As of the writing of this article, the super star Rihanna is establishing herself as a business polymath. You may know her as a Billboard mega-hits musician and more recently as the brainchild behind the Fenty cosmetics brand which captures the zeitgeist of diversity. LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the parent company of Dior, Givenchy and Fendi, is paying attention. Rihanna is reportedly in conversations with the iconic luxe fashion house to start a fashion brand. In 2017 when Rihanna launched her Fenty beauty brand at Sephora stores, it grossed $72 million in the first month, coinciding wth over 100 million YouTube views. Part of the Fenty brand's allure is its mix of science and marketing savvy to deliver a product which actually works on women whose skin hues range from espresso brown to café au lait tan- and thus makes them feel great. The other part? Well, Rihanna.
The beauty and fashion industry may be considered frivolous by those who know nothing about it. However, the marketing, logistics, and strategy skills that fashion firms put into play has caused more non-fashion firms to take stock. Applying fashion thinking sets your business apart by helping you to anticipate change, integrate technology and zig when everyone else is zagging.
In January 2019 LVMH announced that it may do a deal with Rihanna by backing her fashion brand. This is significant when you consider that she has no formal training as a fashion designer- and that there are several fashion designers of repute on the job market, including Stefano Pilati, Alber Elbaz, and Peter Copping. The potential partnership is also significant because Rihanna would be LVMH's first in house designer who is a woman of color.
The Rihanna-LVMH conversation highlights the following signals that matter to ensure your business stays relevant.
Style Is a Currency
The reason LVMH is boldly considering a non-fashion designer like Rihanna to complement its fashion arsenal is because it understands style's relevance and value. Style is your ability to curate and have a macro-systems view of what is complementary. Rihanna may not be a fashion designer, but her eye for what's relevant makes her a preeminent stylist who knows how to convert trends into financial value.
Unlikely Partnerships are Golden
Politics may make strange bedfellows, but now more than ever, so does business. We know that brand is more than logo, and it's been asserted for some time that a brand is a platform. Today people are brands and brands are platforms. The Rihanna-LVMH example points to the anthropomorphism of brands. It turns out that Tom Peters had quite a bit of foresght when he published "The Brand Called You" in 1997.
Social Media is EVERYTHING
If you don't have a social media presence, then partner with a company or individuals who do. LVMH can ride on the coattails of Rihanna's following (29 million Instagram followers and 89 million Twitter followers) and expand its reach.
Street Matters More than Elite
The veil is removed from the historic mystique and inaccessibly of couture. Take notes from an iconic couture fashion house like LVMH which is humbling itself to dismantle preconceptions and reinvent. Take seriously the value of the crowd and the street through new partnerships and open-sourcing.
Follow through on a couple of these tips, and let it never be said that you can't grow your business by paying attention to pop-culture.