Rihanna and LVMH pause fashion house Fenty – WWD

Rihanna rocked the fashion scene on Wednesday, revealing she was suspending her luxury home with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton while roaring with her Savage x Fenty lingerie, backed by $115 million in new funding.

The twin developments highlighted the challenges dressy fashion brands have faced amid the pandemic — even megastars aren’t immune — and pointed to more explosive growth in categories like fashion wear. interior and beauty.

WWD has announced that Rihanna and LVMH have mutually agreed to suspend fashion house Fenty, less than two years after the launch.

The brand stopped posting to its Instagram account on January 1, and the last collection release on Fenty.com was in November 2020: studded heels in collaboration with one of Rihanna’s favorite shoe designers, Amina Muaddi . It is understood that the e-commerce site – the primary distribution channel for Fenty apparel – is due to shut down by the end of February or early March.

LVMH confirmed the development exclusively to WWD via a brief statement saying, “Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to suspend the European-based ready-to-wear business pending better terms.”

According to sources, a reduced staff remains at the Paris headquarters of Fenty Fashions to end the remaining operations.

Meanwhile, signaling its strong belief in Rihanna and its growing Fenty product universe, LVMH now plans to focus on Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin – and get involved in its successful lingerie business.

Separately on Wednesday, Savage x Fenty said private equity giant L Catterton, in which LVMH has a stake, led a $115 million Series B funding round to support its future growth and expansion in the retail business.

Launched in 2018 with California-based TechStyle Fashion Group, Rihanna’s lingerie brand saw revenue growth of over 200% last year and “increased its active VIP member base by over 150%” , Savage x Fenty said in a statement.

The fundraiser also garnered “significant participation” from existing investors such as Marcy Venture Partners, which was co-founded by Jay Z, and Avenir. Savage also mentioned a “number of new investors”, including Sunley House Capital, part of Advent International.

Rihanna at the launch of Savage x Fenty.
Clint Spaulding for WWD

“Savage x Fenty has achieved remarkable success in disrupting the underwear category,” Jon Owsley, co-manager of L Catterton’s Growth Fund, said in a statement. “The brand strikes a unique balance between affordability, fashion and comfort, is a strong advocate for inclusivity and diversity, and has differentiated itself by creating an extraordinary level of affinity and unparalleled customer loyalty. We believe that the opportunities ahead for Savage x Fenty are huge.

Fenty Beauty’s 2017 launch featured an unprecedented 40 shades of foundation, while its lingerie brand offers an expanded size offering, including bras from 30A to 42H and panties and nightwear ranging from XS to 3X. Savage x Fenty has also recently expanded to include men’s basics.

“LVMH and Rihanna reaffirm their ambition to focus on the long-term growth and development of the Fenty ecosystem focused on cosmetics, skincare and lingerie,” LVMH and Rihanna added in their statement to WWD.

At the end of last year, Rihanna said look for investors to develop Savage x Fenty, running a selective process with Goldman Sachs. On Wednesday, Savage clarified that Goldman was acting as exclusive placement agent for the Series B financing, with Rothschild & Co. serving as financial advisor to the Savage x Fenty joint venture partners.

Rihanna would be “sad” to have to put her fashion house Fenty on ice, but excited about her brand’s potential in other categories.

The fashion start-up has struggled with the coronavirus crisis, which has kept the music star in Los Angeles, allowing her to take care of Font Beauty and last July’s launch of Fenty Skin, both based in California, but away from design. and development teams in Paris, and production sites in Italy. Rihanna was known for jumping on a plane to visit major fabric suppliers and learn about garment production.

It is understood Rihanna and LVMH ultimately decided to “prioritize” and focus on Fenty’s high-flying US business, with sources describing the Fenty Skin launch as a “home run”.

Sources told WWD that the pop star and the luxury group have other projects in the works.

Market sources estimate that Fenty Skin achieved sales of $30 million in less than four months on its online store. The brand debuted in Sephora stores this month, and it’s also available at Harvey Nichols and Boots in the UK.

Fashion house Fenty would have liked to encourage sales of eyewear, shoes and denim, and found some initial traction in department stores. It is understood that Rihanna’s first delivery of shoes with Muaddi last July sold out within five days.

But the challenges of creating eight rtw collections a year and running a remote start-up proved too onerous.

By all accounts, Rihanna’s popularity remains robust, despite the fact that she hasn’t released a new album since 2016 or had plenty of red carpet opportunities lately. His personal Instagram account has 90.8 million followers.

The Fenty fashion Instagram account had 1 million followers compared to 3.9 million for Savage x Fenty by Rihanna and 10.5 million for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. Fenty Skin’s Instagram platform has over 800,000 followers.

WWD announced the news in January 2019 that Rihanna, already a color cosmetics prodigy via her beauty partnership with LVMH, would enter the fashion arena with her own label after a stint as creative director at Puma.

Officially announced in May of that year, LVMH said the house of Fenty would be “centered on Rihanna, developed by her and taking shape with her vision in terms of ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories, including commercialization and communication of the brand”.

It was the first time that LVMH – whose forte is modernizing legacy brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Bulgari – had launched a fashion label from scratch since building a fashion house for Christian Lacroix in 1987.

The project was also unusually low-key for a group known for its lavish fashion shows and flashy ad campaigns. While there were pop-up events at big-name stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, product launches were low-key affairs advertised on the Fenty fashion website and on social media.

Last fall, LVMH appointed a new CEO which seemed poised to fine-tune the positioning of Rihanna’s luxury house. Bastien Renard, who worked for Nike for 19 years in Europe and the United States, took over from longtime Louis Vuitton executive Véronique Gebel of its conscripted rtw department for the launch. It is understood that Renard is managing the liquidation and will take on a new assignment within LVMH.

LVMH had hinted that things were less than rosy at Fenty during the third quarter disclosure last October.

“On Fenty fashion, we are obviously still in a launch phase and we have to figure out exactly what the right offer is. It’s not something easy. We were starting entirely from scratch, “said at the time the CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony. “Obviously we have 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 gone less well, so you have to sort out the two and really decide what the strengths of the offer should be in the years to come.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty holds the titles of Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Fenty. Jean Baptiste Voisin, director of strategy at LVMH, oversaw the launch of the luxury fashion house, whose remaining offerings include $300 hoodies and $900 gladiator sandals.

Most of Rihanna’s clothes, sold mostly online at Fenty.com via see-now-buy-now drops, have leaned more towards the dressy, designer end of the spectrum.

It is understood that LVMH and Rihanna have not ruled out making a second run at a luxury house in the future, encouraged by the fact that it has been able to attract repeat customers, mainly wealthy professional women who also frequent d other luxury brands.

Others are skeptical.

“I feel like celebrity-spinned brands can be very popular very quickly, but their staying power is questionable,” said Luca Solca, luxury goods analyst at Bernstein.

He noted that LVMH’s business is built on enduring heritage brands, as evidenced by recent strong performances from Louis Vuitton and Dior.

“The idea of ​​using LVMH as a platform to incubate and launch smaller brands is fascinating in theory, but doesn’t seem to work in practice, at least this time around,” he said, noting that the pandemic certainly didn’t help. “Beauty may be a different story, as Sephora has worked successfully as a mother ship for the launch and development of smaller beauty brands. full fashion.

Rihanna and her models behind the scenes

Rihanna and her models behind the scenes.
Kuba Dabrowski/WWD

Rihanna has demonstrated a serious interest and influence in fashion – as well as formidable design chops and keen instincts – with her three-year stint as creative director of Puma, energizing the German sportswear brand with her project Fenty by Puma, and after with successful forays into beauty and lingerie – the first with Kendo controlled by LVMH.

Kendo, which operates as an incubator making products that end up being retailed by LVMH’s Sephora perfumery chain and other outposts, signed with Rihanna in 2016. Her Fenty Beauty products have seen sales of over of $100 million within weeks, and has been hailed as a transformative brand.

Rihanna’s closeness to LVMH dates back to at least 2015. After attending shows for Christian Dior, one of Arnault’s most treasured fashion properties, she appeared in “Secret Garden IV”, a campaign and a short film shot by Steven Klein in Versailles. She wore Dior sunglasses, carrying the brand’s bags and wearing looks from the Esprit Dior collection.

A year later, she created a range of futuristic sunglasses in collaboration with Dior as part of its brand ambassador.

Rihanna’s talent and beauty have made her a favorite of fashion designers around the world. The Barbados native has previously modeled for Gucci, Emporio Armani and Balmain.

She made her design debut in 2013 with British brand River Island, creating a collection of clothing and accessories.

See also:

Fenty hires new CEO

Rihanna Talks Savage x Fenty Fall 2020 Collection

How Rihanna built her fashion and beauty empire

WATCH: Inside Rihanna’s fashion career