How Rihanna went from pop sensation to fashion entrepreneur with Fenty
Rihanna has come a long way from “Pon de Replay.” The singer, entrepreneur, actor, cosmetic company owner, and now esteemed fashion designer has made headlines with her business pursuits. Establishing a fortune of $600 million, Rihanna is officially the wealthiest female musician in the world, followed by Madonna at $570 million, Céline Dion at $450 million, and Beyoncé at $400 million. Rihanna’s fortune, however, didn’t come easy. She built an empire practically from the ground up, and it doesn’t look like she’s stopping anytime soon. The 31-year-old entrepreneur partnered with the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton fashion house in May, effectively becoming the youngest and first woman of color to achieve a label under the Paris-based fashion house. Rihanna is also the first woman to launch an original brand under the luxury group. This is the first new fashion house created under LVMH in 32 years and is sure to make a splash in the fashion world.
The Fenty brand is undoubtedly making headlines. But where did the brand begin?
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados. Before she became the absolute icon she is today, Rihanna says she was “transfixed” by her mother’s lipstick as a little girl. When she began to use makeup herself, she considered it a way to enhance her self-expression in bold and daring ways. She attributes her inspiration for developing the “Fenty Beauty” brand after experimenting with the best beauty products money can buy. Yet, something was still missing. Rihanna noticed there were still so many gaps in the makeup industry for women with different skin types and tones. With the launch of Fenty Beauty, Rihanna set out to provide a line of makeup for every woman by producing a range of makeup for hard-to-match skin tones, formulas that work with different skin types, and more. Fenty Beauty offers more than 40 shades of foundation and 50 shades of concealer, making it one of the most inclusive beauty brands in the world. Fenty Beauty was such a hit, the brand raked in a casual $100 million in its first 40 days. In total, Fenty Beauty generated about $560 million in revenue in 2018 after 15 months in business.
“Makeup is there for you to have fun with,” Rihanna said. “It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.” While her beauty line was the first to bear the Fenty name, Rihanna was invested in fashion far before Fenty Beauty came onto the scene in September 2017.
The icon’s introduction to apparel
The star has always been quite the fashion icon, but Rihanna officially stepped onto the fashion scene as a creative director for sportswear brand Puma in December 2014. She was in charge of producing collaborations with the brand for women’s apparel and footwear. Fans quickly took note, as the singer released her first trainer with Puma in fall 2015 and the piece sold out in three hours. Over the next two years, Rihanna worked with Puma on multiple collections and received critical acclaim for her work. “Sometimes when a famous person tries his or her hand at another discipline, the results can be uneven,” Vogue Magazine stated. “And yet there are those special cases when making the switch leads to a good surprise. Judging by the collection she showed today, we can add Rihanna to that list.”
Fast forward to September 2018, Rihanna launched showcased her first Fenty-branded apparel at New York Fashion Week. The entrepreneur was at it again, this time with lingerie. Named “Savage X Fenty,” the brand was in step with Fenty Beauty’s inclusiveness and established lingerie for women of all body types. And, as it turns out, inclusivity sells. Savage X Fenty lingerie was officially for sale on May 11, 2018, and sold out its entire inventory less than a month later on July 8, 2018.
The Fenty brand today
After such wild success with beauty and lingerie, Rihanna is taking her next leap into the luxury fashion world with none other than LVMH. This French multinational luxury goods conglomerate controls over 60 subsidiaries that manage several prestigious brands. Fenty will be joining the likes of Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and more. Although Rihanna hasn’t come out with a full-length album since 2016, the star continues to rake in $70 million annually off her back catalog in royalties and downloads. The Fenty addition to the fashion house will likely skyrocket Rihanna’s annual earnings even more, as the 165-year-old brand Louis Vuitton is valued at $39.3 billion. The entire LVMH group was up 16% in the first quarter of 2019, raking in $14.1 billion in sales. Fenty will be selling ready-to-wear outfits, shoes, and accessories via its website. The Fenty price point is luxury, however, with shoes starting at $625, jackets begin at $1,100, and a Fenty t-shirt will run you $250. These prices on par with other luxury brands, yet the variety of the Fendy offerings stick out among the other brands under LVMH. It seems Rihanna’s – and therefore the Fenty brand’s – emphasis on diversity and inclusivity is really paying off. What started as an interest in beauty has expanded into a world-renowned, global brand that has introduced inclusivity into the most competitive industries today.