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Backstage at Telfar SS20
Backstage at Telfar SS20Photography Serichai Traipoom

You must now answer an impossible riddle to land a Telfar bag

Secure the bag with your firstborn child! Is Rumpelstiltskin behind the label’s new Captcha system?

In an attempt to block resale bots from stockpiling its beloved shoppers, Telfar has hatched an ingenious plan. Staging another of its infamous bag drops last week, the label debuted a new Captcha system, which it hoped would deter the kind of automated hackers and software programmes that have previously swept up over 60 per cent of its stock. 

Only, real life hopefuls were left bamboozled by the tasks presented, including a fill-the-blank quiz, which asked users to complete the phrase “Not for you, for ___,” (the correct answer being “everyone” as per the Telfar slogan) and another which prompted buyers to quickly assess multiple thumbnail images of cats and draw a square around the biggest one. 

Soon, Twitter became inundated with users desperately searching for clues to crack the code. “So Telfar’s Captcha situation is harder and more varied than the SAT and ACT combined,” one customer bemoaned, with others complaining that their orders had timed out before they could decipher the cryptic crossword. “That Telfar captcha was made by the Riddler,” “Just sick,” “Telfar count yo days,” a sweep of Tweets read.

Babak Radboy, Telfar Clemens’ business partner, responded in a statement to The New York Times, saying that “it takes time to do things right. Our thinking is long term.” He continued: “The truth is the reason people aren’t getting the bag is not because they have to draw a box around the cat. That is actually making it so more people and less bots get bags. The reason people can’t get the bag is because at any given minute there are tens of thousands more people who want bags than there are bags to get.”

As machine learning continues to advance at an astronomical rate, Captcha services have been forced to increase the difficulty of their challenges in order to outwit pesky automated solvers. So while Telfar’s consumers have written to the brand, some in absolute outrage, these enigma-like brain teasers are set to become increasingly common place. As the brand itself says: “Telfar is for the people. Not the bots.”

Revisit our deep dive into why the Telfar Shopping Bag is the most important accessory of the last decade.