Telfar, the Black-owned brand that makes the newly iconic and perpetually sold out bag of the season, exploded into national attention this summer after Beyoncé was spotted with one. The bags have been impossible to get for months. In addition to doing regular new bag drops, the company has also launched a 24-hour television and streaming channel that are letting dedicated fans score bags.
In a press conference launching the channel, designer Telfar Clemens described the new channel not just as a kind of public access space for fans, but as the only way to get their new bag, a cylindrical duffel. While Telfar TV is a 24 hour, linear television channel, occasionally they'll also broadcast QR codes that often stay up for just a minute, and when scanned allow viewers access to new products before anyone else.
Part of the motivation for this is to thwart bots from buying Telfar bags before anyone else can. When the much-desired Telfar shopping bags are in stock they can sell out in seconds. This is a clever way to get around the pervasive issue of bots buying up all their stock before actual human beings can get it, but according to the FAQ page, Telfar has more ambitious plans for the channel.
"If we can create an ecology between our business and the freedom of this channel, we will be able to develop programming on the scale of any other channel—without the corporate oversight/overseers," they write. "Because we sell bags and clothes and not human beings—we can allow artists to retain ownership of their work."
Channels like Means TV have similarly tried to disrupt the model of television production to allow creators more freedom as well as ownership over their own work. Means TV is modeled after a streaming service like Netflix rather than Telfar's attempt at a 24 hour television channel. Means TV is by no measure unsuccessful, but it also isn't a serious challenge to other streaming services. It will be an uphill climb for Telfar's television channel especially given that they are relying on their fans to create their programming. But when was the last time you saw Beyoncé wearing a t-shirt for Netflix?