The RealReal; A First-hand Experience in Second-hand Luxury
According to Brooklynite Hilary Reid, designer re-seller the RealReal is “a Radical Vision of Second-hand Luxury.” In an article published by The New Yorker on May 14, 2018, Reid takes readers on a journey through the RealReal’s carefully curated SoHo location on Wooster street, and in part, experiences her first brand authentication workshop (offered for free and lead by the RealReal staff). Detailed in Reid’s article, is the RealReal’s captivating approach to consignment culture, where a blending of re-sale content, industry knowledge, and community outreach redefines the ways in which a complex consumer market (varying income levels) relates to “high fashion.” In “The RealReal’s Radical Vision of Second-hand Luxury,” Reid explains the history of this booming marketplace, which was established online in 2011 by San Fransisco entrepreneur Julie Wainwright. The RealReal, which receives fifty percent of their business from first-time consignment shoppers (many designer buyers are new to consignment) looks to fill a specific niche in the second-hand industry; certified authenticity. As felt in Reid’s account, The RealReal raises the bar by demanding a new level of thoroughness and quality control which simply cannot be matched when shopping in thrift stores such as Goodwill or searching for designer brands over mass online re-sellers such as Amazon, Ebay, and Poshmark. Reid briefly comments on the clear differences between thrifting and RealReal shopping, suggesting that the RealReal’s strict quality standards may undermine it’s original intentions of consumer inclusivity. Nevertheless, any buyer looking for a shopping experience to compliment their fashion intel will find a home at The RealReal. Each and every item (online or in-store) is carefully inspected and certified by hand-picked horologists, gemologists, and authenticators. Once approved by “The RealReal Experts,” the products are professionally photographed for the online marketplace, or creatively displayed in-store with honor and integrity in mind. As detailed in conversation by Reid and creator Julie Wainwright, this process of quality is the only process that Wainwright, her fellow curators, and over fifteen hundred employees can see fit. After all, one hundred and seventy three million dollars in venture capital last year just can’t be wrong.