Telfar pop up at Brooklyn’s Rainbow takes New Yorkers by storm

Telfar’s Brooklyn pop-up had eager customers lining up and down the block, hoping to purchase the brand’s typically sold-out bags.


Samson Tu

Telfar’s tote bags, specifically the “Shopping Bag,” have been recently rising in popularity. (Samson Tu for WSN)

Jhenesis Hines, Contributing Writer

Telfar, a Black-owned company well-known for its “Shopping Bags,” took over the Rainbow retail store on Fulton Street to host its first-ever pop-up shop on Sept. 11. The bags are notorious for always being sold out, and the rare event drew many eager customers who hoped to get their hands on a bag.

“Telfar has definitely taken the NYU fashion culture by storm,” Steinhardt sophomore Ekene Onukogu said. “It is definitely a staple piece in the Black community, and every Black person should invest in the company if given the opportunity.”

Specifically in the Black community, Telfar’s bags are seen as statement pieces that can be used for going out, attending school or simply even running errands. While the brand was founded in 2005 by the Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens, there has been a more recent surge in demand for their iconic Shopping Bag, and support for the brand has only grown.

The Rainbow Shops, which are popular in the Black community and known for being affordable for lower-income shoppers, paid homage to Clemens’ upbringing in Queens. The choice of location is a reflection of the brand’s ethos of accessibility.

“Telfar having its pop-up at the Rainbow [Shop] was very symbolic in itself,” Onukogu said. “In a sense, [Clemens] remembers his roots, despite all the fame he has received.”

Telfar promised to have “thousands and thousands” of bags for sale, with each customer being limited to five bags. The event was held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., but the line started forming at 3 p.m. — and people arrived well before then.

“When my friends and I arrived around 2 p.m., we were met with this huge line and we were a little discouraged,” LS first-year Xiomore Bethea explained. “Although the line was wrapped around the building for the entirety of the event, [it] surprisingly moved fast.”

Once you went inside the building — which happened in waves of about 40 people at a time — you would be met by a worker with an iPad prepared to take your order. There was a brief timeframe to choose the color of the bag you desired according to the size. After the time was up, security checked customers’ wristbands to make sure they selected the correct numbers and sizes of their bags, and then cut the wristbands off to prevent them from reentering or giving it away.

While the event had a very organized and successful system, there were instances in which people tried to bend the rules to their benefit. 

“There were some people going around in line saying that the bags were sold out and this caused a lot of people to leave the line,” LS first-year Asharyah Alvarado said. “My friends and I decided to stay in line and we ended up getting to purchase our bags and go inside.”

Nonetheless, the Telfar experience went well and many were satisfied with the purchase of their desired bags. After people exited the building, the line of customers outside applauded and cheered, adding to the excitement.

“It was an amazing experience and I would definitely go again if there is another opportunity,” Alvarado said. “I feel like Telfar should definitely host more events like this and also travel to other big cities.”

Telfar’s next drop, the “Rainbow,” will be exclusively online, starting at 12 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23.

Contact Jhenesis Hines at [email protected]