Inside the RealReal warehouse at the fashion consignment
The RealReal, Inc. is an online and brick-and-mortar marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment.Based on the circular economy. The RealReal sells consigned clothing, fine jewelry, watches, fine art and home decor. It employs an in-house staff of experts including horologists, gemologists, art curators and luxury fashion authenticators who inspect items for authenticity and value. In 2016, RealReal won the Fashion Group International Innovation in Retail e-Commerce Award.
Headquartered in San Fransisco, CA, RealReal was founded by Julie Wainwright, an e-commerce entrepreneur in 2011. On June 28, 2019, RealReal went public on Nasdaq under the symbol Real.
Read this interesting article which was originally published on App store stories who got a sneak peek of the RealReal warehouse and other inside details of this fashion consignment shop.
RealReal is available to download on iOS and Android
Julie Wainwright is ready to go. The luminous 61-year-old founder and RealReal CEO has stepped out from behind her standing desk- “You know what they say- sitting is the new smoking,” she says- at the company’s headquarters near San Fransisco’s Embarcadero.
Wainwright is carrying a Celine bag and is clad in a red floral Ganni dress, a Rolex and attendant Cartier bracelet, and black Giambattista Valli pumps- the petite entrepreneur finds it’s easier to be taken seriously in venture capital boardrooms when she has a little more height.
With the exception of some prescription Prada shades, nearly every visible piece of chicness was purchased from The RealReal, the upscale digital consignment boutique she started in 2011 out of her Marin home with chief merchant- that’s code for “woman with impeccable taste in clothes” – Rati Levesque.
The concept is irresistible- you can buy curated products or sell your own from an extensive list of accepted designers, earning between 50 percent (for sales under $200) and 85 percent (for watches worth more than $2,500) when someone purchases your item, with a 5 percent bonus if you take a store credit instead of a check.
Before your items wind up at a RealReal warehouse, they’re processed by experts- you can mail them in, stop by Luxury Consignment office, or if you’re in a participating city and consigning 10 or more items, get White Glove Service and have The RealReal come to your home.
In the San Fransisco office, you might bring your goods to graduate gemologist Katie Ward (who got her own gold wedding band from The RealReal) or handbag expert Liz Sennett (at the moment wearing a RealReal- sourced Hermes belt, Chanel bracelet, and moonstone rose-gold ring). Ward has a machine that dings like the Price Is Right Big Wheel when it detects a real diamond, while Sennett relies on brand markers to ascertain preliminary authenticity and quality.
“All gold hardware from Hermes is plated,” she says. “So if it has some weird tarnish or is turning a strange color, probably not a good sign. Is the leather correct? Does the zipper pull correctly? Are there a bunch of stains from makeup on the inside?’
After the initial tests, there’s market value to consider- you see the recent selling history of items on the app to see how yours will fare. Right now, there’s logo mania. “People want the Fendi Zucca print, which is their F’s all over,” Liz explains. “They want Louis Vuitton.” Meanwhile, streetwear and sneakers are such a growing market that The RealReal has hired a specialist to keep up.
Off-White gear released before Virgil Abloh’s ascension to Louis Vuitton is superhot, and right after an Adidas Yeezy launch the value of the shoes will skyrocket above the original retail price before dying down a week later, when all the sneakerheads have already nabbed their pairs.
Accepted items are sent to a warehouse like the one in nearby Brisbane. Wainwright seems to know everyone she passes, greeting them by name and wrinkling her nose at outsiders- she describes her employee base as “a lot of female, a lot of trans, a lot of creative dressers.”
She heads into the cage- yes, a literal cage- where fine jewelry is kept and officially authenticated with an X-ray machine that breaks down everything from the makeup of the metals in rings to the type of fibers in a fabric, detecting knockoffs like faux-Chanel tweeted. A forthcoming device will be able to identify which part of the world materials come from.
That sourcing machine will allow customers to know more than whether items sold on The RealReal are more than just, well, real. Wainwright, who considers herself “almost vegan,” struggles with issues like whether to sell items like fur and diamonds that were’t mined ethically. “This is an ongoing debate”, she says. “And I would say I’m on the far end of ‘I don’t think we should take anything like that’. However, there’s a logical point of view which won out, that if you are selling previously owned, you might stop the “sell new’ a little bit.”
Wainwright eats her tuna sandwich- she’s decided to land on the “almost” side of veganism today- and happily scrolls through the app in search of a green dress. “Look at these editor’s picks,” she says, pointing to items marked by the team as good finds. “I’m ‘obsessing’ it” she says of the process that stores favorites, like the chiffon number she’s looking at, to be purchased- or watched for discounts that kick in after a month without selling. “You tap the little heart, it’ll show up in your ‘obsessions’ section.”
A lime-green dress becomes Wainwright’s next obsession. “Ooh, isn’t that pretty? That’s very Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. I love it.”