For the first time in its almost-six-year history, Rebag — the resale platform for buying and selling luxury handbags secondhand — will start peddling something that isn't, well, bags.
On Wednesday, the company is announcing it will now carry accessories. That includes sunglasses, scarves, shawls, charms and keychains, belts, gloves, hair accessories and hats, small home accessories and small leather goods from luxury brands. It's Rebag's first foray into a new category.
"We'd been talking about this for a long time," Charles Gorra, CEO and founder of Rebag, tells Fashionista. "It has always been on our radar, to some extent, because the idea of category expansion is something that comes from our customers all the time."
Rebag started working on making it a reality around six months ago, he said: "Right after the holiday season, we put that on our 2020 road map, with a May launch. We moved that back by a month because of the current environment, but now it's ready to roll for June." As businesses began to reopen after Covid-19 shutdowns and resumed planning for the remainder of the year, the company decided to move forward with the launch, according to Gorra.
The executive says "it became pretty obvious to us reasonably soon" that accessories would be a natural next step, in terms of category expansion, for Rebag. "First of all, the universe of brands is the same as the designers we currently address," he explains. "These are brands that we have a lot of knowledge on — albeit in another category, but they're still within our familiar realm." Then, there's the fact that handbags, its bread and butter, technically are accessories. Plus, Rebag has carried select "adjacent" products, like certain small leather goods, in the past.
"I think accessories share a lot of features with handbags — they do not have sizes or as many sizes as apparel, [which makes it] easier for us to manage," Gorra continues. There are also "a more limited number of references, or SKUs." Then, because the product is generally smaller, "it's reasonably easy to handle and ship."
Rebag had been fielding questions about when it would expand its offerings into other kinds of products for years, Gorra says. But the company held off because "the reality is this business is accuracy. We have to execute with a high level of performance and precision because of the high-end price point of the item, which is why we wanted to be very cautious and to make sure as an organization that we were equipped." That meant having more capital (which it secured in May) and more people in leadership positions that would allow Rebag to execute this kind of project (which it's been hiring for over the past year).
"The most important piece was that we only wanted to launch a new category when we felt we had already well executed and almost mastered our core category, which is handbags. And if you look at it, it actually took us five years, [which] some could argue it's a lot of time."
Gorra says that Rebag "had to reorganize quite a few things" internally before fully delving into the world of accessories. That included the buying and authentication teams studying and collecting products, the operations team learning how to tend to items it hadn't been working with before and the photography team figuring out how to shoot it. "It's basically like a puzzle — each piece is manageable on its own, and it's just about a lot of details and minutia," he explains.
"The good news is, we had all the knowledge that we needed internally already," Gorra continues. "That's also why we wanted to start with accessories because we believe that although it's not something that we currently cover, it's something that our team can expand itself into, through research and training and investigation."
As the resale market continues to grow, with more and more retailers wanting a piece, Gorra says that Rebag's differentiation in the accessories space will be the same it's been in handbags: its business model. "We purchase the good upfront — it's not consignment, it's not peer-to-peer," he explains. "We're going to replicate our usual value proposition, which is an instant, upfront purchase." You'll be able to sell your accessories to Rebag in its stores, when those reopen, he adds, and use its software pricing technology, Clair, on accessories at launch.
The company's focus right now is on launching and fine-tuning its first-ever category expansion over the next few months. But according to Gorra, it's open to exploring other areas it can grow into.
"We have inbounds all the time from customers, about everything," he says. "For us, it's just a function of figuring out: Does it work with our business model? Can we take inventory risk in that category? Do we believe we have the organization, the system and the people to support that with high quality? As soon as we can answer 'yes' to these questions, we can start thinking about various categories."
"We do think that the resale market is going to see tremendous growth in the next few years," Gorra continues. "We are interested in capturing a larger share of wallets — or a larger share of closets."