Karen Katz, Emma Grede Join The RealReal’s Board

The RealReal, the world’s largest online marketplace for authenticated, consigned luxury goods, has named Karen Katz, former chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Group, and Emma Grede, cofounder and CEO of Good American and founding partner of Skims, to its board.

The RealReal’s 10-person board is now 60 percent female.

“Among the 3,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies, one in 10 boards will have no women,” said Julie Wainwright, CEO of The RealReal. “Diversity in the boardroom brings a broader cross-section of experiences and perspectives, which is essential for innovation and evolution. We have been intentional in our efforts to expand diversity within our board, and we believe this further strengthens our ability to capitalize on the significant opportunity ahead of us.”

Further, Wainwright said, “Karen and Emma bring an incredible depth of retail and fashion industry experience to the table, and their insights into shifting consumer behaviors and the evolving retail landscape are valuable additions to our board.”

Katz, who has more than 30 years of luxury and retail experience, headed the Neiman Marcus Group and served as its director. She stepped down in 2018. Among her accomplishments were leveraging Neiman Marcus’ brick-and-mortar presence (over 40 Neiman Marcus stores, Bergdorf Goodman and Last Call Off-Price division) to launch its omnichannel strategy, integrating customers’ online and in-store experiences through technology and personalization.

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She also led the 2014 acquisition of luxury e-commerce retailer Mytheresa, which went public last month, scaling its e-commerce offerings to support Neiman Marcus’ omnichannel strategy. In 2015, Katz struck a partnership with TheRealReal. As part of the deal, shoppers who consigned clothes through TheRealReal could receive payments for their transactions in the form of Neiman Marcus gift cards, and receive an extra 10 percent if they chose that option. It was designed to encourage customers to reinvest proceeds they got from selling their own luxury items into new luxury items from Neiman Marcus.

Known for her people and business skills, Katz also serves on the board at Under Armour, Casper and Humana, and chairs StreetTrend.

“As someone who has spent decades in luxury retail, I’m incredibly excited about and inspired by the industry’s more recent evolution toward circularity,” Katz told WWD. “Consumers and brands alike are embracing the sustainability benefits of resale. The RealReal has not only been a catalyst for it all, but a continued leader in truly shaping the future of luxury retail and resale as we know it. I’m excited to lend my experience and be a part of this force that is Julie and her team.”

Grede is expected to bring her broad retail and brand marketing experience to The RealReal. She founded both Good American, a fully size-inclusive fashion brand, which reached $1 million in sales on its first day of release, and ITB Worldwide, a talent management and marketing firm whose brands include Vivienne Westwood and Christian Dior.

As a Black female leader and innovator in inclusive fashion, Grede champions diverse and inclusive representation at all levels of internal and external business operations, having built companies upon those values. A strong advocate of women’s rights, she is an active trustee and board member of Women for Women International and Baby2Baby.

Emma Grede courtesy shot.

“The RealReal has been a true force and innovator in resale for the fashion industry, and I’m proud to see Julie champion diversity and female empowerment across the team and the broader industry,” said Grede. “Diversity and inclusivity have always been of utmost importance to me and my work and I’m thrilled to be joining The RealReal’s board to continue driving change in its next growth phase.”

Katz and Grede will be joining chairperson Wainwright, who founded The RealReal in 2011, and seven existing members on the board.

The RealReal operates eight stores around the country, including stores in Brooklyn, SoHo and Madison Avenue in New York; San Francisco; Palo Alto; Los Angeles; Newport Beach, Calif., and Chicago. At 12,000 square feet, the two-level Chicago flagship at 940 North Michigan Avenue is its largest. In addition, there are 10 consignment offices where customers can bring their products, pick up orders and get appraisals.

Palo Alto, Newport Beach and Brooklyn are smaller-format stores. The company plans to open as many as 10 of these stores over the coming quarters in communities where they have either a high density of existing consignors, or other areas where there might be growth.

As reported, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the company had revenues of $78 million, down from $81.5 million the same time last year, resulting in a loss of $43.3 million. At the time, Wainwright pointed to improving trends in New York City and Los Angeles and momentum in virtual appointments. The company will release its fourth quarter figures on Monday at 4:05 p.m.

In October, the RealReal partnered with Gucci through the end of the year to launch an online shop featuring Gucci items, promoting circularity or luxury fashion.

In releasing its resale report last August, Rati Levesque, chief operating officer of The RealReal, said in the report, “In a bright spot during these difficult times, engagement in the circular economy is high, specifically among brands and consigners.” Among the highlights were Louis Vuitton, landing as the number-one brand in terms of demand, followed by Gucci, Chanel and Prada, among others.



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