Guess Halts G-Logo Tote Sales After Social Media Slams Brand for 'Copying' Iconic Telfar Bag Design
Guess has pulled one of its handbags from shelves after social media users slammed the company for creating a design similar to Black-owned brand Telfar's iconic totes.
Telfar, the unisex fashion label launched in 2005 by Queens, N.Y.-based Black designer Telfar Clemens, exploded in popularity last year when Oprah named its Shopping Bag one of her 2020 Favorite Things. The vegan leather tote, worn by everyone from Solange Knowles to Dua Lipa, comes in three sizes, a variety of colors and features its iconic round "T" across the center.
When Guess's handbag licenser Signal Brands dropped a purse, called the G-Logo tote, designed with the same shape, double straps and circular center logo, fashion lovers quickly called out the brand on social media for allegedly "copying" the Telfar design.
"seeing a lot of people outraged about Guess's copying of Telfar's bags & designs and good! get outraged! but also bring that same energy when small businesses are copying and profiting from others!" one person said on Twitter.
Another person tweeted, "Guess copying the Telfar bag style, shape, logo, colors and how they even photographed the bag shows there was no way this was not intentional on their part. Black rage sells, and brands capitalize on it because when was the last time people even talked about Guess like this."
Other Telfar loyalists said the label's tote represents more than just a handbag. "What guess failed to realise is that a huge reason why people go crazy for telfar is because of the ethos and community behind the brand," said a Twitter user.
On Monday, Guess announced that it "voluntarily" decided to pull its G-Logo totes from shelves.
"Signal Brands, the handbag licensee of Guess, Inc., has voluntarily halted the sale of its G-Logo totes. Some on social media have compared the totes to Telfar Global's shopping bags. Signal Brands does not wish to create any impediments to Telfar Global's success and, as such, has independently decided to stop selling the G-logo totes," said Signal Brands, Guess's handbag licensee, in a statement shared with PEOPLE.
According to a New York Times article, Clemens, 36, and his Telfar business partner Babak Radboy knew about Guess's G-Logo tote since Feb. 2021, but opted to not make a public statement. They told they outlet that they "weren't afraid of it — and we didn't want to draw attention to it." Clemens and Radboy also wanted to avoid litigation against Guess and Signal Brands because they saw it as a large financial drain, the business partners told the New York Times.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, a representative from Telfar says: "We think it is truly meaningful to have reached this very gracious outcome without us having to say or do anything. It sends a message that sometimes real power comes from people and from love. We are loving the power of our people."
Aside from sharing the New York Times story on its Instagram page, Telfar hasn't addressed the copycat handbag on social media. However, Radboy told the outlet that he and Clemens are thankful for the public's support leading to Guess's decision to pull the tote.
Radboy said, "It's a great, happy ending."