Rihanna is known the world over and rarely a day goes by when the mainstream media doesn’t reference her in some form. But this time, she’s making history as the first black woman (and the youngest person overall) to launch a fashion brand under the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) conglomerate. In another historical win, this is also the first time that LVMH has started a brand from scratch, since the introduction of Christian Lacroix’s brand in 1987. Taking after her ubiquitous last name, the Fenty brand is joining the ranks of Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, and Dior, beginning with its inaugural collection released last May 24 in Paris.
For those who have been following the artist and entrepreneur for some time, the Fenty brand is nothing new. In the past two years, Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty made waves for breaking the boundaries of commercial inclusivity. While certainly worthy of praise, this same reputation for inclusivity is what’s causing criticism for Fenty right now.
Despite the backlash, Fenty’s release is a landmark moment in fashion. Although the body positivity movement has been gaining momentum, the high fashion world hasn’t exactly shown signs of cooperation. Instead, luxury labels have refused to extend their sizes, or hire more diverse models. Rihanna’s Fenty line is putting an end to that, proving that body positivity and luxury fashion can co-exist.
Alongside the singer-slash-entrepreneur’s eponymous label, more fashion retailers are also challenging beauty standards. Regardless of price points, they’re asserting the universal right to size inclusivity. For instance, Universal Standard has lived up to its name with a radical 00-40 size range since launching in 2015. Their all-encompassing line of workwear, denim, activewear, and loungewear is made to flatter not just every size, but also every body type. Additionally, the wide range of size-inclusive dresses on Woman Within are a testament to the variety of clothing options currently available for women. The rise of brands that cater exclusively towards plus-sized women is an important step in ensuring that fashion reflects the world it operates in rather than setting impossible standards.
While the Fenty line is making headlines partly due to Rihanna’s star appeal and the brand’s inclusion under the LVMH umbrella, there are other high-fashion designers who, like Rihanna, are bridging inclusivity and luxury fashion. Dima Ayad is a fashion house based out of Dubai whose garments are made for larger women, with the aesthetic leaning towards modest sophistication versus the jersey body-con dresses that lots of plus-sized models tend to wear.
All these efforts, no matter how big or small, are a step towards a more accepting and body-positive industry. While we have a long way to go, a future where all women can walk with confidence and assurance doesn’t seem too bleak. Gone are the days of the same blouses and baggy jeans offered by a select few retailers; the fashion world is slowly changing its tune, and we’ll be all the better for it.