The RealReal's President And COO Rati Sahi Levesque Says To Recirculate 1 In 5 Items

Plus, a look inside the launch of their celebrity closet launch and the most in-demand items to shop on The RealReal now.

By Megan O'Sullivan

Photos by Brendon Cook and Zev Starr-Tambor


It's no secret that secondhand shopping is the way to built a covetable wardrobe. Over the last decade, hunting for archival runway pieces and finding preloved staples has grown significantly as an in-fashion sport. The rise in popularity is likely due to a perfect storm of contributing factors: influential industry voices share their vintage finds and obsessions online, luxury items are more accessible in secondhand markets, and, of course, shopping with environmental impact in mind is just... cool. But for many, shopping vintage was already cool long ago.

The RealReal's President and COO, Rati Sahi Levesque, joined the company in 2011. Before that, she was the owner her secondhand shop, Anica Boutique. "My mom taught me so much about the value of secondhand shopping," she says. It makes sense that she would then spend the next chapter of her career transforming the resale industry. For Rati, her work to raise awareness around the impact of shopping secondhand is personal.

Earlier this week, The RealReal celebrated their Consign Commitment for National Consignment Month, a holiday coined by the company. What's the call to action, exactly? Recirculating 1 in just 5 items in each person's wardrobe would help put fashion to achieve the 1.5-degree pathway laid out by the Paris Climate Accord, so The RealReal is asking customers to do just that. Additionally, they celebrated the launch of a celebrity closet sale. Kate Moss, Julianne Moore, Tessa Thompson, and Ivy Getty are just a few of the starlets who offered up their preloved treasures, encouraging others to do the same.

Below, Rati shares insight on what impact shopping secondhand has on the environment, what she's eyeing from the celebrity closet sale, and what to shop now according to what's hot on The RealReal. More below.

The Real Real has been a leader in the movement to popularize secondhand shopping for over a decade. Shopping vintage has become more desirable than shopping new. How does The Real Real continue to breathe “newness” into the secondhand industry? What are you looking forward to most right now?

Rati Sahi Levesque: Initiatives like this closet sale certainly excite our customer, as do the many partnerships we’ve done with brands like Stella McCartney, Gucci, Burberry, Jimmy Choo and more.

How we curate items on the site also sets us apart. Following our rigorous authentication process of every item we receive, photographing those items and uploading them to the site, our team of experts curates pieces into daily sales, to help to communicate their integrity, beauty and, of course, luxe. We also have an Editors’ Picks filter which can help to surface both under-the-radar finds and the most coveted styles in our inventory.

A seamless consignor experience is also incredibly important and a differentiator for us – we’re making sure consignors get the best return, we’re transparent about the process and pricing and we’re making it easy with in-home pickups, physical locations for drop-offs and the option to send items to us.

The Real Real is known for being home to some of the most in-demand garments and accessories. But a lot of people don’t know about the strides The Real Real has made in terms of environmental impact. If you could share just 3 facts on this for people to know about, what would they be?

RSL: Since our 2011 founding, selling on The RealReal has saved 3.9B+ liters of water, which is equivalent to 16.5 billion 8 oz glasses of water. Since our founding, selling on The RealReal has saved 73,207 metric tons of carbon, the amount that 12.2 million trees absorb in a year. 40% of our customers say they shop The RealReal as a replacement for fast fashion.

When did The Real Real first launch this holiday (National Consignment Month) and what does it represent? Is it meant to activate and/or change the consumer mindset?

RSL: We founded National Consignment Day in 2017 with the goal of bringing more awareness to fashion’s negative impact on the planet and resale as a solution. The day is a celebration of consignment as a smart, sustainable way to shop that helps earn you money and extend the lifecycle of luxury items.

“Since our founding, selling on The RealReal has saved 73,207 metric tons of carbon, the amount that 12.2 million trees absorb in a year. 40% of our customers say they shop The RealReal as a replacement for fast fashion.”

What is the Consign Commitment? What is important for customers to know about it?

RSL: The Consign Commitment asks consumers to consign 1 out of every 5 items in their closets. Recirculating just 1 in 5 items would help put fashion on track to achieve the 1.5-degree pathway laid out by the Paris Climate Accord (McKinsey Fashion on Climate report, pg 14), so The RealReal is calling on consumers to do just that to help build a more sustainable future. The objective is to encourage consumers to reflect on their wardrobe choices and to ignite a passion for investing in high-quality items that not only endure but appreciate in value over time.

Why is it important to integrate “it girl” or celebrity closets into The Real Real’s inventory?

RSL: We have so many celebrities and fashion tastemakers regularly consigning with us privately, it’s exciting when we can put a name to an item! Our members are either sustainably-minded, value-driven or fashion-lovers, and more often than not, they’re all three. We knew they’d be excited to shop pieces from icons like Kate Moss, Julianne Moore and Tessa Thompson because who wouldn’t be?

“Recirculating just 1 in 5 items would help put fashion on track to achieve the 1.5-degree pathway laid out by the Paris Climate Accord.”

If you could name an item that is your favorite across these new celebrity closet sales, what would it be?

RSL: There are so many! I am definitely contemplating this Celine blazer from Julianne Moore’s closet…I know I can’t think too long though because it will certainly be snatched up soon, if it hasn’t been already.

Speaking of it-girls… according to The Real Real’s insights, what are the it-girl items to shop right now?

RSL: Timeless styles like the Hermes Kelly, Chanel Flap, Cartier love bracelet and Van Cleef Alhambra are consistently popular, but right now we’re also seeing serious demand for one-of-a-kind vintage styles that highlight personal style, as wells as the original versions of recent reissues like the Gucci Horsebit clutch. Similarly for jewelry, unbranded pieces that nobody else will have are also having a moment.

What should people know about how important it is to give your clothes 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lives? Why is it important that we recirculate

RSL: Giving your clothes a 2nd, 3rd and or 4th life greatly reduces fashion’s impact on the environment. We’re at a critical juncture with climate change and still one garbage trucks’ worth of textiles are landfilled or burned every second (Ellen MacArthur Foundation); Americans alone send 10.5M tons of clothing to landfill every year (United Nations Climate Change).

Shop The Real Real's Inner Circle Edit, which features select items from the closets of Kate Moss, Beverly Nguyen, Tessa Thompson, Michelle Li, Chloe King, and more. As part of the closet sale, The Real Real will make a $25k donation to Conversation International to help protect our planet.

Take a peek inside The Real Real's event celebrating the debut of the Consign Commitment for National Consignment Month and the launch of their it-girl closet sale below.

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