It’s official – Rihanna is the latest celebrity to reach billionaire status.
However, despite being the woman behind eight best-selling studio albums and achieving record sales of over 250 million units, it isn’t her musical career that has allowed the singer to reach this coveted financial milestone.
Having taken a break from music over the past few years to focus on her other endeavours, the exponential growth and popularity of her Fenty brand has far surpassed her music career as Rihanna’s main source of financial success.
This is the inside story of how Fenty made Rihanna a billionaire.
The Brand Is Born
Since the start of her mainstream career in the mid-2000s, Robyn Fenty had been known to the world as Rihanna – singer, actress and all-round R&B superstar.
It’s not unusual for those who have already carved out success in the music industry to diversify their source of income by launching their own companies. Rihanna announced her own intentions to do this in 2017, after announcing the creation of her namesake cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty.
Launching officially in September of the same year, Rihanna received widespread praise for the incredible range of shades available in her collection of foundation and concealer products, offering 40 and 50 shades respectively. Other leading make-up brands had long been criticised for the lack of foundation and concealer shades made available for darker-skinned customers, often accused of neglecting their non-white consumers. For this reason, Fenty’s commitment to ensuring that every skin tone was catered for was seen as a breath of fresh air within the industry, leading to products selling out across the board and an overall shift in the way that other brands designed their range of shades. A range of forty shades has since become the new standard within the industry.
It wasn’t just her base make-up products that were a hit. Rihanna’s range of lip-glosses, also included within the initial launch, were praised for their non-sticky formula, high shine and vibrant range of shades. Right away, Fenty Beauty was an astounding success.
Savage X Fenty
A year on from the launch of Fenty Beauty and following several further successful make-up drops, Rihanna announced the launch of her lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty. The next step in Rihanna’s mission to revolutionise the way that fashion and beauty brands approach inclusivity, Savage X Fenty catered to men and women in a range of shapes, sizes and skin tones.
The brand was showcased in 2018 at New York Fashion Week, where the show received widespread acclaim and attention for its inclusion of plus-size models – a move that many similar brands of the time were yet to make.
Once again, Rihanna’s newest venture was undeniably a success. The exponential growth and popularity of the Savage X Fenty brand has even led to highly-anticipated annual showcases rivalling those of fellow leading lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret. Savage X Fenty shows have become synonymous with features from some of the biggest names in fashion and music, with Bella Hadid, Cara Delevigne, Normani, Lizzo, 21 Savage, Travis Scott and DJ Khaled all amongst those who have appeared on the Savage X Fenty runway over the last few years.
Rihanna’s next business venture took her into the world of luxury fashion, breaking new ground as she became the first black woman in history to head a premium fashion brand under the iconic LVMH (Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) group.
The Fenty fashion label was launched in May 2019, dropping a vast range of chic pieces all designed by Rihanna herself. The collection was made available worldwide online, as well as within a pop-up boutique in Paris, well and truly establishing Rihanna’s position as a top designer. The range was an immediate hit – but timing wasn’t quite on Fenty’s side this time.
Short of the brand’s first anniversary, it was announced that all new releases from the brand had been put on hold indefinitely due to the impact of COVID-19 on the designer fashion industry. This decision, according to Rihanna and LMVH, was reached by mutual agreement in order to allow Rihanna to continue her work on the Savage X Fenty lingerie line.
Despite this, all hope is not lost – given the success of early collections, many have speculated that it won’t be too long until the Fenty label makes its long awaited return.
Whether or not a new collection is on the horizon in the near future, the brand’s hiatus hasn’t done too much to affect Rihanna’s long-term success, as her billionaire status was announced last week. It seems that she’s looking to expand her brand, too, having released the Fenty skincare line in 2020 and registered the trademark for a potential Fenty Hair line earlier this year.
Of course, it’s possible that her next project won’t be within the business world at all. Ninth Rihanna album, anyone?
SEE MORE: Fenty Hair – Here’s What We Know So Far