LVMH Is Putting A “Pause” On Rihanna’s Fenty Fashion Label
PARIS, FRANCE — Last fall, LVMH revealed that Rihanna‘s Fenty clothing line is a “work in progress” (see it here).
During that time, while speaking to analysts after LVMH published third-quarter sales, chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said Rihanna’s luxury maison was still finding its footing.
“On Fenty fashion, we are obviously still in a launching phase and we have to figure out exactly what is the right offer. It’s not something that is easy. We were starting entirely from scratch,” he said.
“Obviously, we have the great help from Rihanna on this, but I would say it’s still a work in progress when it comes to really defining what the offer will be. We have successes, we have things that have worked less well, so we have to sort in between the two and really decide what should be the core strengths of the offer in the years to come,” he added.
On February 10, 2021, News broke that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Rihanna are pausing the Fenty fashion house nearly two years after its debut.
In 2019, DM Fashion Book exclusively reported that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Rihanna were in secret talks to launch a luxury house under her name, according to multiple sources (see it here).
On February 27, 2019, new details emerged (see it here). After months of speculations, on May 10, 2019, LVMH officially confirmed a luxury label with Riri, under the Fenty banner (see it here). The collection debuted in a pop-up store in Paris on May 24 and online on May 29, operating outside of the conventional fashion show schedule under what it has dubbed a “see-now-wear-now” model.
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Rihanna became the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH, the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH maison, and this marked the first time LVMH — whose forte is modernizing legacy brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Bulgari and Dom Perignon — has launched a fashion brand from scratch since it set up a couture house for Christian Lacroix in 1987.
LVMH handpicked a clutch of employees from within, including some from Louis Vuitton and Celine, to work on the project in tandem with Rihanna and some of her key associates. Among them are Veronique Gebel, previously ready-to-wear director at Louis Vuitton.
Due to the challenges spawned by the ongoing coronavirus crisis and difficulty in finding its footing upon launch, D.M. Fashion Book learned that LVMH and Rihanna are putting a pause on the Fenty fashion house for the foreseeable future. The conglomerate is instead going to focus on Rihanna’s booming beauty business with Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. Private equity giant, L Catterton, which LVMH owns a stake in, has also led a $115 million Series B fundraising round for Rihanna’s successful lingerie label, Savage x Fenty, to support its growth and upcoming expansion into retail.
“Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to put on hold the RTW activity, based in Europe, pending better conditions,” LVMH said.
The brand stopped posting on its Instagram account on Jan. 1, and the last collection drop on Fenty.com dates back to November 2020: nail-heeled footwear in collaboration with one of Rihanna’s favorite shoe designers, Amina Muaddi. It is understood the e-commerce site — the main distribution channel for Fenty fashions — is to go dark by the end of February or early March.
According to sources, a skeleton staff remains at the Paris headquarters of Fenty fashions to wind down remaining operations.
Meanwhile, signaling its strong belief in Rihanna and her growing Fenty product universe, LVMH now plans to concentrate on Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin — and get involved in her successful lingerie venture.
Launched in 2018 with California-based TechStyle Fashion Group, Rihanna’s lingerie brand posted revenue growth of more than 200 percent last year, and “increased its active VIP member base by more than 150 percent,” Savage x Fenty said in a statement.
The fundraising round also garnered “significant participation” from existing investors such as Marcy Venture Partners, which was cofounded by Jay Z, and Avenir. Savage also mentioned a “number of new investors,” including Sunley House Capital, part of Advent International.
“Savage x Fenty has achieved remarkable success by disrupting the intimates category,” Jon Owsley, co-managing partner of L Catterton’s Growth Fund, said in a statement. “The brand strikes a unique balance between affordability, fashion and comfort, stands deeply for inclusivity and diversity, and has differentiated itself by building an extraordinary level of affinity and unmatched customer loyalty. We believe the opportunities ahead for Savage x Fenty are enormous.”
The 2017 launch of Fenty Beauty (see it here) included an unprecedented 40 shades of foundation, while her lingerie brand has an extended size offering, including bras from 30A to 42H and panties and sleepwear ranging from XS to 3X. Savage x Fenty has also recently expanded to include men’s basics (see it here).
“LVMH and Rihanna reaffirm their ambition to concentrate on the growth and the long-term development of the Fenty ecosystem focusing on cosmetics, skin care and lingerie,” LVMH and Rihanna added in a statement to WWD.
Rihanna is said to be “sad” about having to put her Fenty fashion house on pause, but excited about her brand’s potential in other categories.
The fashion start-up came up against the coronavirus crisis, which kept the BET, Billboard and Grammy Award winning artist grounded in Los Angeles, allowing her to be hands-on with Fenty Beauty and the launch last July of Fenty Skin, both based in California, but estranged from design and development teams in Paris, and production sites in Italy. Rihanna was known to jump on a plane to visit important fabric suppliers and educate herself about garment production.
It is understood that Rihanna and LVMH ultimately decided to “make priorities” and focus on Fenty’s high-flying U.S.-based businesses, with sources describing the launch of Fenty Skin as a “home run.”
It is understood that the pop star and the luxury group have other projects in the pipeline.
Market sources estimate Fenty Skin racked up sales of $30 million in less than four months on its e-store. The brand debuted in Sephora locations this month, and it is also available at Harvey Nichols and Boots in the U.K.
The Fenty fashion house is said to have enjoyed encouraging sales of eyewear, shoes and denim, and found some initial traction in department stores. It is understood Rihanna’s first drop of shoes with Muaddi last July sold out within five days.
But the challenges of creating eight rtw collections a year and running a start-up remotely proved too onerous.
Photos Credit: Instagram Reproduction