Victoria’s Secret might be the brand most Americans are searching for online, but Rihanna’s sexy, size-inclusive startup is quickly nipping at its heels.
On Wednesday, digitally native Savage X Fenty announced a Series B funding round that raised $115 million to fuel its incursion into retail, just two years after its debut. The pop-star-cum-fashion-mogul’s Southern California-based lingerie label says revenue surged 200 percent last year, while its roster of active VIP members—consumers who pay a subscription fee in exchange for discounts and exclusives—is up 150 percent.
Rihanna has harnessed her massive popularity and social following (90 million fans on Instagram alone) into a movement championing diversity, equality and boundary-breaking in beauty and fashion. After making waves with Fenty Beauty’s wide range of foundation shades designed for the fairest and deepest skin tones, the Bajan chanteuse inked a buzzy deal with LVMH in 2019 to helm a maison making ready-to-wear designer fashion, though the pair pressed pause on that arrangement Wednesday, citing business conditions.
Instead, the luxury titan-backed L Catterton Growth Fund led what Savage X Fenty described as the “heavily oversubscribed” Series B, which also garnered funds from existing investors Marcy Venture Partners, co-founded by Jay-Z, and Avenir. Newcomers Sunley House Capital, the “crossover fund” of Advent International, joined the round as well.
“Following the completion of a fundraising round where L Catterton has taken a stake into Savage X Fenty, LVMH and Rihanna reaffirm their ambition to concentrate on the growth and the long-term development of Fenty ecosystem focusing on cosmetics, skincare and lingerie,” the private equity firm said in a statement Wednesday. “In the meantime, Rihanna and LVMH have jointly made the decision to put on hold the ready-to-wear activity, based in Europe, pending better conditions.”
Though Savage X Fenty managed to come out of 2020 on top as much of the apparel sector struggled, attaining the next stage of growth will take new resources and expertise. That’s why Natalie Guzman and Christiane Pendarvis, co-presidents of Savage X Fenty, stressed the importance of aligning with “partners who not only have a deep understanding of our business and customer base, but share our ambitious vision for Savage X Fenty and have the operational know-how to work with us to achieve it.”
And whereas legacy labels like Victoria’s Secret rely on a stagnant image and exclusive sizing, Rihanna’s startup turns stereotypes on their head. “This brand is a home, a hub and a safe space for everyone—regardless of shape, size, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation,” she said in a statement. “It is a representation of all and a validation that everyone is beautiful no matter what.”
Jon Owsley, co-managing partner of L Catterton’s Growth Fund, pointed to a “unique balance” of easy-wearing style, wallet-friendly prices and trend-right fashion as some of the factors fueling Savage X Fenty’s “remarkable success” in “disrupting the intimates category.”
“We believe the opportunities ahead for Savage X Fenty are enormous, and we look forward to leveraging our extensive experience in scaling digitally-native consumer brands and partnering with Rihanna, Christiane, Natalie, and the entire Savage X Fenty team to help the company realize its full potential,” he said, adding that standing for “inclusivity and diversity” has helped the brand differentiate itself by “building an extraordinary level of affinity and unmatched customer loyalty.”
With offerings ranging from daring to demure in sizes XS-3X and 30A-42H in bras, Savage X Fenty’s collection spans everything from sleep bralettes, crotchless leggings and fishnet slips to corsets, teddies, body stockings and even a few items for men.