Buying a used designer handbag is a trust fall. You risk it all for the potential of finding your dream investment bag at a discount, while anxieties of authenticity, quality, and value retention lurk in the back of your mind. Am I going to destroy my vintage Birkin bag if I clean it with water? What’s the history of the Chanel flap bag and why is it so expensive? Why doesn’t my Gucci bag look like my friend’s Gucci bag? These are the burning questions one asks when you enter the world of second hand luxury. They also happen to be some of the the most frequent queries posed to both Rebag’s customer service and among its Instagram comments.
Rebag, a premiere destination for gently worn designer accessories, has spent its existence upending the resale market through radical transparency. “Historically, if you look at the last ten or twenty years of resale, it’s a very opaque industry,” Charles Gorra, Rebag’s CEO and founder told ELLE.com. “Resale companies typically don’t share too much data, brands are very secretive about products, about how much things are worth, and so it’s difficult to evaluate the value of what you have in your closet. We try to flip that and totally reverse the power.”
The power of knowledge is what Rebag is trying to give back, with a company history to back it up. In 2019 the company launched Clair, the Kelley Blue Book of designer handbags. The proprietary tool enables users to determine the estimated cost of a designer handbag within seconds, lifting the veil off of perceived values and replacing them with a hard and fast price tag. In continuing its commitment of empowering its customers, today marks the launch of The Vault, Rebag’s new website that acts as a resource for anything handbag related, from designer bios to care tips to timely think pieces on runway collections.
A natural progression for the brand, The Vault will answer any questions—and quell any shopping concerns—that comes with buying used. “The reason The Vault even exists is because over time we get all these queries either in our stores or in our customer surveys or to our buying specialists and we thought instead of answering one on one to everyone, it will be interesting to consolidate it. [The Vault] is not made for handbag experts, it’s handbag expertise for everyone who’s interested in resale.”
But how does The Vault differ from traditional fashion outlets? “Commerce and content is merging,” says Gorra. The number of fashion retailers with blogs and blogs that have marketplaces are growing; For example, Net-A-Porter launched Porter Magazine in 2014. But unlike magazines (like yours truly), the site aims to editorialize its hyper-expertise on the resale handbag industry using the data accumulated from its site and the known shopping habits of its customers. “Our goal is to make our data that is very heavy, very specific, and very technical, but simplify it or make it fun and interactive.”
Although The Vault was created long before quarantine, the timing of its launch is serendipitous. While many fashion businesses are suffering in the wake of COVID, Rebag has been fortunate to not only survive, but thrive even in the face of the temporary shut down of its nine brick-and-mortar stores.
The Vault offers an opportunity to fully focus on customers, without the primary concern of selling a handbag. “Customers are less inclined to get into transactional behaviors, but you’ve also seen that a lot of media and store outlets or even others are getting a lot more eyeballs, a lot more engagements and the interest [in fashion] is still there.”
It makes sense for Rebag to search for clicks beyond ‘add to cart.’ “There are only so many moments in the year when you’re actually shopping and willing to get into a transaction for a bag or an accessory,” Gorra admitted. “So even if it’s not holiday season and you’re not right now in the market for your next resale bag, that’s fine, because we can still cater to you.