Is everything authenticated? Does the product really look like what I see in the photo? Am I truly getting what I think I’m getting? – just some of the questions that arise when we consider purchasing a luxury good. Now, one woman has made it her mission to guarantee that these questions are a thing of the past. For lawyer-turned-entrepeneur Sabrina Sadiq, a passion for the ‘Birkin’ bag led her to create one of the most authentic ways to buy and sell previously owned designer goods – all with the touch of a button.
Cutting-edge technology, expert authenticators, and a promise to deliver the absolute best are the cornerstones of Luxury Promise, the app that not only revolutionizes the way women shop, but also takes on the bigger issues faced in the fashion industry. Created at the start of 2017 in London, its popularity grew worldwide, which led Sadiq to the realization that what she had created was more than just a shopping opportunity. This online platform helps women liquidate their designer goods and create new experiences, all while combatting the counterfeit market. But there’s even more to Luxury Promise. In the context of online shopping, finding previously owned luxury items is effortless. The problem, however, arises when it comes to authentication – and Sadiq has found a way to combat that as well.
Between the use of artificial intelligence and the knowledge of luxury experts, users can validate their product within seconds from the comfort of their home. It’s this New Age approach to the consignment market that makes Luxury Promise stand out and open up the market to shoppers around the world. In this exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Sadiq delves into the state-of-the-art technology behind Luxury Promise, what led her to launch the platform, and the absolute best way to take care of designer bags.
Can you tell us a little about Luxury Promise?
It is a marketplace where people can buy and sell previously owned luxury goods from the comfort of their home using AI – artificial intelligence – to help them set a price against their items. Through our app, you can take a photo of your item, and we can give you an instant price. We’re faster than any other platform of this sort. Ease and speed in particular is how we’re superior. We also have a model catering to those who aren’t very tech-savvy or not interested in downloading the app and handling their own listing; we’ll manage that process, and even come to your house to collect the item. We provide a service for different types of people and try to find a solution for everyone. Our main mission is to serve our customers rather than just focusing on the product.
How did you implement the AI technology?
Prior to setting up Luxury Promise, I set up one of the first schools of authentication in Europe. I taught companies how to spot fakes, how to price items, and how to build a luxury business. I was also a lawyer prior to that. In the past ten years, I’ve collected a lot of data and information on valuations and authentication, so when I was speaking to other people and working with other companies, I realized there was a big gap in the market. There wasn’t anything that was actually advanced in technology – just basic e-commerce sites or basic marketplaces.
There was nothing really serving the Middle East that was technologically advanced, and it was the same case for emerging markets like Asia. One of my passions is to make sure that items are priced correctly because they do have value, so someone needs to give you an index and a valuation – and we do that with our AI. At the same time, we allow women and men to have access to our product all over the world. Whether you’re sitting in Dubai or Taipei, we’ll be able to send you the item or you can sell your item on our platform.
And how did you go from lawyer to entrepreneur?
I’ve always loved handbags, so really, it’s a career that started out of passion. I used to collect vintage bags and always dreamed of owning an Hermès ‘Kelly’, but couldn’t get access to one. When traveling, I managed to find one from a pre-loved store, bought the item, and somebody wanted to buy it from me for double the price! I thought, “Hang on, there seems to be a market.”
What the pre-loved market does is democratize luxury. It allows people to have access when they might not be able to own full-priced items. It also gives people access to more exclusive items that they can’t just walk into a store and buy on the spot. What we’re also doing is providing a sense of security through the authentication of experts as well as using AI to help identify fakes and give accurate pricing.
How accurate is the AI?
I’d say 98 percent, but we use it as a second opinion in authentication, so we’re also checking if the images are correct and running it through a machine. It’s an enabler, but not a replacement – it helps us, but we still depend on humans to check every item.
It seems that with Luxury Promise, it’s not just about providing women with luxury goods – there’s another side to it.
Yes, we’re not just working with the products, we’re creating a solution for the people who are using our platform as well as combatting an issue created by the secondhand market. It’s worth $25 billion, yet there’s no regulation, no pricing index. How do you find out the value of your item? People look at several sites, but with us, you can get a valuation easily. We even have a YouTube channel that helps you figure out how to spot a fake.
Even if people come to us asking how to spot a fake, we’ll give them advice and, if we can see it’s fake, we’ll tell them for free. That’s what we’re about: combatting the counterfeit market that’s worth $3 trillion. With the black market, it means underground money coming from unethical sources is used, creating a larger issue that we want to help stop.
Most handbags tend to depreciate in value over time, but certain ones don’t. Can you speak on this?
I’m a big believer in the products that I sell. There are certain styles that we sell very well, which include the ‘Birkin’ and ‘Kelly’ by Hermès. You’ll see statements that say that the ‘Birkin’ is a better investment than gold or stocks – which is true. It’s so valuable because you can’t just walk into the store and buy one, making it exclusive. This is basic economics; high demand and low supply means the price is higher, and this is the same with luxury goods. Classic pieces are investments, so pieces that never go on sale, ones that aren’t affected by trends and will always be around are those that will appreciate in value.
Through Luxury Promise, it seems that promoting the re-selling of designer goods is a sustainable option as well. Was that part of the appeal for you?
It’s about sustainability. Someone may love the item that you no longer love and, if you have a bag that you’re not using, you have to be smart enough to let go of it. The world has changed – with millennialization, people want the experience of owning a luxury item, but might not want to hold onto an item for very long. This is why pre-loved is so good; it allows people to have that experience and, when the experience is over, they can sell the item and use the money towards another.
When it comes to bags, what can the owner do to ensure that their item keeps its value for them to resell it?
Protect the handles by using a scarf wrapped around it. This prevents it from getting damaged by the grease, makeup, or chemicals found on your hands. When you’re not using the bag, put the stuffing back into it – but don’t overstuff – to help it keep its shape. Put it back in its dust bag as well. It’s beneficial to keep our things stored away when we’re not using them. If you have a white bag, make sure you’re not wearing it with jeans as the denim can affect its color. These are investment pieces that you can liquidate and turn into income, so it’s worth looking after them if you can.
What standards does a bag have to meet in order to be accepted?
To be honest, we’ve had bags in all conditions come in, but that will reflect in the value. If it has been altered, then we’ll price it accordingly – but we do accept all conditions.