If you’re unfamiliar with the online fashion retailing giant Revolve, now is a good time to get to grips with it. For years, Revolve influencer marketing has been an effective, watertight blueprint for other brands and now possesses an extensive network of thousands of social media stars bigging up the brand. In anticipation of its recent IPO, the company was given a market capitalization value of nearly $1.5 billion.
Revolve’s rise to become one of the major fashion retailers in the country since its early days in 2003 is in large part due to its pioneering influencer marketing strategy, which has been in operation since the fledgling days of the industry. It has a substantial Instagram following of 3 million and hires everyone from Kendall Jenner and her 112 million followers to smaller micro-influencers in the thousands to promote their brand.
It should come as no surprise that Revolve shaped up well for its IPO. It has a history of having a finger on the pulse for tapping into the crucial Millennial and Gen Z markets, utilizing every influencer tier to drive engagement. As our very own Evan Asano says,
Revolve was a very early player in influencer marketing and is still one of the most prominent names in the space.”
At present, the social media marketing of Revolve is a business unto itself. It has poured (and continues to pour) money into the influencer marketing budget, accruing an enormous roster of 3,500 influencers who collectively drive an estimated 70% of sales for the company, despite only making up a very reasonable 25% of the annual marketing budget.
Needless to say, it’s the company that sets the trend in the influencer marketing industry.
Revolve was quick to get ahead of the game early on, using fashion bloggers for promotion in the late 2000s and early- to mid-2010s by sending them free clothes in the hopes they would talk them up. Popular bloggers like Aimee Song (Song of Style) and Shea Marie (Peace Love Shea) became regular fixtures of the strategy, using their online profiles to reach out to key audiences.
Whether it was a New Year trip to Mexico or a packing list for a visit to the Hamptons, Revolve was beginning to grasp opportunities to engage with the Millennial demographic by getting their product noticed by trendsetters online.
Instagram’s rapid rise in the last few years has meant it is now the preeminent force in influencer marketing, with businesses spending $1.7 billion on marketing on the platform. Revolve’s strategy remains much the same as it did 10 years ago, flying their stars to exclusive locations and throwing lavish parties at Coachella. Only now Instagram is undoubtedly the most important factor for them.
Revolve doubled down by curating a strategy that didn’t market at their audience, but instead positioned itself as an indispensable fashion partner for influencers. As Revolve has become an important status symbol for so many, stars want to be seen as part of its brand and want to be engaged in its extravagant activations.
In return, Revolve requires its influencers during events to post twice a day using pre-designated hashtags to promote the brand. A small price to pay for most.
Revolve has more recently sought to establish its own brand of in-house clothing, curating an array of collections to sell directly to consumers. This is including a collection from the aforementioned Song, who is the first influencer to engage in a long-term in-house partnership for Revolve.
Having in-house collections is the start of a new strategy for Revolve. With an established brand and large online following among the key Millennial and Gen Z demographics, it is well-placed to start introducing its own product lines with support from its influencers. They have their audience locked-in, now they want to take full advantage and be a major fashion producer in their own right.
In addition to the obvious monetary value in cutting out the middleman and building in-house brands, Revolve is quick to note that designing and manufacturing its own products allows the company to stay sure-footed in an industry that can change direction in an instant.
Having their own brands offers them the opportunity to quickly release a new piece of clothing if they feel it will perform well. It is, after all, a brand built on data, not fashion. Its founders, Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, have no background in fashion but instead have expertise in data and business.
Analytics is the key driver of the brand and the primary reason for their great successes over the last 15 years. If their audience responds well to something: make more. If it doesn’t: cut it. An in-house assortment of brands and collections is seen as the natural next step forward for Revolve.
Much of Revolve’s success can be attributed to its events, which function as one of the core pillars of its marketing efforts. Revolve’s calendar of exotic trips and parties is spectacular, and its influencers would likely agree—given Revolve foots the bill for all of them.
The Hamptons trip is exclusive for Revolve’s most-followed influencers. They invite 20 of their latest and greatest stars to stay at a $37,500-per-month home—along with $2,000 dollars clothing credit, and an appearance fee to boot.
A two-week activation in Bermuda for a line-up of 75 top influencers, starting in 2018 and created to replace the Hamptons trip. Dining, pools, beach parties, yachts—you name it, it’s there.
The annual #RevolveFestival at Coachella, which has become an event unto itself in many ways, even to the point of overshadowing the main event. It is one of the most exclusive parties and returned in 2019 for its fourth year, featuring the likes of SZA and 2 Chainz.
Revolve might spend much of its time presenting an exclusive brand for the most exclusive influencers in the industry, but the fact is that it is a company that is enormously successful at appealing to its key demographic of young women.
Its top influencers may be in the stratosphere of the social media world, but many hundreds of its huge network of thousands of influencers command far more modest followings. Their influencer strategy relies just as strongly on micro- and mid-tier influencers as it does on its stars.
With the help of influencers, Revolve has successfully bridged the gap between fashion and influencers in a way that few others have been able to replicate. Helped no less by the brand hashtag of choice, #RevolveAroundTheWorld, used by almost every influencer around the world to promote its products.
It’s one of the primary reasons for their success: an ability to use social media reach out to as large an audience as possible. With 3,500 brand ambassadors; you’re casting a very wide net. In this way, they’ve been able to present themselves as a relatable brand offering affordable, yet high end, clothing to younger audiences.
In the wake of its huge IPO, Revolve is unlikely to slam the brakes on its strategy. With the rest of the fashion retail world making efforts to catch-up, expect Revolve to keep moving forward.
It has already broken the mold in what you can do by merging retail and technology together on social media, and considering the success, its roster of influencers is likely to continue to grow in size.
The Revolve Awards gives influencers the chance to walk the red carpet and pick up a gong, while influencer clothing lines can be expected to grow in number if Song’s proves to be a success. Events and activations organized by the company have so far proved to be worth the expense to provide mainstream buzz with big stars, and its partnerships with thousands of smaller influencers boost engagement from across the board.
As we go forward, we can expect Revolve to kick on and expand its existing influencer marketing strategy while everyone else scrambles to keep up.