American clothing brand and retailer Guess has reacted after coming under fire last week for what critics say is a rip-off of the Black-owned brand Teflar Shopping Bag founded by a Black designer hailing from Queens, New York, Telfar Clemens.
Guess’ faux-leather tote looks uncannily similar to the Teflar “Bushwick Birkin” bag with a tote-like feel and the logo G planted in the middle of the purse, echoing the Teflar logo placed in the center of his bag.
Fans reacted to the comparisons of the two brands on Twitter.
“I hope Telfar sues the hell out of y’all @guess,” someone tweeted.
“Is this a lawsuit in the making? It could be …,” wrote another.
As the issue picked up steam on social media, Twitter users shared their frustration about fashion and clothing companies ripping off Black creatives’ concepts.
“Telfar definitely have a case if they copyrighted their designs. This is really sad that they’ll rip off smaller businesses’ creations knowing that they might not be able to afford to keep up a lawsuit.”
“How do you have the money to mimic a Black designer, but you don’t have the money to create you own designs… WHAT ARE YOU PAYING YOUR TEAM FOR??? To google search??? It’s giving desperate; it’s giving bankrupt.”
“It’s just sad to see ANOTHER young Black creative’s work get STOLEN…. it’s so f– DELIBERATE.”
Clemens introduced the shopping bag in 2014 at the Autumn/Winter runway show. In an interview with the publication Dazed, Clemens stated that he aspired to be “Michael Kors, but on purpose.”
The company used a $400,000 fund from Clemens receiving a CFDA/Vogue Fashion award to focus on reiterating the shopping bag, according to OkayPlayer.com. He re-released it in 2018 with a broader variety of colors and sizes.
“It really represents us moving from an idea to a business,” Clemens said in a Vogue 2018 profile. “It represents everything we are about; like our clothes, it’s completely unisex and every possible kind of person can wear it, but it’s also extremely accessible and practical.”
Celebrities like ASAP Ferg, Bella Hadid, and Dua Lipa have all rocked the popular item that ranges in price from $150 to $257, according to the Teflar website. The G-Tote costs between $78 to $95.
By March 27 Guess issued a statement about the furor and said it was withdrawing its bag from sales: “Signal Brands, the handbag licensee of Guess, Inc., has voluntarily halted the sale of its G-Logo totes. 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.”