Fashion Shows and Trends

The Real Real Brings Sustainability to the Fashion Industry

Focused. Creative. Talented. It’s easy to see why Julie Wainwright uses these adjectives to describe the company culture of her online luxury consignment shop, The Real Real. Since 2011, Wainwright has grown The Real Real from an idea to a widely successful online business valued at over $1.5 billion. What is even more impressive than the number of items sold and dollars exchanged is the sustainable impact The Real Real has on one of the major polluting industries in the world.

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The Real Real Simplifies the Process of Consigning

With an affinity for high, high heels, The Real Real’s CEO, Julie Wainwright, transformed her passion for fashion into a luxury consignment empire with millions of members online. Inspired by her parents’ love of beauty and distaste for letting things go to waste, the eCommerce pioneer knew others probably had the same values. After all, people are always looking to make money off items they no longer use or wear. With over ten years of experience as the CEO of different web companies, Wainwright used that knowledge to make the process of consigning easier for buyers and sellers.

Process of Consigning

Wainwright got to work collecting clothing, shoes, and accessories from friends for two months before she started The Real Real. While she initially worried what would happen when the original items all sold out, a stroke of luck landed her with 900 articles of clothing and shoes when she got a call from a stylist about a client who had a warehouse filled with goods she was ready to give up. The rest is history. The Real Real sold more than $10 million worth of clothes and jewelry in their first year. It continued to see positive business growth ever since.

Much of Wainwright’s success is because The RealReal takes the leg work out of the consignment process. Consigners no longer have to gather their items, get in the car, and go to a consignment shop to sell their belongings. In fact, the company has what they call luxury managers- professional associates who come to you. Mostly, The Real Real’s army of associates does all the work for you. They go to people’s homes and collect items on a list of preselected luxury and designer brands. Your items are then brought to their central warehouse, where they are examined by authenticators to rate the condition of the items and eliminate counterfeits. They are evaluated, priced, photographed, and posted to

When the item is sells, the consigner gets a check for between 40-85% of the sale price. To date, The Real Real has sold more than 8 million items, shipping over 20,000 luxury items a month. The company has expanded to brick-and-mortar locations and even has a mobile app called Consign. 55% of their shoppers complete transactions from the convenience of their mobile device. With over 620,000 items listed on their site from 5,500 designers, this simplified way of consigning is a hit.

A New Take on the Idea of Consigning

Idea of Consigning

Vintage and used clothing stores have been around forever, but they aren’t always popular. While there was once a stigma that prevented consumers from buying from consignment shops, online luxury consignment is now one of the fastest-growing businesses on the market. For some, the idea of buying used items is still a hard sell. But The Real Real is changing the way consumers look at consigning, turning skeptics into enthusiastic customers one luxury item exchange at a time. That’s because The Real Real shows that even the wealthiest people in the world find value in consigning.

Realistically, online luxury consignment shops are a win-win business. The buyer gets quality products at a discounted cost, and the consigner gets money back on items they no longer use or wear. And it’s not just about buying brands or things you can’t usually afford. Consumers can find unique items they can’t get their hands on anywhere else. For the avid shopper, online consignment turns shopping into a treasure hunt. For the seller, putting items online increases the odds of them selling because they can be seen and bought from anywhere.

Not only does The Real Real give consumers the chance to own iconic brands, but they also make the shopping process more comfortable. You can take your time browsing through the website, and save time by shopping when it’s most convenient for your schedule. Plus, there’s no pressure to buy! All the benefits of online consignment shops have quickly diffused the stigma that once surrounded consignment shops. In fact, The Real Real expanded their item availability to include men’s and children’s clothing, home decor, and fine art to keep up with customer requests.

The Real Real- A Sustainable Luxury Company

What is even more exciting about the high-end, global movement created by The Real Real is the impact the business has on the environment. “The future of fashion is circular.” This statement, proudly displayed on the about us page of The Real Real’s website, is a powerful one. While consumers continue to shift to sustainable products as they worry about our environmental impact on our future generations, fashion remains one of the major polluting industries in the world. The Real Real helps consumers stay trendy while also protecting the environment.

By empowering consigners and buyers to extend the life cycle of luxury goods, The Real Real is truly a sustainable luxury company. You can even see the environmental impact of your purchase with the company’s sustainability calculator. The company teamed up with leading environmental consulting firm, Shift Advantage, and sustainable textile leaders from the World Resources Institute and Ellen MacArthur Foundation to formulate their calculator methodology. As a result, The Real Real can quantify the positive environmental impact of their company through consignment. 553 million liters of water saved and 12,200 metric tons of carbon saved to date is a badge of honor they can wear with pride today. It’s also a great way to look at consignment and motivate others to join the movement.

The Real Real has indeed found success in selling the hottest luxury clothing, shoes, and accessories online. Gucci jackets, Rolex watches, Cartier wedding bands, Louis Vuitton bags, Goyard dog collars, and Hermés shoes are conveniently available at your fingertips when you hit up their online shop. When you shop at, you won’t just find meaning to the saying “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You’ll be supporting an online sustainable luxury company business that is shifting the environmental impact of the fashion industry one exchange after another.”