Guess Pulls Its Telfar Bag Knockoffs After Twitter Outrage

A person carrying a green Telfar bag
Photo by Christian Vierig via Getty Images

If you’ve stepped out in a city—or even simply scrolled through Instagram—at some point over the past year, chances are you’ve come across a Telfar shopping bag. The ubiquitous tote has become so in-demand that to stay true to his “not for you, for everyone,” approach, Teflar Clemens had to institute the “Bag Security Program,” a one-day-only sale of unlimited preorders. (The second edition kicks off on Tuesday.)

Plenty of other designers have picked up on the hype, but so far only those at Guess have been bold enough to hawk a lookalike—the only real difference being an encircled “G” instead of “T.” (They even released a miniature version.) Knockoffs may be ubiquitous in fashion, but the listings at Guess and retailers like Macy’s struck a nerve. “I think the most annoying and yet interesting part of this is the fact that a company like Guess has the capital and resources to produce this bag in great quantities when the original designer could not,” the stylist and Black Fashion Fair founder Bibby Gregory tweeted. “And it really just speaks to the lack of access granted to Black designers. The lack of capital. The lack of resources the industry provides them.”

Just a day after Gregory’s tweets went viral, Guess responded. “Signal Brands, the handbag licensee of Guess, Inc., has voluntarily halted the sale of its G-Logo totes,” the brand said in a statement. “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.”

Telfar kept mum about the whole ordeal until Monday, when Clemens’s business partner, Babak Radboy, spoke with the New York Times. It turns out the pair knew Guess had the bag in store since February, thanks to a tip-off from an Australian friend. They neither worried, nor contemplated legal action. What Guess didn’t understand, Radboy explained, is that it isn’t “about an object, but about the culture of the bag, the story around the bag and the phenomenon of the bag.” Meanwhile, the label’s fans remain loyal as ever. The $78 Guess tote that’s still available at Dillard’s currently has a single, one-star review: “Cheaply made, a knock off. Telfar is better! Buy from them!!”