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How Instagram influencers helped turn Revolve into a fashion empire


Revolve, one of the fastest-growing e-commerce clothing companies in the nation, was founded by two men in 2003 who knew nothing about fashion. Founders Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, worked at a tech company together prior to the start of Revolve. Their knowledge of data and analytics gave them a foot in the door in the fashion industry.


“There was a large and growing interest in apparel online. But there weren’t really that many players doing it or doing it well. We felt like we could come out of the gates with a better approach and then continue to build on that,” Karanikolas said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.


Mente and Karanikolas saw an opportunity and ran with it. They were working with bloggers before the term “influencer” came to be. Most Millennials and Gen-Zers probably know of Revolve because it is all over their Instagram feed. That’s because the brand invests a significant percentage of its marketing budget in working with approximately 3,500 social media influencers. They pay these influencers to wear Revolve clothing and accessories in their posts, which include a variety of designer names.


“Most of the brands I love and cherish were introduced to me via influencer sponsored posts” said Scout Sobel, founder of Scouts Agency, “It works!”


Revolve works with micro-influencers who have under 100,000 followers as well as high-profile models and celebrities with millions of followers. According to an Article by Glossy, “70% of the brand’s sales are driven by influencers.”


It is an advertising game. In the traditional advertising world, millions are spent without batting an eye. Now, that money gets to go into the hands of content creators who are paving a new career for our generation,” said Sobel.


Revolve hosts events for the influencers they work with to come and “content create.” Their most well-known event is the invite-only Revolve festival which is held during Coachella weekend. In 2019, 750 influencers were dressed by Revolve for the event, but they were not paid. Revolve made over $2.5 million in sponsorship money from this event alone and gained over 100,000 Instagram followers.


“Smart brands realize the enormous power some influencers have to convince both loyal and new customers to change behaviors, attitudes and beliefs,” said Carolyn Casertano, a Communication Professor at the University of Arizona.


In addition to their content creating events, Revolve sends their influencers on free trips, supply them with free clothes and pay them big bucks to market the brand. Influencer marketing is the driving force behind this billion-dollar brand whose growth is not slowing down anytime soon.


By Jensen Bell

Jensen studies Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations at San Diego State University. She is currently a Content Editor intern at Amobee, a leading advertising platform. After graduating in May 2021, she aspires to work for one of her favorite lifestyle or beauty brands and work her way up to the brand manager position.

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