How Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way You Shop for Your Next Handbag


You walk into your closet and you see… a mess. But what if you saw dollars? Clair AI, a new image recognition tool powered by machine learning from the luxury reseller Rebag, can now generate instant quotes for all of your handbags.

Every so often a new application that bills itself as the Shazam of fashion emerges, but Clair AI—as in artificial intelligence—is something different. Charles Gorra, Rebag’s CEO and the driving force behind the new technology, says, “it’s easy enough to build a tool where you take a picture and it feeds back a few things that look like it. What we do has to be much more accurate. We’re giving a firm price of what we’re paying.”

The way it works: After downloading the Rebag app from any app store, you snap a photo of the bag you’re thinking about selling with your camera phone, and Clair AI produces a handful of search results. You choose a match and the tool generates a price. “It’s fully immediate. You get the price and if you like the price, you’re done,” says Gorra. Rebag can’t send a drone to pick up the bag from your apartment—not yet. But it’s a streamlined process: “You print your shipping label, the bag is in the box, and you haven’t interacted with anyone to make it happen.”

Gorra’s goal has long been to eliminate the friction in the resale process. “Every time we make the process more simple, more immediate, more transparent, someone else gets in this market that wasn’t there before,” he says. “That’s key because 100% of the products we’ve ever bought we sell.” When Rebag launched the Clair pricing tool in late 2019, submissions tripled. Gorra anticipates equally strong results with the new artificial intelligence technology. After a slow March and April, the pandemic actually accelerated the trend for resale; 2020 was a good year for Rebag with 50% revenue growth. “We still think that everything we see is only the tip of the iceberg, though,” Gorra says. “Resale could be 10, 20, 30 times bigger than what you see right now.”

If Clair AI technology plays a role in that future growth it’ll be because it has applications far beyond your own closet. You can scan your friends’ bags and the bags of strangers you see on the street. It even works on virtual representations of handbags. When Carrie Bradshaw and the other Sex and the City girls make their much talked about return on And Just Like That… viewers will be able to snap photos of the bags on the show. Clair AI could turn Fendi baguettes into It bags all over again, only this time around they’d be second, third, or even fourth hand.

Gorra even envisions shoppers using Clair AI in stores, the way used car buyers consult the Kelley Blue Book. “We’re giving you an instant data point that can help you predict future resale value so you can make the right choice about what first-hand bag to purchase,” he says. He’s betting that the bag that retains 70 or 80% of its original price at Rebag is the bag that gets bought at retail.

The ease of use of and the information-at-your-fingertips of Clair AI begs the question: Will shoppers just buy used luxury goods? As fast as the market is growing, there’s a long way to go to tip the scales. Gorra reports that just over 1 in 10 luxury handbags finds its way into the resale market. “We’re trying to be the index, an infrastructural layer for the industry. That’s valuable to us because we become the standard.” He adds: “We’re trying to have people buy more first-hand bags so we can have more second-hand bags.” Shoppers seem likely to play along. Going back to the closet-as-portfolio concept, it’s a matter of dollar signs.

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