vegan-leather shopping tote. After launching in 2014, the brand’s popular tote bag is consistently sold out. Notably, the bag has been seen on consignment and resale sites for sometimes double or triple the original retail price.
A statement made by Telfar said the affordable — prices range from $150 to $257 — shopping tote was originally created to promote accessibility and community, though even when production plans take place months in advance, they have experienced “thousands of bags sell per second.” The statement also states that the brand is 100 percent self-financed.
The pre-sale was an opportunity for its community to secure access to the bag without worrying about monitoring the brand’s drops. And while the item has been hard to get, the event also served to steer away from hype and scarcity.
Still, scarcity has been a driver to provide the buildup on certain items within the luxury fashion industry. And according to Sarah Willersdorf, Boston Consulting Group’s global head of luxury, “scarcity will continue to be one of the many drivers of desirability and we continue to see brands and retailers create limited editions and one-off creations.”
But are pre-sales a good idea for brands? “The fashion industry needs a reset and Telfar Clemens certainly could be thought of as a trailblazer — someone who has never been afraid to buck the system, as he created his genderless aesthetic and built a community of loyal fans,” Willersdorf said. “We expect a number of brands to increase use of pre-ordering to help manage demand and reduce their levels of excess inventory.”
“In recent years, even pre-COVID-19, a number of brands — especially independent brands — were using pre-orders to try to better predict demand, avoid holding excess inventory and better cover their production costs,” Willersdorf said. “In fact, we expect to see this practice accelerate in a post-COVID-19 world as the fashion system needs a reset.”
Notably, from a sustainability perspective, pre-sales are a way of ensuring better management of production and inventory.
Based on Boston Consulting Group’s recent research with HIghSnobiety, Willersdorf said Telfar’s actions would certainly be defined as culturally relevant — and therefore desirable to young consumers. Cultural credibility, according to the report, is a brand’s perceived relevance to a consumer’s values and social circle.
“Telfar certainly appears to embody the building blocks of cultural credibility,” Willersdorf said. “The brand’s timelessness, a brand narrative that evokes emotions, the advocacy of key opinion leaders and a consumer’s social circle, as well as a curated assortment and creative partnerships with culturally relevant authorities. This is an exciting brand and one that I believe is better positioned to survive the current challenging landscape.”
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