The RealReal is a company that makes luxury items available to people who might not ordinarily buy them. The company gives individuals a chance to resell luxury clothes, household items and various accessories at discounted prices and then gives a portion of the profits to the original owner. So far, the company has resold roughly eight million luxury items through its website and stores and has around nine million members total. The result is that high-end brands like Louis Vuitton are available at a fraction of the price they would normally sell for, and luxury shopping no longer requires an enormous surplus of disposable income.
One of the company’s founders is Rati Levesque; she is currently their chief merchant based in San Francisco. An economist, Levesque owned a high-end boutique before the RealReal got of the ground in 2011. She said that shopping through her company is an experience that can give ordinary people a real taste of luxury and uses the example of someone who has always admired the Chanel brand from afar being able to actually own a purse from the famed design house.
She also noted that buying luxury items isn’t necessarily a frivolous pursuit and can be seen as an investment. Furthermore, she pointed out that many RealReal clients use their commission money from reselling their Louis Vuitton and other brands of luxury goods to shop or invest in the mainstream economy, which is good for the entire country.
A data-driven company
The RealReal is a data-driven company. They do extensive research on the luxury market and then make that information available to their clients. A seller can see when it’s a good time to put a Louis Vuitton item on the market, for instance, and a buyer can see when it’s a good time to purchase one. Essentially, it’s all about supply and demand. Facts and figures are available online in real time, and everyone benefits.
Furthermore, company employees are always ready to give advice in terms of economic as well as fashion value. For example, if a client is considering buying a pair of Manalo Blahnik slingback shoes, the company adviser can give advice not only on what to wear them with but also on how well the brand has sold in the past and is likely to in the future.
The fashion cycle
Levesque talked about the fashion cycle and how her company has it quantified. Essentially, a brand becomes hot, then something will happen such as a key designer leaving, and it will decrease temporarily in value only to become hot again in time as a collectible or vintage look.
She also explained that high-end watches have been doing extremely well on the market over the past two years. Each generation has a particular brand that they prefer, and names such as Rolex are very hot at the moment. She added that social media makes it possible for everyone in the world to be on the same page fashion-wise, but this just creates a desire in many consumers to be different.
While the company is primarily an online brand, it also runs pop-up stores and traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. In all cases, the company uses analytics and fashion-savvy to match consumers and sellers so that all parties win.