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Yu Fujiwara – Milan AW20 Menswear telfar shopping bag
Milan AW20 MenswearPhotography Yu Fujiwara

Telfar’s iconic bag just secured a big design award

The tote has been rightfully named the British Design Museum’s fashion design of 2020

Although 2020 came with a lot of shit – including a pandemic, an increasingly incompetent government, and countless other traumas we don’t need to recount – it was also the year that Telfar, the New York-based label founded by Telfar Clemens, finally got the recognition it deserved. 

Going from cult brand to one of fashion’s biggest and most disruptive players – as it staked its place on the industry’s landscape via a unique, redefined vision of luxury – last year saw demand for its signature leather shopping tote reached fever pitch. Gaining the seal of approval from Oprah and AOC, and scoring the brand an Accessories Designer of the Year win at September’s CFDA Awards, now, it’s also just taken the top spot as the Design Museum’s fashion design of 2020. 

With the museum citing the bag’s affordable price (the average earning for a New York DJ for a single night’s work), its environmentally friendly material (vegan), and gender-neutral style as its most appealing aspects, Emily King, a guest curator for the competition further explained the reasoning behind the bag’s win. “Telfar is a firm who have managed to really redefine the relationship between themselves and their customers,” she says. “So much so that owning a Telfar bag is not just owning a brilliant product, it’s about making a vote for things to be done differently.”

As the bag continues to sell out at warp speed (you thought it was hard to get one last year? It’s near impossible now), and a security scheme put in place in August to help those desperately trying to get their hands on one, it comes as no surprise the tote has bagged the award. With the style playfully dubbed the Bushwick Birkin on account of how many of them roam wild and free in the NY neighbourhood, if you haven’t heard of the Telfar bag, seen a Telfar bag, or read countless articles on the Telfar bag, then I’m sorry to inform you: you have been living under a rock. 

With other winners of this year’s competition including a graphic rendering of the novel coronavirus, the vegan Impossible burger, and the ‘Teeter-Totter Wall’ – which saw a see-saw take up residence at the US-Mexico border – the annual design listing seeks to celebrate the ‘most original and exciting products, concepts, and designers.’ 

Revisit Dazed’s feature on exactly why the Telfar Shopping Bag is the most important accessory of the last decade here .