The RealReal, consignment, resale, luxury

In its latest resale report, The RealReal catalogs a pandemic-saddled resale consumer, whose appetite for luxury apparently isn’t waning.

“In a bright spot during these difficult times, engagement in the circular economy is high, specifically among brands and consigners,” said Rati Levesque, chief operating officer at The RealReal, in the report.

Among the highlights is Louis Vuitton landing for the first time as the number-one brand in terms of demand, an uptick in investment pieces and enduring trends like comfort and loungewear.

Trailing Louis Vuitton in popularity were the usual: Gucci, Chanel and Prada, among others.

Collina Strada, Bode, and Marine Serre are a few of the sustainably minded brands showing increased demand, while Black-owned brands like Telfar, Victor Glemaud, Pyer Moss, A-Cold-Wall, Wales Bonner and Martine Rose also saw record demand year-over-year.

Pricing for all items on The RealReal is based on its pricing algorithm, factoring in designer, item type, age and condition and extensive internal data from more than 14 million items sold to date.

Over the past five years, sales of streetwear pieces by traditional luxury brands grew 991 percent.

In the age of the coronavirus, with face coverings recommended by health officials and mandatory for many retailers, demand for silk scarves spiked 30 percent on The RealReal.

Off-season comfort items such as loungewear, sweatshirts and throw blankets dominated last spring, with home decor also seeing marked increases. In another definitive moment of the times, engagement ring sales went up 45 percent, according to the report.

TikTok infiltrated with trends like tie-dye, crop tops and women’s Air Force 1’s, while men’s Jordans also saw increased demand.

With the consignment business marking a unique share of problems at the start of the pandemic, The RealReal has since seen a 27-percent increase in new consigners overall. In March, the company pivoted to virtual consignment appointments as the consignment channel represents its largest single source of supply.

Since the pandemic has crippled supply chains and dented demand for discretionary goods, brands have been on the lookout for how to rid themselves of excess inventory in a way deemed wholly appropriate to the consumer — which could mean consignment.

The pandemic has been a “catalyst,” according to Matt Gustke, chief financial officer of The RealReal, for such new vendor relationships, with a 46 percent increase in items consigned by brands during COVID-19.

In the past two months, Mara Hoffman, Phillip Lim and Nanushka have unveiled vendor partnerships with The RealReal, while others turn to private consignment. In the comparable second quarter, gross merchandise volume for vendors increased 19 percent year-over-year.

To that, Gustke affirmed: “We’re going to continue with our pre-existing strategy that we’re only going to bring in product that we know we can sell. High-value, high-demand, coveted products.”

In a letter to stockholders, Gustke outlined the strategies the company will take to rebound from earlier disruptions to efficiency. The combination — which includes virtual consignment, curbside pickup options and the growth of its business-to-business channel — “would set us on a solid trajectory to resume strong growth in 2021 and beyond.”

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