On Thursday, luxury resale platform Rebag is launching a new tool to evaluate handbags, applying the same standardized rigor to the category that the Kelley Blue Book applies to cars, according to Rebag CEO Charles Gorra.
The tool, called Clair — which stands for Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale — is a multipurpose platform that standardizes a wide range of designer handbag styles into distinct product codes, and evaluates their retail price and their resale price, plus the relationship between those two figures and price fluctuations. Gorra said that luxury handbags do not tend to have easily accessible standardized product codes, or SKU numbers, the way sneakers or other products might, making it difficult to establish a more categorical value system for different products. Most sneakers have a nine-digit code somewhere on the shoe that denotes exactly which specific model and colorway it is.
Customers can use Clair to find a bag they want to sell to get a quote on what it’s worth, and Rebag promises to buy it from them at that price for at least two weeks. But Gorra said the plan for Clair extends beyond just Rebag. Customers can enter their entire collection of handbags, even if they don’t plan to sell them to Rebag, and use it as an asset portfolio, monitoring their fluctuations in price (which Rebag will track and notify customers about), and determining when and for how much they are willing to buy or sell.
While Clair extends beyond just Rebag’s platform, Gorra did say he wants to encourage people to sell through the company. Previously, Rebag offered 10% more store credit than cash when buying bags from sellers, but as of the platform’s launch, this is increasing to 15%.
Through Clair, Rebag is part of the next wave of fashion resale, where platforms are encouraging their consumers to think about the clothes they buy as investments and assets, rather than just simple products.
“We’re taking inspiration from financial investments,” Gorra said. “We are creating an asset class, moving the mindset from consumption to investment. The long-term impact is that it will change how people think when they buy. If you’re buying something new, you should be thinking about resale and how this thing you’re buying works as a long-term investment.”
Gorra is hoping that Clair can become an industry-standard benchmark for the resale value of luxury handbags. His vision for the tool is a world in which customers consult the Clair score of a bag before they buy it new, to determine if it’s a healthy investment. For example, a bag that retails for $800 but has a resale value of $200, it would have a net spend of $600. On the other hand, a bag that retails for $2,000 and resells for $1,800 would cost more upfront, but have a lower net spend of only $200.
Many brands lean toward opposite ends of the spectrum. Hermès, for example, tends to have a very high resale value, hovering around 90% of the retail price, while Bottega Veneta is on the lower end, around 30%. That means that even though Hermès is very expensive, it’s also a safer investment if one is looking to resell at a later date.
“Like every market, handbags are dynamic,” Gorra said. “But it’s not as volatile as other categories. In short intervals of time, prices are reasonably stable, but if you look semi-annually or annually, they’ll change more. It’s not like the stock market where it drops every day — but we notify you every time the price changes, so you can predict where it’s heading.”
Gorra said that Clair has been planned since the company launched in 2014 and that it’s taken five years, $52 million in venture capital and 120 people to finally make Clair come together. Rebag is also about to open its ninth store, and Gorra said the company is on track for 30 stores in the next few years.
This view of fashion styles as investments and assets rather than products is one that’s shared with other resale platforms, most notably StockX. StockX was consciously modeled off the stock market when it was launched in 2015, and current CEO Scott Cutler worked at the New York Stock Exchange for years. Cutler said the company’s model is very similar to financial services.
“Even the original concept of StockX, of having a bid and an ask, is essentially viewing resale from a financial services perspective,” Cutler said. “We, as a marketplace, have started to see an interesting level of business awareness, that [sneakers] are a commodity that have a trading value that brings out a host of entrepreneurs looking for an economic opportunity.”
The shift toward a more entrepreneurial model for sellers on StockX is supported by some of the features StockX has included to cater to power sellers, like offering discounts to bulk sellers. Cutler said some users sell hundreds of pairs of sneakers every day. StockX also lets customers see historical prices for different products, a feature which Gorra said is not available in Clair at launch, but will be in the coming months.
But Gorra drew a point of distinction between Rebag and StockX, which, since it began reselling handbags in 2017, has become a direct competitor to Rebag. Both are looking to change how people think about their goods, but in different ways.
“The main difference is that StockX is a peer-to-peer marketplace,” Gorra said. “We’re buying the bags from you, and the price in the Clair score is an evaluation of the value of the product based on our observations of the market. StockX’s prices are just pure, unfiltered numbers from peer-to-peer sales.”
Gorra said that, like sneakers, watches and cars, handbags are expensive and highly valued collector’s items. The higher the price point, the more important that solid information is. Gorra said that, in the future, he envisions Clair being used by department stores, brands, consignment stores and even other resale platforms. Discussions have been underway with a few potential partners, though Gorra said these won’t be announced until later this year.
“The bigger the spend, the more you should focus on assetization,” Gorra said. “If I spend $5 and then lose it, not a big loss. But if you’re spending $5,000 on a bag, that’s an investment, and you want to make sure you’re making the right investment, that you’re making the most savvy decision.”