Small designer brands generally live season to season, using the sales from one season to fund the next. Whether they’re selling straight to shoppers or wholesale to a retailer, they first need to come up with the cash to make all the clothes and accessories. It can be especially challenging when a brand is growing fast and needs ever-larger amounts of capital. If the company forecasts its sales badly and ends up with a large amount of unsold inventory, the mistake can be costly.

The situation has only gotten worse during the pandemic, when clothing sales have fallen, retailers have cut orders, and cash flow has slowed. Telfar’s pre-order bypassed these issues, letting it know exactly how much inventory it needed and giving it the cash required to produce it.

The one-time sale isn’t likely to make its bags so ubiquitous as to diminish the brand’s cachet either. Large companies such as Nike and Hermès often have to manage the scarcity of their products (paywall) so they don’t oversaturate the market, fueling a secondary market that doesn’t always benefit the companies or their customers.

“It’s still a brand that feels a little bit like you need to be in the know to know about it,” Willersdorf said. “I would expect to continue to see this brand grow—and grow despite the current Covid challenges, despite the current economic challenges—because it’s really tapped into something and the consumers who shop it are very loyal and very excited by it.”

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