The RealReal, a luxury consignment shop, has gained in popularity and notoriety, since its beginning in 2001. Julie Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer of the RealReal, founded the online shopping venture on the premise of bringing the best, authentic designer items to the public at a fraction of the original prices. The idea came to her when she and a friend were shopping in a consignment shop, and the friend bought several pieces of Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, and saved money. Wainwright generated her plan and got started with her entrepreneurial endeavor. As of 2017, she had raised over $173 million dollars in capital.
Opening brick and motar shops was the next venture for Wainwright. She recently opened in SoHo, New York. Business selling luxury products, she also offers workshops for her more than fifteen hundred employees, and investors. The most important is the authenticity workshop where specialists in authenticating products demonstrate how to determine is an item is genuinely a designer product. One workshop was the authentication of the Birkin bags. They checked the stitching for size, and if they were handmade, they check the back side of zippers, and they check the smell. They go over an item with a fine tooth comb, so to speak. The onlookers were amazed at the process.
Julie Wainwright employs brand authenticators, gemologists, curators, and horologists to ensure that the luxury items for sale are indeed luxury designer items. These are the RealReal experts who give shoppers the sense of belonging to the elite world of designer fashions. The website of the RealReal has attracted more than eight million members since it was founded in 2011. Her ventures into having walk in stores is proving just as profitable as the website. Wainwright chooses to use gallery cards, like those found in museums, for her displays because she was raised around art. She views designer art as being high art, even though it is wearable. The RealReal wants to provide a different wxperience for buyers than what is offered at the other downtown consignment shops in the New York and surrounding areas.