At this very moment someone, somewhere, is listening to Rihanna’s music, while perusing the latest Fenty x Puma collection, donning a full face of dewy Fenty foundation, and smelling of Rogue by Rihanna perfume. Although there’s no way to prove this, one thing is for sure: Rihanna has infiltrated the lifestyles of fans around the globe with an extensive catalog of music, apparel, beauty and fragrance products that cater to all five major senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and Rihanna’s magic touch.
The distinctive reign of Rihanna
The 29-year-old Barbadian entertainer’s multimillion-dollar brand should not be mistaken for just another empire featuring a celebrity figurehead. In the curation of her products and music, Rihanna is known to be integrally involved in every aspect. She offers business partners an adept level of creativity and a business savvy that has suited her well over a 15-year career. What’s most impressive about RiRi’s reign is that she’s accomplished these milestones with a strict formula of diversity, inclusivity, practicality and functionality.
Rihanna has built a brand that thrives off of otherness and innovation. This is most visibly displayed in her partnership with athletic-wear brand Puma. Whereas many celebrities of her calibre choose to collaborate on niche capsule collections or design luxury clothing made strictly for Paris runways, Rihanna set her sights on the athletic market. She partnered with a company that has an iconic history but an underwhelming presence with today’s streetwear-obsessed generation. Rihanna resurrected and popularised the iconic creeper shoe, and in the process, elevated Puma’s standing in contemporary street-style culture.
The Fenty x Puma strategy and aesthetic
The latest Fenty x Puma SS18 RTW collection, which showed last Tuesday during New York Fashion Week, stayed true to her blueprint, promoting diversity. The shades of models that walked down the runway almost equal the 40 shades available in Fenty Beauty’s Longwear Foundation. In adherence to Rihanna’s other stark principles of practicality and functionality, the range presents options for men and women participating in activities ranging from an active day of exercise to a casual night of dancing (model Taylor Hill sported a LBD, which was perfect for the occasion).
New York City’s Park Avenue Armory was the show ground as Fenty x Puma models navigated around pink sand dunes that served as casual speed bumps for BMX drivers gliding over their dusty-pink slopes. The BMX-themed collection featured oversized nylon pants and Puma-branded compression tops designed in the bright hues that are synonymous with the sport. The collection also catered to the non-athlete. (There were off-the-shoulder tops and form-fitting mini dresses that not many women would be caught sweating in.)
Fenty Beauty: the deliberateness of RiRi
Just before the Fenty show, her cosmetic line, Fenty Beauty, made waves across the beauty industry and received top praises from beauty bloggers and make-up artists around the globe. The collection’s first official offering included makeup tools, highlighters, concealers, foundations and lipgloss. Again, operating under the premise of functionality, the line offers glittery and matte Match Stix that magnetise together and mini brushes that can be tucked in a purse as easily as a tube of lipstick. Price points are a nod to Rihanna’s sense of practicality – products range between $10 (about R132) and $34 (about R450), falling within the lower price range of top cosmetic companies.
Women of colour have particularly celebrated the release of Fenty Beauty for offering a wide range of foundation colours for darker-skin women (most of the shades currently sold out online are darker pigments). Rihanna has long acknowledged the importance of creating inclusive products and made it her mission to do just that. ‘Foundation is one of those areas in the beauty industry that has a big void for women at extreme ends of the shade spectrum,’ states Rihanna in a note on Fenty Beauty’s website. ‘And so, I wanted to make sure that women of all skin tones were covered so they could be included in what I created.’
The people spoke, and RiRi listened. Another benefit of Rihanna’s celebrity is her ability to connect and communicate with a diverse fanbase that market polls and focus groups have yet to reach. Through her music, philanthropy and multiple business ventures, Rihanna has experienced genuine exchanges with fans that has developed into a broad range of quality, thoughtfully curated goods. No matter how bad RiRi claims to be, the good that she is doing in her promotion of diversity, inclusivity, practicality and functionality set a new standard in every industry she touches.