The end of last week brought news that Rihanna and LVMH have decided to pause her luxury FENTY brand. This means that the brand is halting production indefinitely. FENTY made history as being the first luxury brand to be led by a Black woman. FENTY’s owner, LVMH is citing COVID-19 as the reasoning behind the halt. Rihanna liked to physically be a part of the design process as much as possible. Unfortunately, that is almost impossible to do safely during a pandemic. While that is partially true, the FENTY brand had a few other glaring issues that were a time bomb away from being exposed. The marketing strategy, its content, and Fenty overload were the real reasons for FENTY’s untimely expiration.
Most people are blaming the price point for FENTY’s demise. FENTY had a comparable price point for a luxury brand. Regardless of who Rihanna’s fan base is, the brand shouldn’t have been forced to fit into that space. The marketing strategy is where the issue lied. Rihanna’s initial plan was to have products dropping constantly, similar to fast fashion. Typically, high fashion has seasonal releases. The problem? People that buy luxury fashion, aside from influencers, are not shopping from only one brand that frequently. The fast-fashion strategy is very difficult to recreate in the luxury market. It takes longer to create a quality garment. Fast fashion can skimp on finishing seams and sewing correctly because the expectation is that these things are going to fall apart just in time for the next launch. Nobody wants to spend $1000 on a garment that will do the same as the $20.
The second reason FENTY failed was the content of the brand. Accessories are the bread and butter for most fashion lines. Just look at Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. Clothing simply does not pull in the same revenue that shoes or a bag does. FENTY’s initial launch did include accessories, however, the forefront was the clothing. Each subsequent launch after the initial one focused on the clothing. It is almost impossible to turn a profit with the amount of clothing FENTY released. The sunglasses were the shining star for the brand. Most of the jewelry seemed a bit dated and the shoes had sizing issues. Rihanna is a risk-taker when it comes to fashion. Similarly, with SavageXFenty’s initial release, FENTY just did not feel innovative. Introducing some leather products could have been beneficial. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 constraints, FENTY was not given the space to pivot.
Finally, Fenty overload doomed the brand. Rihanna has Fenty Skin, Fenty Beauty, and SavageXFenty. While that in and of itself is not an issue, FENTY only had one name. As a result, going directly to the FENTY website was almost impossible. Having to use a search engine to find FENTY severely ruined the shopping experience. FENTY.com should have been a comprehensive website. Having all the brands housed on one domain that the customer can switch through effortlessly. Another way to avoid this issue was to call the website something else. For example, FENTY Luxe or FENTY Couture just for the website would have brought shoppers where they needed to be the first time around. Instead, she overshadowed herself at a detrimental cost to the brand itself.
Only time will tell if FENTY will actually make a return. Ideally, Rihanna and LVMH will take this time to regroup and come back stronger. A focus on leather goods and accessories could be the saving grace. Also instead of a bunch of rushed launches, having 6-8 releases a year would be more plausible for the brand. Finally, figuring out the website situation so that FENTY does not get lost among its other namesake brands. The fashion industry is difficult enough to maneuver without these missteps. FENTY can bounce back and become better than ever.