In light of widespread pushes for greater inclusivity within the fashion industry (and beyond), Revolve is coming under fire for a marked lack of diversity in its many influencer-centric Instagram campaigns. On Monday evening, no shortage of Instagram users took to the Los Angeles-based e-commerce giant's account to comment on the photos from its latest trip, which saw super-influencers like Negin Mirsalehi, Tash Oakley, Camila Coehlo, and Hailey Clauson posing poolside and on yachts in Phuket, Thailand in Revolve’s wares.
Revolve has become well-known for its frequent influencer activations, i.e., #RevolveAroundTheWorld trips. According to Los Angeles-based creative agency, Mistress, “Rather than opt for the route of shooting traditional fashion editorial ads, Revolve began regularly hosting getaway trips from Palm Springs to Croatia, inviting influencers to relax, hang out and have fun while posting images of themselves wearing Revolve clothing (oftentimes with links to purchase the items) and the hashtag #RevolveAroundTheWorld.”
It played host to individuals from its network of influencers during upwards of 70 different excursions, in 10 different countries, last year. Writing for WWD this past fall in covering the publication's Apparel and Retail CEO Summit, Rachel Strugatz detailed a discussion involving Revolve co-founder and co-CEO Michael Mente, who stated that "there are now 5,000 [Revolve influencers] in total, with the upper echelon counted as paid partners who travel with and attend events and parties on behalf of the retailer and its host of in-house apparel brands.”
With this in mind, there were two things missing from the coverage of Revolve's most recent trip: Proper advertising disclosures to alert viewers of the paid-for trip and ... women of color.
Comments – such as “No diversity at all!!! So where are the woman that looks like me?,” “Love Revolve but wish you were more inclusive. Hear us, respond to us. Promote women of all sizes and colors, your audience needs representation!,” “It’s sad how you refuse to acknowledge and work with bloggers of color,” and "I mean did you listen to Oprah’s speech for goodness sake!!?" – flooded the nearly $1 billion retailer's latest photos.
A few posts even contained the hashtag #RevolveSoWhite, to indicate a total lack of African American women in the imagery. While Revolve's influencers this time around include a Brazilian woman; Asian American women; and Amsterdam-born Negin Mirsalehi, who is of Iranian descent; for instance, they fail to include any black women, or any plus-size women, which is at the heart of the recent controversy.
Some users pointed to the systemic nature of the lack of diversity in play for Revolve, with one individual writing, “Is this new? Did you not notice there wasn’t ONE girl of color nominated for their little Revolve awards? Revolve’s been very clear on who their audience is, and it’s not women who look like me."
Still yet, others have sworn off shopping on the site, writing: “'Light skinned skinny girls only' is what you’re saying Revolve. We get it. We won’t be purchasing from you all.”
As of Monday night, Revolve has not responded to the budding controversy.