Revolve's annual festival is one of the most exclusive Coachella events for influencers. But some are comparing this year's party to Fyre Fest after transportation issues left many people waiting for hours in the sun without water.
Clothing brand Revolve, purveyor of influencer looks and music festival fashion, launched the invite-only party in 2015. Like Coachella, this year's festival is the first live event since 2019 after a two-year hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year's event took place at the Merv Griffin Estate in La Quinta, California, five minutes from Coachella's festival grounds. It offered free drinks made with Kendall Jenner's tequila brand, free food from the California luxury supermarket Erewhon, free shopping experiences at sponsored "gifting suites" and performances by Post Malone, Jack Harlow and Willow Smith. It also featured prime photo opportunities and a pink carnival swing ride sponsored by Venmo.
But some influencers who were invited compared the "VIP" party to poorly planned events like Fyre Festival and the YouTuber-organized TanaCon.
The only way to get into Revolve Festival was by taking the provided shuttles, which picked up guests at an empty parking lot about a mile and a half from the Merv Griffin Estate. In TikTok videos and Instagram stories posted throughout the weekend, influencers complained that the transportation was disorganized and ill-equipped for large crowds. Some said they waited for hours under the hot sun with no food or water.
“Influencers get a bad reputation for acting entitled. However, influencer status aside, many people were simply outside waiting in the heat for two or three hours without any water,” said creator Averie Bishop, who said she was invited but ended up not attending after hours of waiting for the festival-provided shuttle.
"It was a difficult and unsafe situation that could have been easily avoided.”
creator averie bishop
“It was a difficult and unsafe situation that could have been easily avoided.”
Complaints from the festival were first reported by Joseph Kapsch of Los Angeles Magazine, who tweeted about the event Saturday.
Revolve did not immediately respond to a request for comment. As of Monday afternoon, the brand had not publicly commented on the backlash.
Bishop said she was offered $2,000 worth of free clothing with her invitation, but she said there was "confusion" about who was actually a VIP guest.
She said that "very few" buses were in rotation and that they picked up guests from the VIP line with more frequency than from the general admission line.
She estimates that at least 1,000 people were in the crowd when she arrived at the line Saturday. When at least three buses drove past people waiting in the general admission pool to pick up VIP invitees, "people from different lines began jumping gates, hopping into the road in front of buses and shoving each other out of the way to get on one of the buses."
"My friend and I decided to simply bail as the conditions worsened," Bishop continued. "A girl was close to passing out and a security guard rushed to find water."
Security was disorganized, Bishop said, and "there didn't seem to be any Revolve management anywhere near the chaos."
Leaving the festival was similarly chaotic.
The lifestyle influencer known as Bunny Barbie said she was invited with a VIP wristband but still waited in line for two hours before she boarded a bus. She decided to leave the festival early because it was "getting really busy." When she and her friend took the shuttle back, they were "almost trampled" getting off the bus.
"People were rushing the bus," fellow influencer Kodye Elyse said in Bunny Barbie's TikTok video. "It was, like, really, actually scary."
Some influencers said they were especially miffed that such an exclusive event was so mismanaged.
Invitations to the festival are highly coveted. Revolve invites some high-profile influencers and celebrities directly. Others have posted about having been invited to make sponsored content for Revolve — TikTok creator Anna Heid posted that she was invited as long as she posted six Instagram posts, six Instagram stories, three Instagram Reels, three TikTok videos and one YouTube video about the event.
Revolve customers and creators with smaller platforms were also invited to buy their tickets into the festival by spending at least $2,000 on the brand's website. Bishop said Revolve sent out invitations to buy into the festival a week before the event and questioned whether the company accounted for the logistics of transporting so many people before it invited them.
Bishop said neither she nor any other influencers she's close to have received an apology or an explanation from Revolve.
While Bishop doesn't think she'll attend another Revolve event again, she hopes that publicly sharing her complaints will encourage other influencers to be honest about negative experiences without fear of being blacklisted from brand events. She aired her grievances on TikTok.
"Influencers get a bad reputation because they tend to lie about their experience because of fear of experiencing repercussions at the hand of the company," she said.
Lauren-Ashley Beck, another lifestyle creator who attended the festival, shared a similar sentiment.
In an Instagram post Monday, Beck wrote that she was grateful to be invited but warned her followers to "not let the internet fool you."
"A lot of influencers and people in general want to show you the 'highlight reel' of their lives," she captioned the post. "I promise their lives aren't any cooler than yours. ... I can't be out here in these influencer streets lying to y'all."
Beck wrote that she did have fun. But she added: "Could we have done without waiting in the sun for 3 hours…also yeah (I actually do cuss a little) I can’t be out here in these influencer streets lying to y’all. I know how hard the girlies at #revolve worked to pull this off, hopefully next year will go off w out a hitch!"