Luxe Consignment Brand The RealReal Opens L.A. Storefront Complete With Whiskey Bar
“Think of it as a resale department store with a full lifestyle assortment,” says chief merchant Rati Levesque of the 12,000-square-foot WeHo shop that sells fashion for the whole family, furnishings, art and beauty products.
Luxury resale is big business, projected to hit the $6 billion mark globally this year. Leading the pack is San Francisco-based company The RealReal (founded in 2011 by Julie Wainwright) that announced another $115 million round of private equity capital last week for a total of $288 million raised to date. Today, the company officially opens the doors of its first retail store in Los Angeles.
Beyond designer apparel and accessories for women, men and kids, all the furniture, pottery and art decorating The RealReal’s new 12,000-square-foot West Hollywood location is for sale. (In the mix is a $55,000 signed and dated Jean-Michel Basquiat screenprint.) There’s also a curated selection of notably unconsigned beauty products (mainly from natural skin-care brands such as In Fiore, Kahina and Uma Oils) as well as a new, exclusive-to-L.A. line of sustainable The RealReal T-shirts, caps, yoga mats and water bottles. To prevent shoppers from losing steam, an on-site cafe serves coffee by San Francisco brand Sightglass along with grab-and-go pastries and sandwiches. Those looking to kick back can frequent an in-house whiskey bar adjacent to the watch department.
“Think of it as a resale department store with a full lifestyle assortment,” says Rati Levesque, chief merchant for The RealReal, of the space, which is double the size of a New York boutique that debuted last November after a string of pop-up shops in New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco. “We have a big base in L.A.; it’s our second biggest market. The favorite brands here are Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Ulla Johnson, Reformation and Rag & Bone. And sneakers are really popular for men.”
A 1,500-square-foot handbag vault showcases “the largest selection of Hermes handbags in L.A., including hundreds of Birkins and Kellys,” says Levesque. “There are also amazing, hard-to-find bags like limited-edition Dior saddle bags, the Gucci Marmont bags in store now, and one-of-a-kind runway pieces from Chanel, Balmain, Off-White and more.”
And the 5,500-square-foot men’s shop, with a separate entrance, has dedicated spaces for unique sneakers (Yeezy, Louis Vuitton x Supreme, limited-edition Pharrell Williams for Adidas) and watches (from Rolex to Patek Philippe models with unique complications). There are curated collections of tailored wear-to-work pieces (think Hermes briefcases, Tom Ford suiting and Thom Browne jackets), L.A. brands (424, Chrome Hearts, Fear of God and designs by Hedi Slimane), a luxury-streetwear mix (Supreme and Palm Angels with Gucci and Louis Vuitton) and a “future surf” section featuring pieces from J.W. Anderson, Comme des Garcons and Valentino.
So what makes The RealReal stand out in a sea of competitors including California-based companies ThredUp, Poshmark and Tradesy; Paris-Based Vestiaire Collective; and Canadian company LXRandCo that has four retail locations in California inside Stein Mart and DSW stores? For one, their Hollywood connection. Taking resale to the next level, The RealReal has partnered with many notable names (John Legend, the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Will and Jada Smith and family, Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, Chloe Sevigny, and Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union) to clean out their closets, often for a cause.
Another is The RealReal’s focus on appraising, authenticating and acquiring every item. “I don’t know that there is a competitor to us because we’re not a peer-to-peer marketplace; we take possession of every item and believe you have to do that in order to authenticate it,” says Levesque. “We price at a fair market value, always looking at supply and demand, and our average selling price is $200. On a self-posting site, you can say that something is worth whatever you want, but we tell you what the market will pay. And we make sure that everything is authentic, from the gemstone to the carat weight or whether it’s a real pair of Yeezy sneakers.”
Authentications and appraisals are free of charge at the company’s two stores and seven consignment offices, including one in Century City, where items can be dropped off with no obligation to consign, or the pros will come to your home for complimentary pickups by appointment. The West Hollywood store also offers curbside pickups and drop-offs.
According to Levesque, watches are the company’s fastest-growing category, so The RealReal has a trade-in program with horologists on staff in the L.A. shop for expert repairs, band resizing and assessments. There are gemologists on hand to appraise and clean fine jewelry, expert handbag appraisers, a full-time tailor and personal stylists who can be booked in advance or used on the spot. Anyone can have a handbag refurbished or a jacket altered for a charge, even if it wasn’t purchased at The RealReal, where service is paramount.
“At the end of the day, everything is about extending the life cycle of luxury goods, whether or not you bought it from us; we will help you take care of your items and when you’re ready to consign them, we hope you’ll consign with us,” says Levesque. “Having bricks-and-mortar space is really a growth accelerator by creating brand awareness and adding credibility; when customers come in to feel and touch and understand what quality means to us, it gives them a better understanding of our standards.”
The RealReal, 8500 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The RealReal Luxury Consignment office, 1901 Avenue of the Stars #300, Century City, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday and until 7 p.m. on Thursday, 844-440-7325.