Many of us love luxury brands such as Hermes, Coach, Chanel, and more. Many of us also do not like the price tags brand new luxury brands carry. Some of us have found great deals online. The issue is that we have also found out we paid luxury prices for knock-offs. Fortunately, Julie Wainwright founded The RealReal in 2011. The RealReal began as an online consignment for luxury women’s clothing but has since branched out into men’s clothing, jewelry, and more. They have started brick and mortar stores since then, with one recently opening in New York’s SoHo.
What sets The RealReal apart is its authentication services. They ensure every item sent to them is authentic before listing it on their website or putting it into their stores. There was a recent meeting at the new Wooster Street store that taught a small group how to authenticate a handbag. Clair DeBoer, a valuation manager for handbags at The RealReal, used several Hermes Birkin handbags as a lesson in authenticity. She showed the group members were given gloves, and then handed the handbags, which, if authentic, were worth over ten thousand dollars.
Group members were directed to look at the stitching on the handbags, smell the leather, check the front key for smoothness of use, and even check the zipper. Each of these factors can be an indication of the authenticity of the handbags. The group determined there were two knock-off bags. DeBoer commented that sometimes there are a lot of fakes sent in, likely because someone was gifted the handbag and was not aware it was a knock-off.
Julie Wainwright had the idea to start a luxury consignment after a shopping trip she was on where a friend of hers bought several luxury items on consignment. When Wainwright asked her friend about buying on consignment, the friend said that she got a good price, so did not care what the items were consignment. It was then Wainwright realized there was a gap in the market for an online luxury consignment shop. Thus, The RealReal was born.