The ‘Fenty Effect’: How Rihanna is Diversifying Industries

Fenty Beauty LVMH Brand

Transforming the Beauty Industry: Fenty Beauty

Black sells. Just take a look at Rihanna’s brand, Fenty Beauty. In just a month, the company made over US$100 million (~84.4 million Euros). But the fundamental problem isn’t in the foundation. It’s from the lack of diversity and awareness in the beauty industry.

Rihanna has long been successful with cultural fluidity, creating music that speaks to many cultures. Now, she is taking her skills to transform other industries. (Read more about Rihanna’s background here.)

50 different shades of foundation shown by a variety of women
Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Foundation ad campaign | Source: Fenty Beauty

In 2014, Rihanna registered the trademark for Fenty Beauty. Then, she spent over two years formulating and diversifying the product so it would suit all women. Finally, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in September 2017 at 29 years old. We learned in 2019 that LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton backed Rihanna. This gave her marketing advantages and marquee distribution in Sephora. On LVMH.com, LVMH called the launch of Fenty Beauty “the first-ever global beauty launch in history.”

Rihanna was inspired to create the brand after experimenting with beauty but still saw a gap for those hard-to-match skin tones. The line is for women of “all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included,” Rihanna explained at LVMH.com.

The Success of the ‘Fenty Effect’

To say Rihanna diversified the beauty industry is an understatement. She did not just create another “celebrity beauty brand.” Fenty Beauty has faces of color and different sizes, blowing apart unrealistic beauty ideals. And after one year, the brand made over 500 million Euros (~$592.5 million).

The brand launched with an impressive 40 foundation shades. Today, Rihanna’s line includes 50 shades of foundation, highlighters and lipsticks. Fenty Beauty was named TIME Magazine’s Top 25 Inventions and won the WWD Beauty Inc. Award for Digital Innovator of the Year in 2018. Other beauty lines began expanding their range of shades and in turn the industry is diversifying. This is known as the “Fenty Effect.”

So why was Rihanna’s brand so successful? For one, it emotionally connected with women who felt left out in other makeup lines. It also proved that people of color can be successful and seen by focusing on all women of all ethnicities. Overall, the beauty industry learned that without inclusivity and diversity, there is no growth strategy.

Rihanna at lingerie show promoting Savage Fenty

Inclusivity in the Fashion Industry: Savage X Fenty

In fall 2018, Rihanna launched Savage X Fenty at the end of fashion week. “The concept really is just about exploring and celebrating women and all different shapes and bodies and designing things that met that,” Rihanna told WWD after the show. The affordable and wide range of lingerie pieces has disrupted the market and rivals other long-standing brands such as Victoria’s Secret. On Savage X Fenty’s website, the brand states that it celebrates “fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity.” Savage X Fenty now has a $1 billion (~844 million Euro) valuation and has broadened what the fashion industry sees as “beautiful.”

In May 2019, Rihanna made history by announcing a luxury house with ready-to-wear, leather goods with none other than LVMH. She is the first black woman to head a brand owned by the fashion conglomerate. At the end of that year, Rihanna received the Urban Luxe Award at the British Fashion Awards.

“Rihanna has made an empire out of putting an emphasis on making sure that any person of all genders and body types can feel confident in an article of lingerie she sells on Savage X Fenty’s site,” said WMagazine. She also is looking to launch a furniture line in the future with the same goal she faces in all her projects – something fresh everyone can feel confident and relate to.

For a full timeline of Rihanna’s fashion career, click here.


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