Rihanna is a powerhouse female R&B artist known not only for her music, but also for her style, personal brand, and social activism. She is one of the few celebrities who is loved by nearly everyone, and rightfully so. She is not afraid to make a statement or stand up for the things that she believes in. Lately Rihanna has been making her impact on the world through her Savage X Fenty lingerie brand.
Since its launch in May 2018, Savage X Fenty has consistently reinforced that everybody belongs on the runway regardless of their shape, size, race, or gender. Fenty has revolutionized not just the lingerie industry– an industry that is not known for its diversity and inclusion– but the fashion industry as a whole. Rihanna’s goal through her brand is to have everyone feel seen and be represented in an industry that has historically been defined by unrealistic and unrepresentative beauty standards.
Fenty’s most recent runway show was released for viewers October 3rd on Amazon Prime. This show has made the greatest statement of all, especially because of its public exposure through such a popular streaming platform. The iconic image of Rihanna and the models featured in the show flooded social media platforms, projecting the message that this is the new standard for modern runway.
The show included a wide variety of models of all races, ages, shapes, sizes, genders, and backgrounds. Rihanna also took this opportunity to debut her men’s collection with the help of Chritian Combs, son of Sean “Diddy” Combs, which was made up of eleven underwear and sleepwear pieces. Some notable features included Bella Hadid, Indya Moore, Shea Coulée, Lizzo, Demi Moore, Cara Delevigne, and Big Sean.
In an interview with People Magazine prior to the release of the show, Rihanna said “Inclusivity has always been a part of our brand. That’s not a ‘right now’ thing. It’s sad that it’s right now for most brands… I feel great that there are women that are feeling like they see themselves on stage for the first time. And if we can continue to expand on that, we’ve done more than we really started out trying to do.” In a world where we are moving towards diversity and inclusion of all people, Rihanna is making a statement showing that she believes every single body is beautiful no matter what it looks like and is practicing what she preaches through her brand.
It’s evident that the lingerie industry has lacked diversity and representation. It is an aspect of the fashion industry that has been rampant with sexualization geared towards satisfying the male gaze, rather than making women feel empowered and beautiful. For many years, Victoria’s Secret has been the leading lingerie brand on the market. But in the past few years, their brand has taken a hit not just financially but also to their reputation. Victoria’s Secret was built on the idea of showcasing women of one size and a similar image in lingerie, with very little diversity. The brand was known for their push up bra and the famous Victoria’s Secret fashion show. This show has come under criticism in recent years for its lack of diversity and its perpetuation of the idea that you need to look a certain way to wear lingerie. Bella Hadid, someone who had modeled for Victoria’s Secret for years, said about the Fenty show, “For me, that was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy. Because when I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear.”
Savage X Fenty has had a huge impact on the Victoria’s Secret brand. Victoria’s Secret canceled their flagship fashion show in 2019 for the reasoning that they did not believe network television was the right fit for their brand, and that their viewership had been steadily declining; a decision that was socially long overdue. Their viewership wasn’t the only thing declining, but their sales as well. Victoria’s Secret is still America’s biggest lingerie seller, but their market share has dropped drastically going from 32% in 2013 to 17.7% in 2019. This drop is a reflection of the changing climate in lingerie and in fashion. Victoria’s Secret is going to have to make a large effort to alter their brand in order to keep themselves afloat. They have begun to make some of these changes, but it is very clear that this revolution was prompted by brands like Savage X Fenty. Savage X Fenty’s sales have increased consistently since their launch and have more than doubled each month between February and August 2020 and predicted to continue in this manner.
The Savage X Fenty brand reflects the changing social climate– one where women are empowered, not sexualized, and where every single body is represented regardless of shape, size, age, race, or gender. Rihanna says everybody is beautiful, and so should you.