In 2011, Julie Wainwright, an e‑commerce entrepreneur, founded TheRealReal, a platform for selling previously owned luxury goods. Selling used clothing wasn’t a new idea; vintage and used-clothing stores have been around forever, and some have even gotten big. Buffalo Exchange, which is based in Tucson, began selling used jeans and flannel shirts in 1974, and now has fifty locations across the country; Crossroads Trading, which opened in 1991, has thirty-seven. A few renowned shops, such as Decades, in Los Angeles, have specialized in very expensive used designer goods in an atmosphere in which much is made of a gown’s provenance, especially if, as is often the case, the previous owner was a celebrity. But, generally speaking, resale businesses were little local shops that catered to aficionados, hipsters, and people on a budget. Wainwright decided to go global and high-end.
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