A statement sent to People magazine confirmed the retail chain “has voluntarily” halted the sale of its tote, which features a large embossed letter "G" inside a circle and four arm straps.
Knowledgeable fashion insiders noticed these design elements and compared it to Telfar, a unisex handbag and apparel brand that has gained a cult following on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.
Telfar Global, which is designed by 36-year-old Telfar Clemons, has been making its signature Shopping Bag tote since 2014. Instead of featuring the letter G, Telfar’s totes feature the brand’s remarkable T logo.
The brand’s luxury bag has made such a strong impression in the fashion community, Telfar began a “Bag Security Program” in August 2020 to help customers place preorders since the totes typically sell out fast.
Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada called out Guess for its similar design in an Instagram post on Friday, March 26. The post sparked a conversation among the Instagram account's 2.6 million followers and spread noticeably to other social media platforms.
In online discussions, critics brought up concerns about larger fashion companies eclipsing and undercutting independent designers. Guess has an Instagram following of 7.7 million and was reportedly selling its tote bag for $82.75 while Telfar Global has a following of 590,000 and sells its iconic totes between $150 and $257.
“I think the most annoying and yet interesting part of this is the fact that a company like GUESS has the capital and resources to produce this bag in great [quantities] when the original designer could not,” tweeted Antoine Gregory, the founder and fashion director of Black Fashion Fair – an e-commerce platform for Black designers.
Representatives at Guess did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
However, Guess told People magazine on Monday that its parent company Signal Brands has decided to voluntarily halt the sale of its G-Logo tote bags because its team “does not wish to create any impediments to Telfar Global's success.”
Meanwhile, the marketing and design team at Telfar told FOX Business they are pleased to hear that Guess will no longer sell its tote bags.
"We think it is truly meaningful to have reached this very gracious outcome without us having to say or do anything,” a spokesperson for Telfar wrote via email. “It sends a message that sometimes real power comes from people and from love. We are loving the power of our people."
The company is now moving on with its “Bag Security Program II” drop, which launched 58 versions of its signature Shopping Bag on Tuesday, March 30.
Clemens started Telfar Global in 2004. The New York-based brand has grown considerably since then, and its luxury handbags have been affectionately nicknamed the “Bushwick Birkin” by influencers and celebrities, according to Page Six.