View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
22 April 2022

Revolve: The festival where only the TikTok elite are invited

Revolve Festival hit headlines after influencers were left sweltering in the sun. But what exactly is it?

By Katharine Swindells

The e-commerce fashion retailer Revolve was forced to make a public apology on Tuesday (19 April) after attendees at its annual festival, creatively titled “Revolve Festival”, were left stranded in the Californian sun waiting for festival shuttles, without food or water.

Guests have compared the event to Fyre Festival, the 2017 “luxury” music festival that resulted in thousands of people eating limp cheese sandwiches in disaster relief tents in the Bahamas, and earned its founder a prison sentence, a $26m fine, and the attention of multiple documentary makers. But the comparison is meritless – because unlike Fyre, the purpose of Revolve Festival isn’t to sell tickets. In fact, no one pays to be there at all.

The event has been run by the fashion brand since 2015 as an invite-only party held on the first weekend of Coachella Festival. Its guest list is almost entirely composed of influencers – TikTok stars, fashion bloggers and former reality TV contestants.

The invitees get a free night at a hotel, food, alcohol (provided by Revolve-partner Kendall Jenner’s tequila brand, 818), and most importantly, clothes. In return, they wear all Revolve, all weekend, and post content from the event. The idea is that attendees’ followers then buy the clothing featured.

The strategy appears to work. For the average fashion e-retailer, the Christmas season is the most profitable: from March to August 2019, Asos’s group revenue averaged over £236.5m per month, but from September 2019 to Feb 2020, despite festive discounts, monthly revenues averaged £266m. For Revolve, the opposite is true: its most profitable season is April to June, due to the marketing juggernaut that is its festival.

During the second quarter of 2018, Revolve's quarterly net sales almost doubled from the first quarter, while its gross profit increased 130 per cent compared with the previous three months. During the same period in 2019, Revolve's quarterly gross profits again surpassed $90m.

Its fortunes took a dive at the start of the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, with the world in lockdown and Coachella (and thus Revolve Festival) cancelled, the brand’s profits barely inched past its first-quarter levels. During the following couple of years, unable to rely on glamorous events, it shifted its focus to TikTok, partnering with the influencers created by the explosion in the app's popularity. It was a success: in 2021, Revolve’s annual orders number 6.6 million, 40 per cent higher than in 2019, while gross profit hit $490m, 50 per cent higher than 2019.

Its association with the likes of Jenner have also helped to cement its reputation as a premium brand: the average value of a single Revolve order in 2021 was $271, whereas the average Asos sale amounts to £39.75. But that doesn't necessarily lead to higher quality: Revolve scores 2 per cent on the 2021 Fashion Transparency Index, lower than Asos, Boohoo and Primark, while Good On You rates it “very poor” for environmental and labour impact due to “extreme risk of labour abuse”.

The question is whether the headlines surrounding this year’s Revolve Festival will damage the brand, or whether the criticisms will simply be lost in a sea of perfectly curated content.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health
How can we deliver better rail journeys for customers?

Topics in this article : ,
Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU