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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article referred to a minimum of 36 T-shirts that needed to be sold in order for the line to make it to production. We have since learned that the line did not originally include T-shirts, and the production minimum was 36 of each product, with 7 products total. We have updated the article to correct those errors.
It’s literally a fact that there is nothing we here at Betches love more than a good influencer scandal or fail. Is it because we’re all messy bitches who live for drama? Because we all are secretly kind of salty we can’t be full-time influencers, and love the schadenfreude? Maybe a little bit of both. In any case, this new story about an influencer with a failed clothing line is making the rounds on Twitter, and you’ll love it.
The subject of this influencer fail is a girl who goes by @arii on Instagram, who is an 18-year-old with over 2 million followers. Yes, I will pause for your collective exasperated, jealous sigh. And yes, I will give you enough time to grapple with the fact that you are currently feeling envious of a teenager. I’m generous like that. So, yeah, @arii is an influencer who currently has 2.6 million Instagram followers. She does typical influencer things and basically just takes pictures of herself in various cool locales. I don’t really get the hype, but whatever, I’m probably missing something all the kids know about.
Like, here she is posing on some outdoor furniture:
And here she is with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Cool pictures, but I just don’t get what’s so special about them. Then again, she doesn’t appear to do a ton of contouring or editing (but also maybe I’m just naive), so I can admire that.
In any case, recently, Arii tried to start a clothing line, as many influencers do. Arii appears to have tried to start a line called ERA. There aren’t any photos of her clothes up on Arii’s Instagram anymore, and the Instagram for ERA is private, but from the looks of it (the few photos I gleaned off Twitter), the line looked like the type of clothes you’d find in literally any gas station.
Look at her feed vs her product line. These aren’t even close to the same aesthetic.
If you can’t imagine her wearing any of these, why would her followers? pic.twitter.com/5CdEdxKUjf
— Jack Appleby (@JuiceboxCA) May 27, 2019
I mean, yeah, I wouldn’t spend my money on a plain shirt with three letters on it and some butterflies, and apparently nobody else did either, because the brand failed to launch. Apparently, Arii needed to sell 36 of each item in order for the items to actually make it to production and she… fell short.
So, how could this happen? The first thing that came to mind for me was that maybe her followers are fake? So I took a look at the engagement. For 2.6 million followers, her recent posts are mostly hovering around the 40,000 likes range. I’m not an expert in ratios, but just judging off of the engagement on @betches, that seems pretty on par with how many likes you’d expect someone with an account that size to get. So I don’t think a significant majority of her followers are fake, so that theory is mostly out.
I turned, then, to Twitter, where many people were quick to point out that followers =/= customers.
The influencer bubble is bursting. This young lady has well over 2 million followers and couldn’t sell 36 shirts. Focus on genuine engagement and not followers cuz they ain’t gonna buy a thing. pic.twitter.com/uOSVxc2k4D
— Flawless and Brown (@kissmyelite) May 27, 2019
And plenty pointed out that the clothing Arii was going to sell was, um, less than fashion-forward.
Just gonna be honest, your merch was super basic and didn’t even look great. You’re living in an Influencer bubble. No follower really gives a fuck about you, they just follow you cause you look pretty but that’s about it. Try to be genuine. Atb.
— GinsengGreenTea (@_iroh_loves_tea) May 28, 2019
Some people expressed this point more diplomatically than others.
constructive criticism: nothing about ur brand is new or innovating, we’ve seen it before. if u want to sell, sell something original and creative. good luck ari!! 🙂
— david (@davidchavezx) May 27, 2019
Arii herself has responded to all the criticism, and honestly, I think she has good points. For one, she points out that she’s only 18 and learning—everybody makes mistakes, and most people’s first venture is not a home run.
grown people are literally laughing at me because of what happened with my brand. I AM 18 & still learning. AGAIN, brands don’t take off on the first try & i knew that. i never expected to sell out because i had followers. i learned my lesson & won’t give up now.
— ✭a (@arii) May 27, 2019
She was also very quick to acknowledge that followers do not necessarily translate to sales—a lesson she certainly learned the hard way.
just cause i have a lot of followers doesn’t mean its gonna be guaranteed that i sell out. i hate what happened & haven’t been motivated to do anything recently & it sucks.
— ✭a (@arii) May 27, 2019
And, finally, she promises to take everyone’s criticism to heart.
i’ve studied everyone’s responses & advice, i will take this summer to work harder & learn more. this isn’t the end, i won’t let this hate & laughter get to me! thank you to those who have sent kind messages 🖤
— ✭a (@arii) May 27, 2019
Maybe this is her admitting she will come out with a better line that people would actually want to buy? I hope not, but I’ve got to say, this would be a very genius marketing strategy for her real launch—which people on Twitter are already guessing was the plan all along.
Not so hot take. The failure and subsequent pity party IS her marketing angle and she’ll use it later to pivot and say how she overcame adversity and try to sell ebooks on the road to success 🤷🏾♀️
— The Many Faced God’s personal MUA (@chas_sididdy) May 28, 2019
Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. But then again, I had not heard of Arii until today, when I read about this failed merch line, and now I follow her. So it’s definitely possible. But I like to believe we live in a world where influencers fail because they grossly overestimate their own popularity and influence, and not because of some elaborate sales ploy for an undetermined brand further down the line. Not to mention, I would imagine that it would be even harder to move any new product the next time around. Like, think about it: if you liked a shirt, would you buy it if you knew there was a risk you’d end up waiting for a shipping confirmation, then having your order get canceled because not enough other people bought stuff? I wouldn’t.
Whatever happens with the clothing line, this has been an important lesson that influencers might not have as much power as we all thought. Maybe it’s time for me to give up my Instagram account where I post steamed dumplings paired with rap lyrics? Just kidding, I don’t have one of those. Side bar: has anybody done that yet?
UPDATE: Arii posted an Instagram about her product launch, clearing up a few misconceptions in the caption.
View this post on Instagram
hi 💜 as many of you seen, my brand failing on its first drop has gotten alot of buzz & i wanted to clear a few things up. first i never even sold t-shirts so i have no idea where that came from. the minimum wasn’t 36 products i had to sell, it was 36 of each product & i had 7 different products so i had to sell 252 pieces for my first drop (very hard). i’ve also never bought followers within the 4 years i’ve been on social media, every follower has been earned. overtime your fans grow out of beings fans. i never had the thought in my head that me having followers meant i was gonna sell out, i knew that wasn’t the case & i mentioned that before. i don’t need anyone’s sympathy nor am i trying to use pity to sell more next time. i shared my failure because i’ve always kept it real with my followers & i wasn’t going to hide in the shadows about this. i just wanna say thank you to those who have been nice enough to give me words of encouragement & advice instead of trolling me.🖤 this is just a lesson learned & i will work harder. i won’t give up!!! taking time to study & design better.
A post shared by arii (@arii) on
She writes, “as many of you seen, my brand failing on its first drop has gotten alot of buzz & i wanted to clear a few things up. first i never even sold t-shirts so i have no idea where that came from. the minimum wasn’t 36 products i had to sell, it was 36 of each product & i had 7 different products so i had to sell 252 pieces for my first drop (very hard). i’ve also never bought followers within the 4 years i’ve been on social media, every follower has been earned. overtime your fans grow out of beings fans. i never had the thought in my head that me having followers meant i was gonna sell out, i knew that wasn’t the case & i mentioned that before. i don’t need anyone’s sympathy nor am i trying to use pity to sell more next time. i shared my failure because i’ve always kept it real with my followers & i wasn’t going to hide in the shadows about this. i just wanna say thank you to those who have been nice enough to give me words of encouragement & advice instead of trolling me.🖤 this is just a lesson learned & i will work harder. i won’t give up!!! taking time to study & design better.”
So there were never T-shirts, or even any T-shirts at all, and the minimum threshold was actually a lot higher than people originally thought. In any case, Arii seems to be taking this as a learning experience for next time.
Images: arii / Instagram (2); chas_sididdy, arii (3), davidchavezx, _iroh_loves_tea, kissmyelite, JuiceboxCA / Twitter