In May of 2018, founder and CEO of The RealReal, Julie Wainwright, gave an interview to The New Yorker. In the interview, Wainwright offers exclusive insights into the company’s origins, and behind the scenes of how her online designer consignment store works.
The RealReal was founded in 2011 by Wainwright. This was her third venture after she previously founded both Reel.com and Pets.com. Wainwright started dreaming up this new venture while on vacation in 2010. She realized that high quality, designer items were too expensive for most people, lest they be extremely wealthy. Upon returning home from her vacation, she attempted to sell her own designer clothes to places such as Ebay, consignment stores, and pawnbrokers, all without luck. She took it upon herself to create a website where designer gear could be sold and bought second hand. It allowed sellers to receive money for goods they no longer wore, while giving those who couldn’t normally afford them, the chance to buy authentic designer goods at a more affordable price.
After only seven years in business, Wainwrights dream has taken the internet by storm. The RealReal now has over eight million followers, fifteen hundred employees, and office locations in New York and San Francisco. Wainwright states that in 2011, at the planning stages of her dream, she knew she had stumbled upon something huge, but she never knew it would be quite this big.
Julie’s employees features “a team of gemologists, horologists, art curators, and brand authenticators, who can guarantee a shopper that…what is in their shopping cart is real.” Though there are the rare mistakes that her team of experts do not catch, they are assembled to ensure that whether it be a “Hermès or Chanel handbag—or the Céline blouse, or the Fernand Léger lithograph, or the Rolex Oyster Perpetual,”the shoppers are getting what they pay for in both looks and authenticity.
The RealReal has provided a new experience for online consignment shoppers who wouldn’t normally be able to buy designer fashion- “helping secondhand-luxury buyers feel as though they belong in the élite world of designer fashion.”