Online Fashion Consignment Spot The RealReal Named to CNBC’s List of the Top 2018 Disruptors

June 5, 2018 - By 

Fashion-forward thinkers rejoice—online consignment source The RealReal isn’t going anywhere. The company, which has quickly become one of the internet’s favorite sources for secondhand luxury clothing, shoes and accessories, was recently named to CNBC’s 2018 Top Disruptors list.

The Disruptors list is a coveted annual report of companies offering unique and innovative strategies to set themselves apart from the current market and “disrupt” the current model in which consumers eat, drink, shop, or live. This year, The RealReal took the 17th place on the list, lauded for being one of the most successful secondhand fashion retailers to make the transition from street shopping to the realm of online commerce.

For those who have little interest in fashion, The Real Real’s success may seem to be a mystery—in 2018, the concept of shopping for fashion online is hardly a novel one. However, what sets the San Francisco-based retailer apart is their commitment to their niche market; fashion-forward thinking men and women who know how to recognize their favorite brands…and who have avoided alternative online resources for fear of wasting their money on fraudulent or replica goods.

The RealReal has maintained its disruptor status by positioning authenticity as the site’s key marketing point—The RealReal postulates that it’s business model is similar to that of eBay or Tradesy without the consumer risk of shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on a counterfeit purchase. The RealReal’s fixation on validation of the authenticity of the clothing, shoes, and handbags listed on their site boarders on obsessive—and couture connoisseurs have shown that they can’t get enough. The site employs a team of in-house brand experts who validate the authenticity of every item posted on the site, ensuring that consumers won’t have to consider whether they need to send an item back under false pretenses. The penalties for trying to sell a fake are severe; per The RealReal’s consigner terms, counterfeit goods will not be returned to the sender should they be determined to be inauthentic.

In an interview with Vogue, RealReal chief merchant Rati Levesque confirmed that the online concept was taking a turn towards the traditional, solidifying its Soho popup shop as a permanent Manhattan feature. The shift from the realm of the internet to the streets came when consumers expressed a desire to have remaining qualms about the authenticity of The RealReal’s good quashed by speaking to designer experts and holding the items in their hands before making the decision to invest.

“Our customers wanted to speak with our luxury experts in person and see all of the product firsthand,” Levesque told Vogue. “Now, if they’re thinking about a handbag, a piece of jewelry, or any item online, they can have it shipped to our SoHo location and meet with an expert there in our store to look at the piece and learn more about it.”

It may seem extreme, but designer enthusiasts are serious about their authenticity concerns—especially when considered in the light of recent data flooding new circuits connecting the sale of counterfeit designer handbags with the funding of terrorist and human trafficking organizations. Counterfeit goods have long been a scourge on the fashion world, growing into a $500 billion global trade and costing the city of NYC (largely considered to be both the central hub of the fashion world and the world of underground goods) an estimated $1 billion in lost sales tax revenue every year.

Contrary to the image of the snooty fashionista turning her nose up at last season’s resort wear, The RealReal reports that the stigma surrounding secondhand clothing has not caused their brand to suffer—in fact, CEO and co-founder of The RealReal’s sister brand ThreadUp James Reinhart told Vogue that the secondhand market is actually projected to grow at rates unprecedented by the fashion industry as a whole.

“In 2017, we found that apparel resale is currently an $18 billion industry, expected to grow to $33 billion in the next four years. And resale is growing faster than [traditional] retail.”

The future of The RealReal will come in the form of more traditional market testing. After opening a popup in San Francisco and later Las Vegas, the company plans to continue encroaching on offsite luxury goods market in more and more cites. Considering that the company needs to build a reliable fashion infrastructure in order to maintain the flow of goods, consumers can expect that more and more of these popups will solidify into permanent locations if there proves to be a sufficient luxury goods market.

Luxury goods consumers who are interested in shopping on The RealReal or who would like to learn more about consigning through the site are encouraged to pay them a visit online at

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