Is RealReal launching a fashion brand?
WWD has learned that the consignment website – best known for selling other companies’ fashions – is in the process of hiring a senior in-house designer, with the apparent goal of launching a “private label.”
Judging from a job posting on The RealReal’s own site, the designer position, which will be based in New York or San Francisco, will set “the general direction of the conceptual and final development of the product lines within of the TRR (private label) ”. describes the list.
The company says it is “looking for a seasoned designer with end-to-end experience throughout the design process, from market research to sketching, specs and fit. The lead designer will help launch a series of strategic initiatives around sustainable product development and upcycling. Thorough knowledge of product development, construction and finishing techniques is essential. This role requires solid experience in designing products for well-known luxury brands, ”the list says.
A representative from The RealReal, however, wrote off the position as more of a special project-based position. “We are always looking for opportunities to increase our impact when it comes to creating a more circular future for fashion. Adding design talent to our team will help us explore potential sustainable creation pathways that keep existing products and materials from moving out of landfills and into circulation, including the expansion of our new ReCollection recycling program, ”said writes the spokesperson to WWD in an email.
RealReal declined further comment on the nature of an internal design project. In recent years, the company has used emerging brands to publish capsule collections on its site using recycled or sustainably sourced materials. But in these cases, it is understood that the brands controlled the designs for each release, with The RealReal acting as the sales enabler.
In March, The RealReal dropped the first edition of its ReCollection project, in which unsold items from brands like Balenciaga, Simone Rocha, and Jacquemus are recycled by a Los Angeles-based creative repair studio.
At the time, James Rogers, director of sustainability at The RealReal, told WWD: “This is just the start. What we think it will look like in the future, we plan to build a library for other designers, so any leftovers or leftovers from that initial collection will be kept and turned into part of this library. As we make more and more ReCollections they can be used and kept out of landfill – so really [we’re] think about creating a repository specifically focused on upscaling initiatives. “
The collection, however, were all unique models. Much of it remains unsold on The RealReal’s site, where it has been posted since April 1.
The opening up of the design role of the company seems linked to a more permanent initiative. It requires a minimum of 10 years of experience in a “reputable luxury brand” and in-depth knowledge of development, fit, pattern creation and delivery times.
The person would also oversee “the selection of fabrics and trim from inventory owned by RealReal and authorized sustainable partners and brands.” For its ReCollection program, The RealReal requires that recycled parts contain no virgin fabrications, that they be zero waste, and that the labor behind them must be fair wage and sourced from the United States.
There is also the issue of the excess fabric produced by the fashion industry each season. Traditionally, custom textile bolts from brands like Marc Jacobs could be found for sale at New York City Garment District fabric stores. But maybe RealReal could take that fabric and recycle it in cut-and-sewn forms.
This style has long been popular with Urban Outfitters, which offers its “Urban Renewal” line of clothing made from recycled second-hand clothing and fabrics that have been dead for much of the past decade.
In August, The RealReal’s chief financial officer, Matt Gustke, said the pandemic had been a “catalyst” for the company’s direct relationship with brands, reporting a 46% increase in articles logged by brands during COVID-19 as they sought to make money. sources they could. In November 2019, Allison Sommer, director of strategic initiatives for the company, said brands were quickly starting to work with resale partners like The RealReal.
RealReal has become increasingly selective with what parts it accepts as a shipper – demanding nearly new condition of all the inventory it accepts. Many of the company’s online consignment competitors facilitate a consumer-to-consumer model of commerce – meaning sites like Poshmark, Tradesy, Vestiaire Collective and Thredup don’t hold inventory and sellers ship directly to buyers.
RealReal owns inventory and photographs, authenticates and ships products in-house, requiring much higher overhead costs that at times have rocked investors. The company has yet to make a profit – with observers saying the cost of running The RealReal, which now includes a large retail footprint, is hampering its overall success.
Analysts have largely declined to comment on the prospect of a fashion line from The RealReal. The company’s stock was trading at around $ 23 a share on Friday – about double the price per share at the same time last year when The RealReal was significantly beaten by the pandemic as buyers limited their purchases. fashion items.