Even Rihanna Could Not Weather the Retailpocalypse

Illustration for article titled Even Rihanna Could Not Weather the Retailpocalypse
Image: JP Yim (Getty Images)

What does it say about the current climate of Parisian runways that fashion mega-conglomerate LVMH, which owns brands from Louis Vuitton and Dior, believes more in Rihanna’s power to sell makeup and bras than it does in her ability to push luxury ready-to-wear?

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Well, that nobody buys clothes anymore, for a start.

Women’s Wear Daily reports that LVMH—short for Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy—has made the decision with founder Rihanna to shutter her fashion brand Fenty, which she launched in 2019. The outlet reports that a “skeleton” crew will remain in Paris to close up work on the short-lived house, which ceased posting on Instagram on January 1. The site will also close by month’s end, as production on its current line has stopped completely.

In a statement to the outlet, a spokesperson for LVMH said: “Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to put on hold the RTW activity, based in Europe, pending better conditions.”

“Pending better conditions” might mean an end to the coronavirus pandemic, or a luxury fashion market where there is still an appetite for high-priced clothing. In November, Business of Fashion reported on a study showing that sales were set to plummet by 23 percent in 2020, after in-person shopping ground to a halt and various high-profile brands closed their operations. Most notably, storefronts at all price points—like Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, and J. Crew—filed for bankruptcy last year. Even before the pandemic, beloved mid-luxury retailer Opening Ceremony filed for bankruptcy and closed all its stores, a development many saw as the warning sign of a coming “retailpocalypse.”

The good news for Rihanna, however, is that LVMH has doubled down on efforts to sell her luxury makeup, skincare, and loungewear. WWD reports that the duo “decided to make priorities and focus on Fenty’s high flying U.S. based ecosystem.” Sources for the outlet claim that her recently launched Fenty Skin might have sold more than $30 million in product since debuting July 31, a number that makes perfect sense with the continued success of her makeup offerings.

With or without her fashion mainline, Rihanna will be fine, by the looks of it. Sources tell WWD that she might even branch into athleisure next, through Savage x Fenty. For the especially despondent about this news, at least there’s that to look forward to.

DISCUSSION

olivianewtonjohn
olivianewtonjohn

But the fashion—the RTW—was not her “mainline.” The lingerie and beauty are. The Ready to Wear wasn’t very well thought through—the price point was way too high for her fan base ($250 crop tops and $700 t-shirt dresses). It was always a nonstarter. Getting into loungewear and athleisure, though? She’ll make bank.