Telfar Clemens opens up about bots, resellers, and why his website was shut down.
What’s unique about Telfar is that, while the bags can compete with other high-end brands, the company’s owner set the bags at an affordable price point to make it easier for economically oppressed people to purchase.
According to Complex, a regular, black Telfar bad will retail from $150 to $257. The demand for Telfar bags skyrocketed last Thursday after products were restocked. And for the first time, the Telfar e-commerce website shut down. In response, the company sent out a notice saying, “Telfar is for the people. Not Bots. Store on ice while we root them out.” However, Telfar says that even without the bots’ interference, the site would have still shut down.
“We improved security right before this drop. We were literally on the phone all day trying to find out how extensive the problem is because the vast majority of orders are real. Then our Shopify site crashed,” said Clemens in an email. “The root of it is not that we shut [the site] because of bots, but simply because there was an over demand flowing into the site at once, a number that was way higher than the bots itself. Essentially, we broke the internet.”
While consumers were trying to grab a bag for themselves, resellers were also purchasing the bags to flip them for higher prices on sites like eBay and Grailed. In an interview, Clemens addressed the high demand for the bags and how it plans to make sure the site doesn’t crash with the next restock and, most importantly: when the next restock will be. For those who want to be notified of the next restock, Clemens said you just have to sign up on the mailing list. “People can sign up to be notified for each individual color and size of the bag, and they get an email the second it goes up. It’s pretty straightforward. We are working on doing it through text.”
Clemens said the pandemic has affected the production of bags. “We did not plan some kind of strategy around making the bag scarce. The pandemic shut down our supply chain temporarily at the exact moment that our demand exploded. At this point, we are having a hard time knowing what the demand is because everything sells out in minutes. It takes time to make bags and put them on a boat. We’ve been flying them in to have these drops.”
Clemens essentially said, “slow and steady wins the race” when it comes to making more bags with the new demand. “We have never been about a hype model. It’s about timing, if anything. We want the bag to be part of how we do our thing. Our friend Marzy, the other day, posted, ‘We true to this, not new to this.’ That captures it pretty well.”
As far as dealing with bots in the future, Clemens said bots are also a minor issue. “The effect of the bots is also exaggerated. If there were no bots, roughly the same thing would have happened. A vast majority of bots are buying for individual customers from what we see. I think it’s well known what we are about and what our bag is about. It means something real not only that we are selling directly, but who we are selling to. That is a powerful form of resilience and community.”