Marketing dollars at Revolve go into harnessing the power of social media, hosting dazzling productions, tapping influencers to drive sales, and mounting the Revolve Festival, which has become a key event for the retailer in recent years.That is, until the pandemic hit. But with Coachella’s return after a two-year break, Revolve Festival was also back this past weekend.
“We had to come back bigger and better than ever,” said Michael Mente, co-chief executive of Revolve, on Saturday afternoon. “A few hours in, I’m super, super confident that we did.”
While most brands throw lowkey daytime events during Coachella, usually poolside with a few up-and-coming performers, Revolve Festival is a full-blown music festival with big-name performers, who in the past have included Cardi B, SZA and A$AP Rocky.
Now in its fifth year — a partnership with hospitality company The H.wood Group (owners of celeb-filled L.A. hot spots The Nice Guy and Delilah) — Post Malone, Ty Dolla $ign, Bia, Latto and Jack Harlow were among those who took the stage this year at the seven-hour-a-day party, held at the Merv Griffin Estate in La Quinta, Calif.
But leave it to Revolve to bring out one of the most talked about people on the planet — Kim Kardashian, who showed up with Kendall Jenner (her tequila brand 818 was a sponsor, the numbers splashed throughout).
There was also “It” boy actor Timothée Chalamet, “Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney and many more familiar faces — music artists Migos, Tyga, YG, Diddy, Halsey, Diplo, Chloe Bailey; actors Keke Palmer, Peyton List, Storm Reid; models Elsa Hosk, Romee Strijd, Shanina Shaik, and Jasmine Tookes, and social media stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio.
It was a bigger production than in years past — with more activations on hand — but the guest list was kept at about the same number, said Mente: “For us, it was more about quality over quantity. We didn’t want to lose the intimacy of the event. The team worked incredibly hard to put it together.” (Even so, there was quite a backlog of frustrated guests waiting to be shuttled in and out, with some reportedly in lines for hours unable to even make it inside.)
Revolve is now about 1,100 employees total, he revealed. After launching the company with just two, with Mike Karanikolas in 2003, the business grew to be valued at $1.5 billion when it went public in 2019.
Then came COVID-19. But born digital-first, Revolve was ready.
“The biggest thing that we really accelerated was expansion of categories,” Mente said of pivoting to meet the times. “We were always so known for Revolve Festival, Revolve All Around the World travel, but, of course, we’re not all dressing like that all the time. Throughout the pandemic, our customer started to come to us for a broader range of needs. We had that deep trust with her, that it really gave us permission to sell her more, offer more and more to her.”
It’s been working; in 2021, the company had profits of $99.8 million, up 76 percent from $56.8 million in 2020 and ahead of the $35.7 million seen in 2019. Sales of $891.4 million rose 54 percent from $580.6 million in 2020 and exceeded the $601 million total in 2019, as reported by WWD.
“I am such a fan of the two-day shipping, and that’s what gets me all the time,” said 22-year-old Kit Keenan, “The Bachelor” star, influencer and daughter of designer Cynthia Rowley.
“Like, if I’m going on a trip and I forget to order something, it’s there in two days,” she said of shopping on the site.
That’s part of the e-commerce business’ success — it’s reliable, said Mente, working to provide trendy, last-minute shopping in a variety of styles and prices.
It’s about giving Gen Zers options, and moving forward. That also means being more inclusive at Revolve, which has faced backlash for lacking diversity. In September the company will unveil a fall collection sized XXS to 3X made in collaboration with TikToker Remi Bader, whose fashion content centers on body positivity.
The influencer posted a video about a year ago that grabbed Revolve’s attention, she explained.
“I was just like, ‘I love Revolve, but I can’t necessarily wear everything that they have,’ and right away, like that day or the next day, they reached out,” said Bader. “I had maybe 200,000 followers. I wasn’t at where I’m at now.”
Today she has over 2 million followers on the platform.
“I love that they reached out to me and were like, ‘We want you to help make us inclusive. We want to do a line with you,’” she said. “I’m having a lot of input in the design process. I’m trying on things. They’re letting me be super involved…When you find something that you love and fits you, it’s the best feeling. You don’t want to have to fit into the clothes.”
She had on a sheer, cutout, halterneck maxi dress from Revolve’s line with fellow influencer Camila Coelho. It was her first time at Coachella, courtesy of Revolve.
“This sounds bias, but Revolve puts on the best parties,” she said.
Keenan, too, was invited to Coachella (and dressed) by Revolve. She had on a floral top by LPA and tiered ruffle skirt by Lovers And Friends, paired with a Fendi bag and cowboy boots by Ranch Road.
“I’ve been having so much fun putting my outfits together and also seeing what my friends are wearing,” she said. “I feel like we all have a different vibe. I posted a TikTok about how I feel like there’s four types of girls at Coachella. You’re either the boho girl, the trendy girl, the goth girl or the rave girl. I feel like I’ve seen that all around.”
Whatever the looks, Revolve is taking notes, using the data to project forward.
“The rest of the year will be pretty packed with a lot of different things in terms of activations, partnerships, old things, new things, category expansion,” said Mente. “We’ve been on defense for a few years, and now, this is return to full offense, and we’re ready.”