As a shopper on resale platforms, I understand how important authenticity is to the buying experience. The thrill of finding a one-of-a-kind item at a fraction of the retail cost is dampened when the product turns out to be fake. Earlier this year, I purchased a Hermes bag from the Real Real (RR), a popular online marketplace for luxury preloved items. However, when the bag arrived, I was disappointed to find that it was not authentic.
I made a video sharing my experience, and to my surprise, many of you had similar experiences with the platform. The RR reached out to me to correct the issue and invited me to visit their authentication centers. I was excited for the invitation after a disappounting experience with their customer service. I jumped at the opportunity and ended up going down a rabbit hole to learn everything I could about luxury authentication.
However, the question remains: can we trust these platforms? Are their products authentic, or are we wasting our hard-earned money on knock-offs?
DISCLAIMER: This is an UNSPONSORED review. I purchased all of these products myself and am not affiliated with the brand mentioned in any way. All statements and expressions made about the products are solely the opinion of Tanner Leatherstein and are not meant to be conclusive or definitive. The purpose of this video is for informational and educational purposes only. We recommend that as a consumer, you exercise your due diligence and research on the products before adopting the opinion of Tanner Leatherstein.
What to Consider When Buying Preloved Items
The first thing I realized on this journey was how prevalent the fake luxury market really is. I had always assumed that fake goods were mainly sold on sketchy websites or in dark alleyways. However, I soon learned that these products are often sold in well-established marketplaces, including luxury consignment shops and even online marketplaces like the Real Real. This made me realize the importance of authentication in the preloved luxury market.
Firstly, let’s consider the authenticity of the products. Preloved luxury platforms like Real Real claim that their products are all authentic, and they have a strict vetting process before listing any item on their website. The platform also has a team of experts who assess each item's authenticity to ensure that they are not selling any fake products. However, there have been several instances where customers received fake products on these platforms.
Secondly, it is imperative to consider the condition of the products being sold on these platforms. Preloved luxury items are usually worn, and there is a chance that they may have minor damages or flaws. Some preloved luxury platforms take their time to assess the items' condition, while others do not. As a buyer, it is essential to study the item's description and pictures before making a purchase. If the platform allows, request additional pictures to scrutinize the item's condition further.
Thirdly, preloved luxury platforms have a return policy, but some of them can be quite restrictive. Real Real, for instance, has a strict return policy, and if an item is returned outside the timeline, the buyer may not get their money back. Some platforms do not offer refunds, and the buyer can only exchange the item for another on the website. It is critical to understand the platform's return policy before making a purchase, to avoid getting stuck with a product you do not love or that doesn’t live up to its description.
Lastly, it is important to consider the customer service provided by preloved luxury platforms. The customer service experience can make or break the buyer's experience on the platform. Real Real has been known to have poor customer service, as in the example shared in the introduction. It is crucial to check the platform's social media handles to see how they handle customer complaints and how fast they respond to questions and concerns. A good customer service experience can go a long way in restoring trust in a platform.
Visiting RealReal's Authentication Center
The authentication center was located in a nondescript office building, but the security measures taken to protect the products were impressive. A staff member escorted me through the facility, which consisted of rooms filled with carefully organized products waiting to be authenticated.
During my visit, I was impressed by the level of detail and effort put into the authentication process. The team at the RR went beyond just identifying the material and brand logo to look for unique details that could mean the difference between a real and fake item. I left the center with a new appreciation for just how difficult it can be to authenticate luxury goods.
The first step in the process is to match the product with the details provided by the seller. This involves examining the brand, model, dimensions, and any unique features of the item. If there are discrepancies, the product is immediately flagged for further inspection.
The next step is the physical examination, where specialists inspect every detail of the product, from the stitching to the hardware. They compare the materials, colors, and logos to the brand’s specifications. Any suspicious areas are highlighted, and the product is compared to reference materials to ensure its authenticity.
The authentication process takes time, but Real Real makes sure that no product goes out the door without thorough inspection. They use state-of-the-art equipment to detect counterfeit materials and employ a team of professionals with expertise in luxury goods. Additionally, they have a zero-tolerance policy for sellers who list counterfeit products, and any products found to be fake are immediately removed from the site.
As someone who loves buying preloved luxury items, I knew I had to find a way to ensure that the products I was purchasing were authentic. So, I decided to try out an AI-based authentication service called Entrupy to check some of my preloved purchases. The service allowed me to take photos of an item and send them to a team of experts who would then determine whether the product was authentic. The service gave me peace of mind knowing that I was making a wise investment.
One essential thing I learned during this journey is that authentication is not a perfect process. While the RR authentication team and the AI-based authentication service (Entrupy) I tried both provide excellent authentication services, there is still room for error. It is vital to remain vigilant when purchasing preloved luxury items to ensure that you are getting your money's worth.
My visit to the Real Real authentication center was both an eye-opening and informative experience. While I had a negative experience with the platform initially, the RR was quick to make things right, and the visit to their authentication center was a great learning experience for me. I learned that luxury authentication is a complex and essential process that requires attention to detail and expertise.
I could see firsthand the level of care and attention given to each product, ensuring that customers receive authentic luxury goods. I left with renewed confidence in the platform and a better understanding of how they maintain their customers’ trust. As resale markets continue to grow, it’s important to have platforms that prioritize authenticity and transparency, and the Real Real is leading the way.
The authenticity, the condition of the products, the return policy, and customer service provided by preloved luxury platforms are all factors that must be considered before purchasing an item. Preloved luxury platforms like Real Real can be trusted, but it is essential to do your research and have reasonable expectations.
If you have further doubts, consult with experts or purchase from reliable sellers that offer guarantees or return policies that you are comfortable with. In the end, the key to trusting preloved luxury platforms is to be a conscientious and informed shopper. My advice is to be vigilant when purchasing preloved luxury items and consider seeking out authentication services to ensure that you are making wise investments.