Here is a short list of things I have put in my Telfar bag: weed, sex toys, my Nintendo Switch, a knock-off Lady Gaga Chromatica-themed jockstrap, and an entire rotisserie chicken from Von’s. Here is an even shorter list of things I have not put in my Telfar bag: a Congressional binder with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s name on it, stuffed with top-secret, important-person documents. I did, however, once have a copy of a marriage certificate I spilled Red Bull on lingering somewhere beneath a bag of gummy bears. That counts!
On Instagram Stories Sunday, AOC took followers through a tour of her red Telfar bag, which included predictable elements like her eco-friendly water bottle and sunglasses. It also contained her Congressional binder, a “dental bag,” some stationary, and her iPad, “because technology.” Queen of utilitarianism!
Her delve through the recesses of her purse comes on the heels of comments she made last week praising designer Telfar Clemens, the bag’s eponymous creator, after a week in which he made his popular, often sold-out bags available for pre-order caused something like a frenzy. She wrote, on her Instagram Stories: “Fun fact: @telfarglobal is now known as a globally celebrated designer, but did you know this Black, LGBTQ+ designer + founder got their start in Lefrak City, Queens? That’s right! Telfar Clemens is a HOMETOWN HERO.”
It’s funny, when I think about it, that before Kanye West began his public entanglement with religious fundamentalism or Demna Gvasalia turned Balenciaga into the official formalwear of Berlin-based DJs, Telfar was espousing the populist design sensibility both West and Gvasalia later tried to adopt. In interviews as far back as 2010, Telfar clearly wanted “everyone to be included” in his collections, consistently staging runways that were decades ahead of his peers and competitors. Now, his designs sit at the apex of modern, everyday fashion, with everyone clamoring for a bag. And unlike those same competitors, he’s begun to make legitimate steps towards taking the brand into a green, sustainable future, one that pairs quite nicely with AOC’s priorities as a Congressperson.
I’d also like to note that a medium red Telfar bag is the perfect choice for AOC. It matches her now-signature lipstick, and is a color easily accessorized with J. Crew adjacent professional wear. Red is also the color of the blood that spills from her enemies’ veins whenever she’s given even five seconds to question Mark Zuckerberg.
More importantly, though, are reports I’m hearing that across the globe, Hegelian dialecticians are puzzling over how to rationalize the utilitarian fashion revolution posed by the Telfar phenomenon. Let me make it easy for them, using the preferred dialectical model: “a problem gives rise to a reaction, which presents a solution.” The problem is that fashion sucks, and the reaction that presents is a designer like Telfar rising to prominence. The solution of this dialectical quandary, then, is that AOC now has a Telfar bag. Hegel doesn’t have the range, but Telfar Clemens absolutely does! And that’s why he is winning.