Authenticity is one of the prime elements missing from the second-hand clothing industry. Sure there are good authentic products to be found but most people would rather not spend the time to sort through the mess that most stores have on display. The RealReal attempts to redefine this under-appreciated industry by transforming second-hand consignment into a boutique experience.
The authenticity of leather bags can be determined in multiple ways and it mostly comes down to the quality of leather. Even the smell of the leather, in which fakes have a strong chemical smell, can determine a fake item. An article in the New Yorker had detailed their workshops on how to spot fake luxury goods. The RealReal has been conducting free workshops for customers and fashion enthusiasts to get educated about knock-off products.
The idea of fakes being present in everyone's closet is not entirely absurd. It is easier than ever to import fake products from China to resell online and unsuspecting people end up buying them. Many RealReal locations will be swarmed by fake items coming in and many of them are from regular people. If you received a gift from a friend, it still may be questionable.
Julie Wainwright has been behind the RealReal since 2011 and had mostly been an online business. This high-value entrepreneur had luck with other e-commerce ventures in the past and her knowledge took this brand sky high in no-time.
Second-hand shops will typically have to sell mass products to make a profit since most people come in with the expectation of spending very little. This is why you see piles of unkempt clothes and racks without labels for low-budget shoppers to sort through. Boutiques that deal with high-value luxury items certainly is not common.
What Julie's company does is take luxury brands, authenticates them and puts them on display in the best light possible. You can see their passion for quality by browsing through their website. Each item is professionally photographed and a lot of love is put into the description. The quality is so great that most buyers are normal retail shoppers looking for a good deal.
According to Julie, trying to offload luxury goods on eBay, Amazon or local consignment shops is a pure nightmare. There are so many risks and you will be left with underwhelming bids on your product. The RealReal chases high-value customers to get higher profit margins for their clients.
Since the founding of their website, over 8 million users have registered and at least have been active.
It is harder to get online users to cosign their items on the internet, which explains them expanding to brick & mortar locations in New York and California.
The RealReal may not be for everyone but there is certainly a factor of convenience by not having to dig through clothes at regular second-hand stores. Their stores offer a unique experience of boutique displays that match many high-end fashion stores in New York.
It will be likely that more stores will be popping up under this brand since hundreds of millions from venture capital companies have been invested. A recent example is a large venture capital company had pumped an additional $50 million into the company in 2017. The previous year was rather successful with over $500 million in revenue for just a second-hand dealer.