The RealReal launches for consigned designer styles

Faith Merino · June 27, 2011 · Short URL:

The site is the first designer consignment flash sale site

A new flash sale site for high-end designer fashion launched Monday, and so far I’ve learned two things: 1) I still can’t afford to shop at the clearance rack for designer clothes, and 2) they now make manikins with nipples.

The RealReal launched on Monday as the self-proclaimed “first designer resale flash sale site,” featuring such well-known designer brands as Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Christian Dior, Celine, and more. The items are offered to consumers in a brief 72-hour window, during which they can get high-end designer styles for up to 90% off the original price.

Unlike other flash sale sites, like Gilt Groupe, ideeli, and Rue La La, the items listed on The RealReal website are shown with their marked down prices, but not their original prices, so shoppers don’t get a real idea for how much they’re saving (unless they’re fastidious designer followers). That’s because unlike other flash sale sites, all of the items on The RealReal are consigned (meaning used), which means the items can be sold for a super steep discount, but also presents the company with the unique challenge of making sure that the styles are authentic. For that, Creative Director and co-founder Marcy Carmack, a Bay Area stylist, will use her New York City training and expertise to identify quality and authenticity. All of the items on the site are stylist-curated and vetted for authenticity, so shoppers can rest assured knowing they're getting the real deal.

To consign their own designer clothes, shoppers can contact The RealReal, which will arrange for a UPS pick-up of the items. Or sellers can fill out a consignment form and mail their items to The RealReal, and if the items are on the list of designers that The RealReal is accepting, then the company will notify the seller when the item will be listed. Once the item sells, the seller will be notified and issued a payment, which includes a credit for the amount paid in postage to ship the item. If the item is not on the designer list (or it isn’t authentic), it will be shipped back to the seller at her expense.

The RealReal’s white-glove pick-up service is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area at the moment, but the company plans to expand the service to other cities in the future.

While it’s hard to gauge exactly how much you may be saving by purchasing an item on The RealReal, a quick glance around at designers’ online stores reveals pretty stark price contrasts. For example, dresses on Dolce and Gabbana’s website range from $400 to over $3,000 (for items that are not on sale), while Dolce and Gabbana dresses on The RealReal currently range from $195 to $695.

Co-founder and CEO Julie Wainwright tells me that while the site currently offers only women’s fashions, it will be adding men’s and children’s styles in the fall.

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