Rebag, the platform for buying, selling and trading luxury handbags, jewelry and watches, today announced it has raised $33 million in a Series E funding round led by private equity firm Novator, with participation from existing investors such as General Catalyst. This brings the company’s total funding raised to $101 million.
Following a strong year driven by technological advances and category expansion, the latest round positions Rebag for its next cycle of innovation and accelerated growth. In the last 12 months, Rebag has tracked a high growth trajectory, and nearly tripled its business on a two-year basis since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
“We did our previous funding round in early 2020 when the world was a much different place,” founder and CEO Charles Gorra told me. “Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve been able to thrive in that environment in spite of all the challenges. We’re certainly at a more meaningful scale now. A lot of that has to do with the powerful trends around resale that were already in place. It’s the idea of people caring more about sustainability and the fact that everyone was stuck at home last year for months.”
Gorra said imposed time at home during the pandemic helped consumers reassess their values as citizens of the world and consumers. “The outcome is that a lot of people want to be more mindful,” he said. “They want to buy the best goods that are higher quality and maintain their value because they were produced in a certain way. For sure, resale is a huge component of that.”
“We’ve been impressed by the quality and consistency of the execution from the Rebag team”, says Birgir Ragnarsson, managing partner of Novator. “We believe that the luxury resale space is still in its early innings. Rebag has carved out a unique approach that will facilitate its massive scaling”.
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The company has experienced the quadruple growth of new categories such as fine jewelry and watches since Rebag’s category expansion in 2020. The brand tripled sourcing due to the launch of Clair AI and Clair Trade with one in five buyers simultaneously trading items to Rebag following the recent Clair Trade launch. With Clair Trade, a software-powered instant trade-in program for luxury resale, consumers can buy and sell items in one transaction, and only pay for the difference.
Clair AI is a tool that can instantly recognize and price handbags from the top 50 luxury brands. Users can simply scan a bag using the Rebag app or upload an image to receive the handbag’s brand and model, along with an offer that Rebag will pay for it on the spot.
While there are a slew of new entrants in the luxury resale space, Gorra said Rebag’s more than six years of experience in the sector and proprietary technology sets it apart, along with the elevated shopping and selling experience offered online and in stores.
“Like any attractive market, there are new luxury resale brands and I’m sure there will be more,” Gorra said. “From our perspective, we’ve been around for six-plus years and that’s why we raised this round. We have to double down on what makes us special and what makes us unique.”
One thing that makes Rebag different is its intense focus on premium items, said Gorra. “Our average ticket now is $2,000,” he said. “When you’re in the world of luxury, customers have so many more expectations. That’s why we have a unique model where we buy the product from consumers and we’re very speedy in our process. From the perspective of the buyer, authentication is critical.”
Rebag developed its suite of technology tools that authenticate and price luxury handbags, the Clair system. “A lot of the capital we raised goes to that, Clair Search, Clair AI and Clair Trade,” Gorra said. “All of that is our proprietary R&D and we’re going to develop more and more tools. It’s about creating transparency for sellers, it’s about creating immediacy, and what I call seamlessness and ease of use for all parties.
“The idea is that right now, with Clair AI, you can download the app and scan this one front-facing picture of an item, it will recognize what it is and tell you how much we’ll pay for it. AI like all things is a completely dynamic process, so there’s always newer products. There’s always more products being traded.”
When Clair AI launched last year, it had 15,000 handbag references. The latest version has over 30,000 references, so in a about a year, Rebag was able to double its coverage of luxury handbags. “It’s hard because there’s always more pieces for which you don’t have a lot of data,” Gorra said. “How we can essentially increase the coverage? Ultimately, we want to cover everything that’s luxury or premium.”
Rebag will use part of the funds from the Series E to expand Clair AI to categories such as small accessories, jewelry and timepieces. Gorra said watches, for example are poised to grow tenfold this year. “We’re working to extend our core handbag expertise and deploy similar tools across the three other categories. We see a lot of opportunities in the watches and jewelry, which are still extensions of what we do at this point. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can access there.”
Gorra said luxury brands are tightening production on iconic handbags, which is driving up demand and price inflation in the primary and secondary markets. Hermes doesn’t divulge the number of Birkin and Kelly bags it produces, but according to the Wall Street Journal, it likely made fewer of the two models in 2020 and may have sold only 100,000 globally this year.
“Frankly, there’s also been some manufacturing issues for the last couple of years with the Covid-19 pandemic and the worldwide transportation issues. Some of that is part of the restrictions brands are placing on products, and some of that is engineered to try to make the brands more and more exclusive. The appetite underlying the demand is so huge, it’s creating an imbalance between that supply and is creating significant inflation, which we see as well in the secondary market.
“We do a lot of analysis on price inflation,” Gorra said. “Chanel, this year, increased prices twice. We ran charts in our last resale report that showed they’ve had four price increases in the U.S., typically $500 each time. That means a bag priced at $5,000 or $6,000 pre-pandemic, now costs $7,000 or $8,000, or maybe even $9,000. Mathematically, those price increases are reflected pretty much immediately in the secondary market.”
Rebag will also use the round to scale its tech-enabled brick-and-mortar business. Over the past year, Rebag modified its traditional retail model, integrating high-tech touchpoints throughout the store for an immersive retail experience in a more compact format. The company in December unveiled its first “Rebag Bar” in Manhattan, a micro version of its traditional store offering a gateway to the Rebag ecosystem through a personalized digital shopping journey.
“We have nine stores now and we can at least double that because there’s obvious areas where we’re not located,” Gorra said, adding that in addition to Manhattan, there are Rebag Bar units in Miami and Beverly Hills. “There’s so many luxury hubs in the U.S. where we don’t have a presence.”
Opening Rebag Bars at other retailers is “the next frontier,” Gorra said. “That’s always been our thesis. The reality is there’s a lot more people who need to learn about Rebag. We built this very unique experience because of the technology and because of our team. We have consistent satisfaction from customers. Our Net Promoter Score is always over 70, so we know people love what we do. The next chapter is how do we become more ubiquitous.”