The RealReal Is Set To Redefine Sustainable Luxury

By Phebe Wahl | March 20, 2020 | Style & Beauty

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Everything you see in The RealReal’s store is for sale (and online)—including the furniture, decor and these Hellessy, The Row and Brock Collection looks.

Let’s talk numbers: 14 million members with 14,000 unique SKUs processed per day. Luxury resale is a $189 billion business (according to a 2019 Frost & Sullivan report) and The RealReal (870 Madison Ave., therealreal.com) is leading the charge.

The concept was born out of an epiphany—that, fittingly, occurred while out shopping with a girlfriend. Founder Julie Wainwright started the venture at her kitchen table in 2011, and the startup has blossomed into a full-fledged movement driven by an increased interest in sustainable fashion. Today, the company boasts three retail stores in New York City and Los Angeles and nine Luxury Consignment Offices across the country. It will debut a fourth store, in San Francisco’s Union Square, in the first half of 2020.

“We’re at a point in fashion history when personal style reigns supreme and vintage is on the rise,” explains Sasha Skoda, head of women’s for the company. “Designer runways create guardrails for what retailers will buy into, but resale platforms like The RealReal give shoppers the ability to revisit any style from any decade at any time.” Industry reports confirm that demand for vintage is on the rise.

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The RealReal reports that some of the resale value heroes include the brands shown here like Hermès, Gucci, David Yurman, Bvlgari and Manolo Blahnik.

“The rise of the sharing economy has taken the stigma out of resale and removed the need to own something forever,” says Rati Levesque, chief operating officer. She explains that resale is also shifting consumers to an investment mindset. “They make purchases now with the intention to consign them in the future and make a significant portion back on the original cost—it’s an investment,” she says.

This power is amplified by a growing consciousness to protect the planet. “We’re having more and more conversations with luxury brands as they realize not only some of these fiscal benefits, but the environmental benefits as well. Building a circular economy keeps these luxury items in circulation and out of landfills, and that strengthens the luxury retail ecosystem,” says Allison Sommer, director of strategic initiatives. A side of sustainability with that Dior Saddle bag? Yes, please.

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The demand for vintage, such as this Gucci dress, is on the rise now more than ever.

“Stella McCartney said it best in an interview with Vogue: ‘It’s the biggest compliment for your product to have an afterlife—to me, that’s luxury,’” says Skoda. “Brands that are made well will have multiple lives. Not only is that a testament to a brand’s quality, but it’s also good for the planet.”



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Photography by: Top photo by Or Harpaz; all other photos courtesy of The RealReal