Picture a tote bag. A really big tote bag, cut extra wide to fit your entire farmer’s market haul, with wide straps to evenly distribute weight while you lug your satsuma mandarins and eggs and the kale you’ll forget about and leave to rot in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator. It’s 100 percent cotton, made in the United States and comes in a ballet pink or a lovely faded olive color.
What would you pay for such a bag? $30? $50? (For context, the largest of L.L. Bean’s classic Boat and Tote bags will run you $45.)
How about $120?
That’s how much Emily Mariko, the ultra-popular content creator who rose to viral fame for her leftover salmon recipe, began selling her much-hyped wares for on Monday.
In case you aren’t familiar, Ms. Mariko is an influencer who burst onto the scene in 2021 teaching millions how to combine salmon, rice, sriracha and mayonnaise into a tasty bowl. (The trick was to use an ice cube in the microwave to reheat the rice for just the right consistency.) From there, she gained millions of new followers who watch her silently unpack her groceries and cook in an ever-immaculate kitchen. Ms. Mariko typically does not speak in her videos, giving them an A.S.M.R. feel. Her wedding in 2023 was hailed a so-called quiet luxury masterpiece.
In the days leading up the bag going on sale, Ms. Mariko posted teaser videos for her nearly 13 million TikTok followers.
The broader reaction, however, may not have been quite what Ms. Mariko anticipated. “Your bag is the cost of my eye exam,” one user commented on one of Ms. Mariko’s videos. “This looks like a freebie gift bag with purchase,” another wrote. The tote bag also raised several increasingly common questions in the world of influencing. How much does having a large following correlate to having good taste? Do you want to buy this bag because it is stylish or useful or simply because someone popular told you to?
Ms. Mariko did not return a request for comment.
Some users have since posted videos criticizing Ms. Mariko for selling a bag they have deemed overpriced and out of touch. “You have enough tote bags,” one user said in a video, proceeding to model all the various tote bags she already owned and encouraging viewers to use what they already had on hand.
Amber Fehrenbacher, a marketing director who lives in Columbia, Mo., also posted a video criticizing Ms. Mariko’s bag. “In this economy?!?, she needs to read the room,” wrote one commenter on Ms. Fehrenbacher’s video. Several others suggested buying similarly sized totes from Ikea for a fraction of the price. “I’m just so confused, what’s so special,” another wrote.
“People are becoming, you know, just very fatigued by influencers, for sure, especially as they’re struggling to buy the groceries to put in said tote bag,” Ms. Fehrenbacher, 37, said. While she hadn’t been considering purchasing the tote herself, she thought there were lessons to be learned from Ms. Mariko’s new business venture for other creators.
Laura Rubin, a copywriter and business owner from Doylestown, Pa., wasn’t surprised by the bag’s price. She felt it was aligned with the brand Ms. Mariko has long established for herself.
“If you look at her content from day to day, the items that she’s interacting with, for the most part, are expensive,” Ms. Rubin, 38, said. “They’re out of cost for most people, even when she’s going grocery shopping, she’s going at grocery shops that are, usually, more expensive for day to day items. When she’s going on trips, they’re more luxurious trips.” Ms. Rubin also described Ms. Mariko’s 2023 wedding, which was heavily documented online.
“I think it would have been off brand for her to create something that was less than $100,” she added.
The tote bag is currently sold out.