For many years, consignment shops were considered as the lowest of the low in the fashion world, but now that idea has changed. Today, consumers are more concerned about fast fashion, saving money, and preserving the environment. The RealReal is a leader in luxury consigner goods that is changing the face of fashion through sustainability and savings with the expectation to continue to grow into 2020.
Resale is Trending
Listen up, resale and consignment clothes are trending! Thredup’s 2019 report found that the resale market is growing twenty-one times faster than other apparel markets in the past three years and is expected to reach $51 billion by 2023. Women in particular are hopping on the consignment train, with 64% of women having already bought or are willing to buy resold products. The company at the forefront of this trend is The RealReal.
The RealReal’s Start
Julie Wainwright founded the RealReal in 2011. It began as a shaky startup that involved Wainwright working out of her home, right on her kitchen table, and visiting consignors with a U-Haul. Today, that business has exceeded Wainwright’s wildest dreams and transformed into the world’s largest online marketplace of luxury consigner goods.
Over the past few years, The RealReal has gone from being located in someone’s kitchen to having a thriving online marketplace and brick-and-mortar stores. They have three stores located in LA and NYC. In each store, customers can shop, consign, and meet with experts in the consignment offices. Beyond the three consignment offices located within each store, there are an additional six offices in the USA.
In addition to their permanent stores in LA and NYC, The RealReal is experimenting with pop-up stores in locations that feature other luxury chains. So far, The RealReal has had pop-up stores in San Francisco Union Square and Las Vegas at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. Locations such as these are hotspots for those seeking out luxury items, so why not offer a more sustainable and less expensive option? Many customers who entered these pop-ups had not heard of The RealReal or consignment in general, but now that they have tried it, they are hooked!
How It Works
The RealReal provides consumers a quality platform that is both safe and reliable to buy and sell their luxury items. For customers interested in selling their items, The RealReal offers home pick-up in 21 different cities, or they can come to one of the stores for a private consultation with expert evaluators. Once an item is accepted, it is shipped to one of The RealReal’s warehouses. Each piece is inspected and authenticated by one of over 100 horologists, gemologists, or brand authenticators before being photographed and released on to the platform.
Consumers can browse The RealReal’s collection online or in brick-and-mortar stores like any other luxury goods store. If shopping online, they can browse the different styles, colors, and sizes available before making their selection. If they want to save it for later, they can “heart” their favorite items and come back to it.
The world is beginning to embrace sustainability more and more, and that forward thinking mindset certainly extends into the realm of fashion. The RealReal emphasizes the concept of circular fashion; instead of making, using, and disposing of fashion items, The RealReal is keeping those luxury goods in circulation. The RealReal states that this type of circular economy is “restorative and regenerative by design.” Many items will receive a new lease on life and be used for years to come, rather than just lying in a landfill somewhere.
Beyond creating an eco-friendly program, The RealReal is teaming up with leaders in the textile industry to help make a change in how fashion impacts the environment and improve sustainability. With over a garbage truck’s-worth of textiles being sent to landfills or burned every second, now is the time to make an impact! The RealReal is a proud member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The RealReal is the only resale company who joined the United Nations Climate Change charter. In addition, The RealReal has taken on the Carbon Neutral Challenge issued by Gucci President and CEO, Marco Bizarri. By 2021, The RealReal plans to be carbon neutral to help reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions and to lead the next generation by example.
Wainwright told CNBC, “Some of the smartest people I know have been buying consignment forever but never talked about it — even some of the richest people I know, because they like good value.” Luxury items are now within reach of every type of consumer. They no longer need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a brand-new item now that The RealReal makes it possible to get the same thing, in great condition, at a drastically reduced price.
Shoppers everywhere love that they can pad their wardrobe with high-end brand name items without breaking the bank. Also, the ability to sell their luxury items for a profit allows them to shop around and buy something new more frequently. This save and sale process is keeping costs low and happiness high.
Unlike the traditional shopping experience of the past, the generation of today loves the hunt. Shoppers enjoy finding the best deals, even if it takes a bit more effort than traipsing around a department store. Consumers, especially Millennials, are taking fashion into their own hands. They are creating new styles by mixing luxury with casual in a way seen never before. The RealReal allows these shoppers to find unique items that cross a wide range of styles. Shoppers can mix and match as they please until they find a look that is uniquely theirs.
The RealReal of the Future
The RealReal will continue to expand in the future. There is a high chance that the number of brick-and-mortar stores will increase and that their online marketplace will grow, ultimately continuing to make a positive impact on the environment and the fashion industry as a whole. So the next time you are thinking of buying a brand new luxury item, check out The Real Real for a better deal that will help save the planet.