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MAKE THAT RIHANNA MONEY

A luxury fashion label from Rihanna and LVMH would be a coup—for LVMH

Cast member Rihanna poses for pictures as she arrives for the European premiere of Ocean's 8 in London, Britain June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson - RC1A9C0E6930
Reuters/Simon Dawson
Just imagine Rihanna in Rihanna on the red carpet.
  • Marc Bain
By Marc Bain

Fashion reporter

Singer and general mega-star Rihanna is said to be readying her own luxury label with LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group, WWD reports (paywall).

Multiple sources who spoke to the fashion trade publication said LVMH has already picked a handful of employees from its brands Louis Vuitton and Celine to work with Rihanna and her team on the line. It’s believed the collection will include clothes, leather goods, and accessories, and though WWD couldn’t learn the exact timing of its launch, one source indicated it could be released along with her next album, which is due later this year. We have reached out to LVMH for comment and will update this story with any reply.

The celebrity clothing line is a well-worn concept, but a partnership between Rihanna and LVMH, who already have a relationship through her Fenty Beauty line, would be something else. The last time LVMH launched a fashion label from scratch, rather than acquiring it, was Christian Lacroix in 1987, and its fashion houses revolve around designers, not celebrities. The reported tie up emphasizes the extraordinary potential LVMH sees in Rihanna, with good reason. Beyond the obvious advantages of her high marketability and her recognized status as one of the most adventurously fashionable stars of her time, Rihanna has repeatedly proved herself as a brand founder able to connect with young shoppers, both through her eye for sellable fashion and her inclusivity.

A couple years ago, when she first released a line of sneakers with Puma, they were an immediate hit, helping to boost the company’s overall results.

Fenty Beauty, which came out of an LVMH incubator program and debuted at LVMH-owned Sephora, has been an even bigger success. From its start in 2017, it drew a huge audience and widespread attention by recognizing the need for makeup that catered to a wide range of human skin tones, rather than treating white skin as a default and offering just a few options in darker shades. In its first few months, it was on pace to outsell the multimillion-dollar beauty lines of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian West, according to an estimate by research firm Slice Intelligence (paywall).

The launch of her lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, last year again won praise, this time for taking into account women of a variety of body sizes. The line quickly sold out after launch, and has since expanded with physical stores in select cities. It has gotten some criticism for offering different designs to its smaller and larger customers, but has mostly been received as an antidote to the prevailing imagery of skinny, toned women in underwear ads. It also recognizes that the shade “nude” means different things to people of different colors.

This inclusivity matters. In a recent report on the luxury industry, management consultancy Bain & Company noted that shoppers are increasingly paying attention to a brand’s values. Among the things they’re looking for when deciding which labels to spend their money on are diversity and inclusivity in a brand’s messaging and products.

Louis Vuitton has moved in this direction itself. Virgil Abloh, who took over its men’s line last year and became the first black American artistic director at the brand, picked a highly diverse cast for his debut runway show. Abloh’s appointment has drawn excitement among a lot of young shoppers, and sales of his first collection look to be strong, so far outpacing sales of Louis Vuitton’s hugely popular Supreme tie-up at a recent Tokyo pop-up (paywall).

LVMH, already confident of Rihanna’s ability to make products that sell, looks to be hoping for more of that excitement. With Rihanna, it could certainly get it: Just imagine Rihanna wearing Rihanna, on tour and on the red carpet.

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