Luxury Handbag Reseller Rebag Simultaneously Opens Two Stores in Los Angeles
The latest high-profile entry into the booming resale shopping scene in Los Angeles.
Thrift shopping is a booming (and ever-growing) part of the multibillion-dollar global fashion business, projected to hit the $6 billion mark this year. Top contenders in the online resale game are opening brick-and-mortar shops to let customers get a first-hand look at the goods, and make it convenient for those shoppers to easily resell and evaluate pieces from their own closets. In July, San Francisco-based luxury fashion resale company The RealReal opened a 12,000-square-foot location on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood after launching a flagship store in New York last year. Today, handbag-centric New York resale business Rebag debuts not one but two stores in the L.A. area, on Brighton Way in Beverly Hills and on Melrose Place in WeHo.
“This was a very obvious choice for us because L.A. is our biggest market,” says Rebag CEO Charles Gorra. “There’s a very high concentration of the resale eco system in California, specifically in L.A., and I think that’s a reflection of the overall fashion and luxury market. Beverly Hills around Rodeo Drive is one of the largest luxury spends per capita in the world and Melrose fits a different clientele that is a bit more edgy, so we are catering to two different customers. Beverly Hills has a greater concentration of classic styles by Hermes, Chanel and Lous Vuitton, while our color palette and portfolio on Melrose is more broad and vibrant, including Mansur Gavriel and pieces not so standard for resale.”
Rebag gained attention in April when it offered up one of the most rare and sought-after Hermes Birkin bags ever, a uniquely dyed white crocodile Himalayan Birkin (David Beckham bought one for his wife, Victoria, for about $100,000 in 2008) for a mere(!) $70,000. Each Rebag boutique always has a few exotic Birkins in stock, ranging from $20,000 to $60,000, says Gorra. The company also puts effort into unearthing the hottest bags such as Gucci Marmonts, Louis Vuitton x Supreme and limited-edition Chanel.
Founded in 2014 as an online handbag resale business, Rebag opened a flagship store in New York’s Soho neighborhood last year, followed by a second shop on Madison Avenue in April. Those and the two L.A. boutiques (2,000 square feet in WeHo and 1,700 square feet in Beverly Hills) each stock about 500 handbags, including a Hermes Birkin wall that showcases roughly 50 items. Every outpost also has a Rebag Bar, where customers can sell a bag for cash or an additional 10 percent in credit on the spot (no appointment needed) within a guaranteed 60 minutes or exchange a bag purchased within six months (in similar condition) for at least 70 percent of the original price in store credit. The latter is dubbed the "Rebag Infinity" program, targeting clients going for a handbag refresh each season.
The drive behind thrifting is based on a number of factors, says Gorra, such as being thrifty (with a surge in this market since the 2008 recession), the ability to upgrade to brands that otherwise aren’t affordable, sustainability in terms of extending the lifetime of products, and individuality in a space where fashion trends evolve so quickly that it’s impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest. “Another big trend that goes way beyond resale, powering business like Airbnb and Rent the Runway, is how ownership is changing,” he says, “A savvy new generation of consumers doesn’t need to own all their assets anymore.”
While the Rebag Infinity program could be likened to rental, Gorra says that Rebag rather chose an ownership model so clients don’t have to choose weekly or monthly subscriptions. “When you buy a handbag, you probably don’t know how long you’ll need or want it; but when the time comes, we want to give you that exchange option, settled in advance, which we think really crystallizes the mind-set from the time of purchase.”
So how does Rebag stand out amongt competitors such as luxury-focused Canadian company LXRandCo, which that has 79 U.S. retail locations, including six California outposts inside Stein Mart stores, or moderate fashion resaler Thredup, which counts four outposts in California and reportedly has plans in the works for over 100 locations (not to mention Poshmark, Depop, Tradesy, Vestaire Collective and Grailed)?
“We are experts in the handbag category,” says Gorra, “Our mission is to put together the most interesting, unique assortment of bags out there in a curated and affordable way.” The company also stresses it is not a consignment business or peer-to-peer marketplace; Rebag purchases all its bags outright, either at the Rebag Bar in stores within 60 minutes or online once a quote is accepted after a client sends in imagery.
What’s next? More retail locations are in the works in key luxury markets and one-off artist bags may be coming soon. The company has commissioned five artists to hand-paint designs on canvas or leather Louis Vuitton and Hermes bags as “a way to express that retail is not just the end, but that it’s beautiful to give these pieces new life as part of the Rebag mission to recondition and rebirth some of the product,” says Gorra, adding that the bags are for display and gifting, but not for sale. “We are possibly commercializing them at some point, given the demand, because you always want what you can’t get!”
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Rebag at 8461 Melrose Place in West Hollywood and 9546 Brighton Way in Beverly Hills, (844) 373-7723, open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.