Comfort Over Couture: The Rise of Fenty Lingerie and the Fall of Fenty Luxury

If the pandemic taught the fashion industry one thing, it is that lingerie is in, and luxury is out. 

On Feb. 10, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury group, announced that they had put Rihanna’s Fenty fashion collection - Fenty Maison - on hold to focus their efforts on developing other Fenty associated ventures, including the Savage X Fenty lingerie line.

Fenty Maison, which debuted in May 2019, is only the second luxury fashion house LVMH has ever attempted to build from scratch. It is also their first brand led by a Black woman. For a number of reasons, it did not end up being as successful as the luxury conglomerate hoped it would be, and this is due to a multitude of reasons. 

Fenty Maison attempted to create an immersive experience for their buyers by debuting their collections using retail events rather than fashion shows. However, this meant that they did not receive the same attention as a collection would normally receive during regularly scheduled seasonal events.

Moreover, Fenty Maison struggled to define itself, with its signature hip cutouts on different types of apparel probably being its only distinctive pieces. Otherwise, its merchandise being produced didn’t evolve significantly from its initial launch, and it didn’t help that Rihanna couldn’t travel to Paris from the U.S. to assist with the design process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The garments and accessories presented in the Fenty collection were priced in the entry designer category, which is typically not the most affordable. For example, some T-shirts were as expensive as $180 and some denim jackets were upwards of $940. Due to the pandemic, many customers were unwilling to commit to that price point on experimental luxury brands. If customers were to buy luxury goods, they would purchase from brands they trusted, such as Dior or Chanel.

More broadly, 2020 was the worst year in modern history for the luxury sector, with LVMH’s profits declining roughly a third from 2019 to 2020. However, there is a good chance that all of these brands could see a rise in profits soon as more people get vaccinated and begin to return to their normal routines. 

Nonetheless, LVMH did make it known that the production of Rihanna’s Fenty label has only been put on pause. It is not officially closed down, and there is a chance that it could be revisited in the future.

On a somewhat brighter note, LVMH helped fundraise $115 million early last week for Savage X Fenty, the lingerie extension of Rihanna's Fenty brand. This encouraging news was quickly eclipsed by Savage X Fenty reaching a $1 billion valuation on Wednesday. This valuation places Savage X Fenty on track to outdo its top competitor, Victoria’s Secret. (Victoria’s Secret was valued at $1.1 billion in February 2020 before being taken private due in part to a sharp drop in sales and struggling business model.) 

LVMH broadly positioning to fill the gap that Victoria’s Secret will inevitably leave behind due to the brand's recent struggles, and Savage X Fenty is the perfect brand to fill that gap. Savage X Fenty’s shows are diverse, garnering praise from those who criticized Victoria’s Secret’s fashion shows in the past. (The VS fashion show shut down after its 2018 production due to budget cuts and calls for more body and gender diversity.) 

Moreover, Savage X Fenty is a brand made by women for women. As Rihanna herself puts it, Savage X Fenty’s “lingerie is about celebrating your body," and it could become the body-positive lingerie that many claim consumers are looking for. There's no need to fit a Victoria's Secret “fantasy” to look and feel great in Rihanna's diverse selection of lingerie sizes and styles.

Savage X Fenty is the future of affordable lingerie, easily bought by a stroke of a keyboard while late-night shopping, hoping to manifest a date through a sexy purchase. You can bet Savage X Fenty will soon be as much a part of pop culture as Victoria’s Secret was in the mid-2000s. LVMH may be shutting down Fenty’s luxury line for the time being, but no need to worry; the future is full of Fenty.