Telfar makes it harder for resellers (and regular shoppers) to buy its bags

Security questions and prompts are meant to deter bots from buying up stock, but are confusing consumers in the process.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 27: A guest wears a black leather jacket and a gray bag with a T logo, outs...
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Getting a Telfar bag has just gotten harder. The brand, helmed by designer Telfar Clemens, has adopted a new Captcha system that requires consumers to answer questions and identify objects in order to complete their purchase. The move blocks resale bots from stockpiling — although shoppers are seeing the added security as another obstacle in the way of their Telfar.

When the brand debuted its new Captcha during a drop last week, consumers were left perplexed over the tasks presented, which included a fill-in-the-blank quiz. Users were asked to complete the phrase, “Not for you, for _____,” with the correct answer being “everyone,” completing Telfar’s slogan. Another prompt asked buyers to assess an array of cat images before drawing a square around the biggest one.

Hindering real customers — Yet with resale bots buying up stock, Telfar’s new Captcha is necessary. Automated programs have previously swept up over 60 percent of the brand’s bags, sidelining Telfar’s message of accessibility and forcing consumers to pay marked-up rates for their purses. As bots evolve to conquer brands’ security systems, Captcha services have been forced to increase the difficulty of their challenges — and consumers are feeling the impact.

Some shoppers voiced on Twitter that Telfar’s bags had completely sold out before they had a chance to finish answering their questions. Others were blunter: “Whoever designed the new Captcha for Telfar, count your days,” one Twitter user wrote.

But it’s Telfar’s limited stock and demand that fuels sold-out drops, according to Babak Radboy, Telfar Clemens’ business partner. Radboy said in a statement to The New York Times: “The truth is the reason people aren’t getting the bag is not because they have to draw a box around the cat. That is actually making it so more people and less bots get bags. The reason people can’t get the bag is because at any given minute there are tens of thousands more people who want bags than there are bags to get.”

Captcha is set to go mainstream — Still, any consumer wanting a Telfar will have to conquer its Captcha — which is subject to change. Consumers on Twitter say they experienced different prompts on the way to checkout, including circling planes and filling in other blank questionnaires. Now, they’re trying to guess what challenges will await them next: “The next Captcha will ask, ‘when was Telfar founded,’” one Twitter user predicted.

Captcha changes prevent bots from learning how to defeat the security questions, although consumers will have to keep up. While Telfar is one of the first major streetwear brands to adopt the security software, labels like Nike and Adidas may follow. With bots eating up stock across the fashion industry, brands have to protect their consumers. Otherwise, they might be left with no real shoppers at all.