RealReal- Their Idea of Luxury Found in Secondhand Items


On a recent weeknight in the town of SoHo, a group of women and men sat down to talk about the store on Wooster Street called The RealReal. RealReal is a new store concept where luxury meets secondhand pieces. During this meeting, an associate of the store offered the visitors cake and champagne. When all were done with their eating and drinking, the attendant offered to let them all hold a real Birkin. For many in attendance, it was the first time they had every been close to or held a purse that was worth a small fortune of more than $10,000 before. Some of the attendees were so excited they took a selfie with the bag.

The main idea behind the name RealReal is that it means authenticity is extremely important. The company is a luxury consignment store that sells things online with brands ranging from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and so many more. They just decided to open up their new location in SoHo for shoppers in the area that prefer to come into a physical location to shop for luxury items.

RealReal was founded back in 2011 by Julie Wainwright. She was the previous C.E.O. of a company called It was a pet supply company for the website However, her newest business venture has a team of art curators, gemologists, brand authenticators, horologists and other professionals who work to guarantee authenticity for all items that she sells on her website and in her new store. She calls her team “The RealReal Experts” and they are important for the success of her business. No one will want to pay thousands of dollars for any brand merchandise unless they know for sure that it is the real thing.

Where the Idea Came From

Julie’s idea for the luxury consignment shop came back when she went on a shopping trip in the city of Atherton. This is a wealthy area located in the Silicon Valley. While on the trip back in 2010, her friend had visited a consignment shop with her and ended up buying a variety of brand items. While she was surprised that her friend bought items in a consignment shop, her friend told her that she was happy to get so many great pieces at great prices. Later that night, Julie ended up going home to research more on the topic of consignment shops.

She began her new idea by selling her own items at consignment shops, pawn shops and on Ebay. By the end of this spree, she knew she was on to something big. By the end of 2011, she already registered her company name and was looking into warehouses to rent. Flash forward seven years and she has over 1,500 employees working for her.

Since she founded The RealReal, her website has attracted more than nine million in memberships. Wainwright has said that more than half of those members who are to sell on her site have never even consigned before then. She also said that at least half of those that buy through the site have never bought clothing or items from secondhand consignment shops previously.

The Company Brings in Millions In New Funding

Last year, the company really started to take off and found itself getting funding for expansion from a private equity firm, the Great Hill Partners. With the addition of funds from the private firm, the company has a total of almost $175 million in funding. However, this figure doesn’t include the money Wainwright’s company received from previous funding backers. The extra funding came at a great time in the company’s expansion and grew the 800 workers to more than 1,500.