With a mega-successful cosmetics debut under her belt, rumor has it that global-pop-icon-turned-business-mogul Rihanna is setting her sights on lingerie.
WWD first reported that the Barbadian “Wild Thoughts” hitmaker is rumored to be a year deep into collaborating with TechStyle Group—the company behind Kate Hudson’s Fabletics brand and others—to launch a new intimates line, with samples already in production. Celebrity influence has been key to a number of TechStyle’s brands; Kim Kardashian West help co-launch ShoeDazzle, which the Group acquired in 2013.
In its 2017 Year in Fashion report, Lyst named Rihanna the top celebrity influencer, driving searches and sellouts for brands including Gucci, Off-White and Puma, with whom she co-created Fenty Puma by Rihanna.
What’s in question now is whether Rihanna’s rumored intimates brand will deliver the same level of diversity and inclusion she brought to Fenty Beauty, which offers 40 foundation shades to complement both the fairest and deepest of skin tones—hues traditionally ignored by the beauty industry, much as fashion routinely overlooks plus sizes. Including extended sizes in her rumored line of underpinnings would be both on brand for Rihanna’s commitment to diversity and a smart business move for TechStyle.
In fact, TechStyle Group CEO Adam Goldenberg told Apparel Magazine last fall that the company, which operates on a subscription model and counts more than 5 million VIP members, plans to be fully size inclusive going forward.
“Because we started with footwear, a lot of our customers were already a plus-size consumer. We wanted to launch with plus apparel from day one. But it’s hard: you need to have different technical designers, more or less twice the size of the design and technical team,” Goldenberg said in an interview with Apparel. “So we wanted to first make sure we got apparel right and then expand. But we did it because that’s what our customers want and we want to be a brand that’s inclusive for everybody. We recently added extended sizing for Fabletics, for example.
“Every new brand going forward, including a new line planned for 2018, is launching with plus on day one,” he added.
Rumblings over a potential TechStyle IPO began in late 2016, and Reuters reported in early 2017 that confidential negotiations valued the company at around $1.5 billion. To date, TechStyle has raised $300 million since its founding as JustFab in 2010 (it rebranded in 2016 to reflect its platform approach to tech and fashion).
If an IPO or sale is on the horizon, this rumored Rihanna collaboration an invaluable opportunity for TechStyle to attract new customers and strengthen its product portfolio in the event it goes public.
Though Fenty Beauty was an undisputed runaway hit, translating that success into intimates—whose domestic market worth was $7.93 billion as of 2016—isn’t necessarily a guaranteed slam-dunk, said Errol Glaser, a partner at investment banking firm Triangle Capital.
“Fit is very, very difficult,” Glaser said. “If they can get all of that right, then great. But it’s not a quick turnaround. You’ve got to take time and build the brand.”
Though TechStyle has achieved its success largely through a direct-to-consumer model, launching a product as fit-driven as intimates would benefit from a presence in stores. To date, the company operates 24 Fabletics stores.
However, online lingerie startup AdoreMe has been successful with the DTC, subscription approach, Glaser noted. A series of promotional pop-up shops would help TechStyle allay any concerns around the rumored lingerie line’s fit, quality and comfort, in addition to providing Insta-ready social media moments to build brand buzz.