Here it is, the very best viral scam of the year: Payless opened a fake luxury boutique at an upscale mall in Los Angeles, called it “Palessi” and sold their discount footwear at high-end prices—a markup of 1,800 percent, CBS reports—to 60 fashion influencers.
The social media celebrities were told they’d be given $100 and $250 for the “market research event.” They purchased shoes from the pop-up—one influencer shelled out $645 for kicks that retail for $19.99-$39.99. They were also asked for their opinion on the styles, which ranged from “It’s just stunning. Elegant, sophisticated” to “I can tell it was made with high-quality material.” Okay!
The fashionistas were eventually given their money back and allowed to keep the shoes. Their reactions to learning that they were duped will be forever immortalized in a series of Payless ads filmed the moment they’re told the truth:
When I was a kid, shopping at Payless meant finding some really cute, potentially poorly-manufactured, off-brand, fast-fashion versions of whatever scenester, trendy thing I wanted to emulate. As an adult, I should’ve realized that there’s no shame in my game and if you want Chelsea boots and you don’t want to pay the big bucks, hello, Payless has got you.