Luxury handbag marketplace Rebag raises $25M to expand to 30 more stores

Rebag, an online resale marketplace for luxury handbags, is getting another infusion of capital as it prepares to expand its offline retail operations. The company this week announced $25 million in Series C funding, in a round led by private equity firm Novator, with participation from existing investors, General Catalyst and FJ Labs.

The round brings Rebag’s total raise to date to $52 million.

Rebag competes with other luxury goods resellers, like TheRealReal, and to some extent with broader resale marketplaces like thredUP or Poshmark, which also attract shoppers looking to buy quality pre-owned items. And it exists in alongside large marketplaces like eBay as well as rental shops like Rent the Runway, which offers an alternative to a site focused only on handbags.

In fact, Rebag founder and CEO Charles Gorra spent a brief period at Rent the Runway, before leaving to start Rebag in 2014. At the time, he said he saw an immediate opportunity to not just rent the items out, but to actually resell them on a secondary market.

Today, Rebag’s shop sells bags from over 50 designer brands, including all the majors like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, and others.

However, in the years following Rebag’s launch, the company has expand its offerings beyond just online resale to include brick-and-mortar retail and, more recently, a service called Rebag Infinity, which allows shoppers to turn in any Rebag handbag purchase within 6 months in exchange to receive a credit of at least 70 percent of the purchase price.

Last year, Rebag made headlines in the fashion world for selling the rare Hermès White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin collectible – typically an over $100,000 bag – for “just” $70,000, to celebrate the opening of its 57th Street and Madison Avenue store, its second Manhattan flagship location.

With the new funding, Rebag will expand its offline footprint, it says. The company currently operates five stores in New York and L.A. but plans to launch 30 more locations in the “medium term.” This will include both standalone storefronts, as well as presences within luxury malls.

It’s common these days for resale marketplaces these days to take their wares to offline shoppers. TheRealReal, Rent the Runway, ThredUP, and others all today offer real world locations, where shoppers can browse in person instead of just online.

Rebag says since it opened its retail stores las year, it moved from being a 100 percent digital operation to 80 percent digital, and 20 percent offline. Its sourcing network also grew to include over 20,000 stylists, partners, shoppers and sales associates.

With the funding, Rebag adds it will also refine its pricing and handbag evaluation tools aimed at standardizing the resale process, something that could represent another business for the brand (or make it attractive to an acquirer.)

“We are a technology company first,” noted founder and CEO Charles Gorra, in a statement. “Our goal is to become the standard for the luxury resale industry, just like Kelley Blue Book is the main resource for the auto industry.”

The company plans also to triple its team of 100, which today includes newer hires CTO Jay Winters (Delivery.com, Goldman Sachs) and CMO Elizabeth Layne (Bonobos, Appear Here).

Rebag doesn’t share its hard numbers about sales, revenues, valuation, customer base or others, but told us it has tripled revenues since its Series B.

Italic launches its marketplace for affordable luxury goods from top manufacturers

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A new startup called Italic says it’s already received more than 100,000 signups for a marketplace where you can buy handbags, eyewear and other luxury products directly from the manufacturers who work with the world’s best-known brands.

The marketplace is officially launching today. Italic is also announcing that it’s raised $13 million in funding from Comcast Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Index Ventures, Ludlow Ventures and others.

Founder and CEO Jeremy Cai previously co-founded the Y Combinator-backed hiring startup OnboardIQ (now known as Fountain.com), so this sounds like a pretty big change. However, Cai said he comes from a family in the manufacturing business, so he was acutely aware of the challenges facing manufacturers.

“The history of manufacturing has been about margins,” he said. “Even though they make the final product, they barely make a profit.”

Under the traditional model, it’s the brands that buy the goods from the manufacturers and make the real profit by marking up prices. So Cai saw an opportunity to remove the brands from the equation — Italic handles the consumer-facing side of the business, like product design and marketing, but it doesn’t actually buy anything. Instead, it operates more like a marketplace, connecting consumers and manufacturers.

Jeremy Cai

This also means the manufacturers are assuming more of the risk around the initial cost of creating the products, but Cai said that in return, they get much more of the upside. And apparently, Italic’s initial partners “jumped at the opportunity”: “They’ve been waiting for an option like this to get to get direct-to-consumer.”

Under the Italic model, the manufacturers remain anonymous, but the company says customers will be able to purchase handbags and leather goods from factories that work with Prada, Christian Louboutin and Givenchy; eyewear from a factory that works with EssilorLuxottica; bedding factories that work with Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons; and leather jackets from the same factory as J Brand.

Cai said this model also means consumers will pay significantly less than they would for luxury goods — most of the handbags will cost less than $300, the prescription eyewear will cost less than $100, leather jackets will be around $425 and bedding will be priced between $80 and $120. You’ll certainly be able to find cheaper products elsewhere, but the idea is sell to “the middle 40 percent” of consumers who are interested in high-quality products but want to be “a lot more frugal and smart with their dollars.”

And while Cai declined to specify the commission that Italic is charging manufacturers, he did say it differs from industry to industry, and added, “Our manufacturers make several multiples more than they make with their current brand clients.”

During our conversation, Cai repeatedly emphasized the difference between Italic and many of the new direct-to-consumer brands that have emerged online (such as Warby Parker and Casper).

Italic

When I wondered whether the marketplace vs. brand distinction will be lost on most consumers, he replied, “On the design side, we’re extremely intentional. We’re designing it with the messaging that we operate differently, you’re buying from a merchant who is an anonymous manufacturer. The sole intention is that when someone asks you, ‘Where did you get that handbag?’ you say, ‘I got this handbag from Italic, on Italic.’ The goal is to operate more like a retailer without any brands.”

At the same time, he acknowledged that Italic is itself a sort of brand, albeit with a unique business model.

“At the end of the day, it’s impossible to say we aren’t building a brand,” he said. “But the brand of Italic [should be that] we can consistently bring you high quality products at an incredible price point.”

Italic will operate on a membership model, which Cai said will allow the company to control demand, since quantities are limited. It also allows the company to solicit product feedback from members, and there could be other benefits like shipping discounts. Members who signup initially will get a year for free, but it will eventually cost $120 annually.

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Sneaker marketplace GOAT announces an AR-centric Black Friday giveaway

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Black Friday giveaways have become a tradition for online sneaker marketplace GOAT. Today it’s announcing the details of this year’s campaign, which will be its first to incorporate augmented reality.

Director of Communications Liz Goodno described this as “the largest digital sneaker event of the year.” The company says it will be offering more than 1,000 prizes, including sneakers like the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Shattered Backboard, KAWSx Air Jordan 4 Retro Black, Pharrell x BBC x NMD Human Race Trail Heart/Mind, plus curated sneaker packs and up to $10,000 in GOAT credit.

You can enter the drawing anytime between now and 11:59pm Pacific on Thursday, November 22, with the winners notified at noon on Black Friday.

All participants will receive 100 tickets, but you can earn bonus tickets by visiting locations on an interactive GOAT map, which will highlight spots around the world that are tied to all-time great athletes and to sneaker history. Those locations really are global, and they include “Sneaker Street” in Hong Kong, San Francisco’s Moscone Center (where the iPhone debuted) and the location of Muhammad Ali’s historic victory over George Foreman in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Also on the list are the New York and Los Angeles locations of Flight Club, the famous sneaker retailer that GOAT merged with earlier this year. And you can earn even more tickets by sharing augmented reality graphics that superimpose a “Greatest of All Time” message, or a newspaper highlighting sneaker history, on real-world imagery.

GOAT

IT Manager Clint Arndt, CEO Eddy Lu

GOAT showed off the AR capabilities at an event with Apple last week at Flight Club New York. The AR elements were built using Apple’s ARKit, and it sounds like the startup plans to do more with the technology in the future.

“We’ve always wanted to incorporate augmented reality technology,” Goodno said, but the challenge, until ARKit, was integrating the technology into the GOAT app. “As a sneaker marketplace there are so many use cases for AR.” (Nike has also been using AR to connect with sneakerheads through its SNKRS app.)

At the event, co-founder and CEO Eddy Lu also talked about the company’s plans beyond AR, saying that “next year, international is a huge thing for us” — which means it’ll be doing more to localize its apps. In addition, it’s getting ready to open its next Flight Club store, this time in Miami.

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Walmart’s marketplace items get free 2-day shipping, in-store returns

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With Fulfillment by Amazon, marketplace sellers can make their products eligible for Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping. Today, Walmart is catching up on this front. The retailer today announced it’s expanding its 2-day shipping to the millions of products offered by its own marketplace sellers. This expansion will roll out in the months ahead, alongside a process for simpler returns on marketplace purchases.

Walmart first launched free, 2-day shipping across millions of products back in January 2017, for orders that were over $35. The move was meant to challenge Amazon Prime, as all it required was a minimum purchase – not an annual membership fee.

Now, that same shipping option will be made available across Walmart’s marketplace, too.

The company says it will initially work with its hundreds of “high-performing” sellers to introduce free, two-day shipping across their eligible items in the U.S. This is being announced today, but will roll out more broadly in the coming months, Walmart notes.

The company tells us it’s implementing 2-day shipping in a number of ways.

It’s enabling it for sellers with their own internal capabilities and it’s introducing the ability to implement geographical settings so two-day shipping is available for specific areas based on the location of an individual seller’s fulfillment network, it says.

Plus, Walmart is working with third-party providers to help fulfill the items, such as Deliverr.

In addition to two-day shipping, Walmart is simplifying returns for items bought through its online marketplace by offering an easier way to manage online returns. Customers will now be able to log into their Walmart.com account and print out a return label to ship items directly back to sellers.

But shipping isn’t always the easiest way to manage returns. That’s where the retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores will come in. Starting in mid-November, customers will be able to return their eligible marketplace purchases in Walmart stores at the Services desk.

Previously, Walmart’s own items could be returned in store, but not those bought from third-party sellers.

Walmart says that 140 million customers shop its stores weekly, and 90% of Americans today live within 10 miles of one of its locations.

With this change, Walmart will facilitate the return of marketplace items by shipping items back to sellers on the customer’s behalf. The customer will then receive a refund from the seller.

This service will be available at all of Walmart’s 4,700 stores, the retailer notes.

 

 

 

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Picfair gives every photographer on its marketplace their own store

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Picfair, the photo marketplace that competes with Getty and Shutterstock by giving photographers a fairer deal, is adding a major update to its offering today. The London-based startup is launching Picfair Stores, giving the 35,000 photographers on its marketplace the ability to create their own free independent online store. Customers who buy from a Picfair Store can choose a licensed digital copy or a physical print.

“We’re moving beyond being just a new generation stock image marketplace,” Picfair founder Benji Lanyado, who used to be a journalist at The Guardian, tells me. “With stores, and prints, and more… we’re becoming a fully featured commercial ecosystem for photographers. At the heart of it all: the principle that anyone should be able to make money from their images, simply and fairly”.

In addition, every image on a photographer’s individual Picfair Store will also be available simultaneously on Picfair’s marketplace, which Lanyado likens to “thousands of local image stores across the globe, with a central Amazon-style megastore they all feed in to”.

He also says it is the first time anyone has combined a marketplace, with the added control of website builders, such as Wix or Squarespace, and the on-demand print functionality of Smugmug or Zenfolio, all built with amateur photographers in mind (although the line to amateur and professional is becoming increasingly blurred).

“Picfair is uniting all of this. The control of a website builder. The commercial structures of an e-commerce platform. The exposure of a marketplace, with added price control and fair royalty splits,” Lanyado says.

Less tech-driven but perhaps equally significant, Picfair has recently launched a photo agency unit, building on top of its bread and butter business of selling image licenses to editorial and marketing companies. It came about slightly accidentally, says Lanyado, after brands and creative agencies started approaching the company asking if it could help them find photographers across the globe.

Initially we just introduced the photographers to the clients directly, like idiots,” he tells me. “Then we started acting like non-idiots and offered our services as a photographer-finder agency, with a very hand black book of 35,000 photographers around the world. We’ve already worked with Google, VisitBritain, Ogilvy and a few other big brands too. The cool bit: all of our leads have come from our community. Most of our photographers aren’t professionals, and their jobs cover the creative gamut: production people in creative agencies, marketing folk etc. The marketplace is generating leads for the agency!”.

Meanwhile, Picfair has just closed a $540,000 equity crowdfunding round. This saw many of its photographers take part, meaning that the company is now part photographer-owned. It adds to a £1.5 million seed round raised a year ago.

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