Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty is making its presence known among the investor set. So is the lingerie and innerwear firm’s customer base.
“Primarily, it’s been women who are young and very diverse [shopping at the brand],” Natalie Guzman, co-president and chief marketing officer of Savage x Fenty, said during the ICR 2022 virtual retail conference Tuesday.
In fact, the average age of shoppers at Rihanna’s lingerie brand — which she co-created in 2018 with TechStyles Fashion Group, the same firm that launched Kate Hudson’s Fabletics — is 33, with 65 percent of shoppers between ages 18 and 35. Shoppers are also diverse: 35 percent Black, 30 percent white and 20 percent Latine.
“And although she has a moderate income, we have over 50 percent of her wallet share when it comes to intimates,” Guzman continued. “And she’s loving the product. The brand message is really resonating with her. She loves the fit and the content and the imagery that she’s seeing. And she’s also loving the value that we’re offering through our membership pricing.”
In its three-and-a-half-year lifespan, the intimates business continues to gain traction in the innerwear world, thanks in part to Rihanna’s star power (the brand now has 4.6 million followers on Instagram), as well as the megastar’s promise to deliver a bra and underwear brand for all body types.
The third installment of Rihanna’s much-watched fashion show, Savage x Fenty Vol. 3, which aired on Amazon Prime in September, featured models of various shapes, sizes, ages and skin tones. It also included pregnant models, models with physical disabilities and men modeling innerwear. Men’s basics were added to the Savage x Fenty assortment in September 2020, which executives said quickly sold out.
But celebrity star power aside, Savage has also been able to leverage data to help it grow, in terms of both target marketing and its influencer and ambassador program. Guzman explained that the brand gains access to advertise on each new brand ambassador and influencers’ social media handles when they partner with Savage.
“And that’s allowing us to expand our reach using their audience, as well as advertising to their followers,” she said. “In the top two tiers [of influencers] alone, we’re getting massive reach. Over 245 million [followers] in total. And when you add in that bottom tier, which is over 1,000 micro-influencers that we work with on a monthly basis, this is really giving us that opportunity to appeal to so many different types of women, or individuals in general, now that we’ve expanded into men’s and really go after that [total available market.]”
Although Savage, which spun off of TechStyle at the end of 2019 to become a stand-alone firm, has yet to release revenues or profit figures, Christiane Pendarvis, co-president and chief merchandise at Savage, said during Tuesday’s presentation that “disruptors are winning in gaining share within this [intimates] category. The growth that you see with brands like Savage are really outpacing the balance of the more established players within this industry.”
“Intimates in particular is a really attractive direct-to-consumer category,” she continued. “And that’s because there’s a high replenishment factor within the category. Women are shopping for underwear on average five to six times a year. Men are shopping at a similar frequency. So it’s a wardrobe staple that needs to be replenished. Once you’re able to get customer loyalty to your product, then you’re going to see a lot of natural repeat activity that happens in this category. When you think about the long-term growth potential around this brand, the sky, honestly, really is the limit.”
That explains why Savage is currently in expansion mode. Rumors began circulating in December 2020 that Rihanna and her team were courting potential investors to the tune of an additional $100 million in an effort to expand the Savage x Fenty business with activewear.
Then in early 2021, the Savage x Fenty business completed a $115 million series B round led by LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton to help the lingerie brand scale. Around the same time, it was revealed that Rihanna’s ready-to-wear partnership with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was being paused.
Most recently, the company said it would open its first brick-and-mortar store this month in Las Vegas, followed by four more throughout the year in Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
“We’re going to be doing retail differently,” Pendarvis said. “We know that this is a category where customers like to shop in person and physically try on apparel. So that’s an important avenue for us to provide that channel of distribution. Retail will give us the opportunity to better serve our current members, as well as acquire new customers. We’re taking our approach and leveraging the data that we have to build a competitive advantage with our model. So we were able to pick locations where we have a high density of existing VIPs and make sure that we have the appropriate foot traffic really to drive the top-line revenue of each new location.”
In addition, Pendarvis said the firm plans to expand into additional categories and new markets. Customer surveys found that shoppers are interested in things like Savage loungewear, swimwear, shapewear, home and unisex underwear, among other categories.
“These are things that we’re looking for on our roadmap to help us drive growth in the next several years,” Pendarvis explained. “And then there are additional reaches [in other countries around the world] that we just have not tapped into yet, at all, which is really expanding into the balance of Eastern Europe, as well as China. When you think about the opportunity behind retail and what that’s going to open up for us, as well as category expansion opportunity, as well as geography expansion opportunity, that pathway is very, very clear for us to continue to deliver very, very strong growth over the next several years. So the future looks savage and we are just getting started.”