And just like that, Fenty might be no more. On Wednesday, it was reported that Rihanna’s LVMH-backed luxury fashion label was halting its operations, just two years after debuting. “Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to put on hold the [ready-to-wear] activity, based in Europe, pending better conditions,” LVMH said a statement. According to WWD's sources, a handful of Fenty staff members will continue working out of the brand’s Paris headquarters as they “wind down remaining operations.” The brand’s e-commerce site, which is where most of its distribution comes from, will be turned off.
This news arrives just four months after the release of LVMH’s third-quarter sales, which showed that the brand was underperforming. “We are still in a launching phase and we have to figure out exactly what is the right offer,” said LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony at the time. “It’s not something that is easy. We were starting entirely from scratch.” A pandemic that left many fashion businesses struggling certainly hasn’t made matters any easier.
At the same time that Rihanna and LVMH were announcing the pause on the luxury line, Savage x Fenty, Rihanna's wildly popular line of lingerie, announced that it’d secured $115 million in funding from a number of investors — including private equity firm L Catterton, in which LVMH has a large stake — that will “support the company’s rapid growth and upcoming expansion into retail,” according to a press release. LVMH confirmed the news of the fundraising round in the statement announcing Fenty's closure: "LVMH and Rihanna reaffirm their ambition to concentrate on the growth and the long-term development of Fenty ecosystem focusing on cosmetics, skincare, and lingerie."
In today’s retail landscape, it comes as no surprise that Rihanna’s accessible and industry-disrupting brands would outperform Fenty — a brand with price tags, which range from $300 sunglasses to $800 denim dresses, that made it unattainable for the average consumer. In a time when unemployment rates are at an all-time high, many can’t afford to buy luxury items, no matter how much they idolise — and want to support — the designer behind them. Affordable, quality, and inclusive items — including lingerie and beauty products — are things they will buy.
Allegedly, another go at a luxury fashion house like Fenty isn’t off the table for LVMH and Rihanna, with WWD citing that the brand’s “ability to attract repeat customers, mostly professional, high-net-worth women who buy other luxury brands,” was promising. The two entities also allegedly have other projects "in the pipeline.”
The news of Fenty’s shutdown follows a year of retail closures due to the pandemic, with luxury labels (Sies Marjan) and fashion-forward indie retailers (Need Supply and Totokaelo), department stores (Lord & Taylor and Century 21), and long-standing retail stores (JCPenney) alike being forced to shutter most of, if not all, their doors for good.