Can Rihanna Revolutionize Lingerie the Way She Did the Makeup Industry?
When Rihanna talks, people listen. And when Rihanna stands behind something, people buy it.
The 30-year-old Barbadian superstar was once known as a pop star to deliver hit after hit after hit—she’s released an impressive nine albums since her 2005 Music of the Sun debut—but now, there’s another term that better describes her: business woman.
RiRi has officially confirmed that yes, she's dropping her very own lingerie line. On Friday, she shared an Instagram video for the new line called Savage x Fenty. "We bout to light this up sis!!" she wrote as the caption, offering a link to the website, where you can sign up for details, and teasing the brand's new Instagram account.
In March, WWD reported that she landed a deal for the line with TechStyle Fashion Group, the company that owns Fabletics, ShoeDazzle, JustFab, and FabKids, and which has previously turned to celebrities for a dose of star power and profitability. As WWD pointed out, Kate Hudson founded Fabletics—which counts Demi Lovato as a major brand ambassador—while Kim Kardashian co-founded ShoeDazzle in 2009, and Kimora Lee Simmons was once president of JustFab.
At the time, a TechStyle spokesperson did not confirm the report when reached by InStyle: “As a policy, the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
While we're waiting on more details, we can see this becoming another lucrative venture for Rihanna. In fact, now might be the perfect time to hook up with Rihanna on a collection of intimates. The company is reportedly looking to file for a public offering, and brands traditionally look to beef up their portfolio before moving forward with one. As of March, TechStyle raised about $300 million to date, and a successful project with the superstar would surely help investors view the company more desirable.
Fresh off the success of her Fenty Beauty launch, Rihanna may be the ultimate celebrity partner. And it’s important to consider her entrepreneurial track record. In 2017, she hit the No. 14 spot on the Forbes list of the highest-paid female celebrities, having earned $36 million. The publication cited her lucrative tours, acting jobs on shows like Bates Motel, and her position as the creative director of Puma.
She has worked with Puma since 2014, and the several Fenty x Puma collections she’s dropped for the brand have proven to be bonafide hits. In 2017, Footwear News names the Fenty x Puma creeper the best shoe of the year. And that April, Puma’s CEO Björns Gulden revealed that the company’s net income increased 92 percent in that quarter. Since they began working with Rihanna, Puma’s share price reportedly jumped nearly €200 (approximately $248). We’re not mathematicians, but obviously, something is working.
Her role with Fenty Beauty more dramatically catapulted her into a boardroom power player. In September, she launched the beauty brand, which has situated itself as one of the industry’s most valuable and influential. As of January, revenue from the brand is projected to surpass that of both Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Beauty and Kim Kardashian’s KKW, and it has already done so with Kat Von D’s line. For reference, Kylie’s line reportedly sold $420 million of products as of August 2017. Fenty Beauty’s owner, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, does not disclose the revenue of the company’s individual brands.
But why, exactly, have her beauty projects met so much success? Many have said that the secret sauce behind those rising revenue figures is simple: diversity. Unlike competitors that have received backlash for lack of range in makeup for all skin tones, Fenty Beauty offers 40 shades of its foundation. For this—and for consistently booking diverse models for her Fenty x Puma runway shows—Rihanna is touted as having ignited a mini diversity revolution in the fashion and beauty industries. In October, Newsweek reported that she gained enough exposure through the brand to earn over $72 million in media value.
Speaking to WWD in February, Rihanna’s stylist and junior creative director at Fenty, Jahleel Weaver, explained the phenomenon. “She always says the first women she saw put on makeup was a black women—her mother,” he said. “It was natural for her to obviously appear to that, but also to appeal to all women. Is she the first person ever to offer dark skin foundations? No. But is she the first person to maybe market to them in a very long time?”
Could this success cross over into the world of lingerie? It’s likely. She has experience in other areas of clothing and accessories, like shoes with Manolo Blahnik, jewelry with Chopard, socks with Stance, and sunglasses with Dior. We must remember that Rihanna has always put forth a remarkably daring wardrobe. She unapologetically wears what she wants—from barely there dresses to sweats on the red carpet. And yes, she’s basically arrived to major industry events in what some would describe as lingerie.
At the 2014 CFDA Awards, Rihanna made headlines for showing up to receive her Fashion Icon Award in an entirely see-through Adam Selman number (it featured 230,000 Swarovski crystals).
That same year, she headed to the amfAR Inspiration Gala in L.A. not just to inspire—but also to command attention. Her white Tom Ford dress featured a high-slit cutout plus a totally sheer bra-top bustier designed with purple embroidered pasties. Add thigh-high see-through tights and you’ve got yourself the ultimate lingerie campaign model.
But it’s not just her cool that could make her partnership one for the history books. Much like her boundary-breaking moves in makeup and on the runway, the lingerie market is begging for diversity as well. Lingerie heavyweight Victoria’s Secret ended the 2015 fiscal year with $7.2 billion in revenue, but competitors have knocked the bra-maker off its feet. Same-store sales are down by six percent, and as Business Insider notes, body-positive brands like American Eagle and others like Aerie in similar categories are giving VS a run for its money.
Rihanna could enter the market with not only a substantial following—she boasts an impressive 147.3 million combined followers on Instagram and Twitter—but a penchant for pushing diversity in all its forms. Previously, she’s opened up about feeling comfortable with her body, always.
“Well, I actually have had the pleasure of a fluctuating body type, where one day I can literally fit into something that is bodycon, and then the next day—the next week—I need something oversized; I need a little crop here and a high-waist there to hide that part, you know?” she told The Cut in October. “I really pay attention every day when I go into the closet about what’s working for my body that morning. I feel like that’s how everyone should go after fashion, because it’s an individual thing. And then, if you take it further, it’s like: What week are you having? You having a skinny week? You having a fat week? Are we doing arms this week? We doing legs this week? We doing oversized?”
At Parsons School of Design’s 2017 annual benefit and student fashion show, the school's dean of fashion Durak Cakmak summed up her success to The New York Times: “She has a quite unique ability to do it all at the same time.” Indeed.
Expect Savage x Fenty to make a splash.