The New York based brand only recently expanded their production within the Bushwick, Brookyln area. While shipping containers remain largely domesti, partnerships with big brands such as Converse, American Apparel, and most recently, GAP, have allowed Telfar to expand their reach across borders. Although the extent of this expansion is unclear, there was mention that production of the Spring/Summer ’19 collection took place in Yangzhou, China.
Composed out of vegan leather, the shopping bag is positioned as more sustainable than similar leather made bags. After looking a bit further, the presence of polyurethane leather (also known as pleather) , troubles this notion of sustainability. Polyurethane (PU) is made through a process requiring non-renewable fossil fuels, which also significantly tax the environment. That being said, the bag mimics real leather well, and has a durable construction that is built to last. Further, developments in PU based leather production are working towards making this synthetic alternative more sustainable, in ways that shift away decisively from the animal based leather production economy.
Telfar Clemens, the founder and inspiration behind the signature “T.C.” embossing works with a team of close friends and established fashion insiders to create the shopping bags and Telfar’s overall brand. There is little searchable information surrounding what production of the bags looks like in terms of scale and labor force, but the brands centralization in New York leads me to believe that much of this process occurs U.S. state side. In January of this year, Telfar Clemens was among a group of designers participating in the One x One sustainability fellowship program facilitated by Swarovski, Slow Factory Foundation, and the UN General Assembly. Guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the program brought together scientists, researchers, and designers to focus on and elevate sustainable innovations. Telfar specifically explored using recycled and biomaterials in fashion production; hopefully these musings will appear in future product design. As a growing brand that’s had a relatively shot lifespan (only 15 years old) Telfar’s awareness of and respect for sustainability shows hope for the future of the company.