Rihanna, LVMH suspend Fenty fashion brand as pandemic batters clothing demand

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LVMH and Rihanna are suspending the ready-to-wear operations of Fenty, the pop singer’s brand, less than two years after its debut as the pandemic pummels demand for clothing.

“Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to put on hold the ready-to-wear activity, based in Europe, pending better conditions,” the French luxury conglomerate said in a statement Wednesday.

Fenty was launched to great fanfare in May 2019 and represented a rare effort by LVMH to build a new fashion brand from scratch. The luxury giant has typically focused on acquiring businesses with prestigious legacies, whether it’s handbag maker Louis Vuitton or Champagne producer Moet & Chandon.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, L Catterton, the private equity fund backed by LVMH founder and billionaire Bernard Arnault, led a $115 milion series B funding along with other investors into Savage X Fenty, Rihanna’s lingerie brand.

The funds will help power the underwear business’s next phase of growth and enable its retail expansion after it experienced an “explosive” rise in revenue in the past year, the fund’s statement said. The goal is to support “the Fenty ecosystem focusing on lingerie, cosmetics and skincare,” according to LVMH.

“Celebrity-originated brands can be very popular very quickly, but their staying power is questionable,” Luca Solca, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said by e-mail. “The risk is that they end up being a flash in the pan.”

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty make-up brand has 10.5 million followers on Instagram, compared with one million for Fenty ready-to-wear. The pandemic has impacted the personal luxury goods sector differently, with the apparel category suffering the most, according to a study by Bain consultants.

“We are still in a launching phase and we have to figure out exactly what is the right offer,” LVMH Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony told analysts about Fenty in October. “It’s still a work in progress.”

Women’s Wear Daily first reported the suspension of Fenty’s ready-to-wear operations.

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