Fenty Beauty has dominated the beauty industry this month. September 8, 2017, Robyn Rihanna Fenty unveiled her eponymously coined beauty venture that has every beauty blogger, vlogger, and publication buzzing. Rihanna is a smart business woman who has collaborated and created multiple business ventures in the past. With a net worth of over $230 million dollars, Rihanna is no stranger to product launches or success. Somehow, the Fenty Beauty venture held a lot more gravitas than a simple successful celebrity release. The Fenty Beauty cosmetics line attached itself to a gaping void within the beauty community. Fenty championed itself as a lone purveyor of inclusivity. Inclusion and diversity in shade range would be the primary focus of the Fenty Beauty debut.
Historically, beauty brands have not made inclusion a priority. Especially not on an initial product launch. In the past, it was quite common to see brands launch a new foundation line with 15 shades of basic Caucacity, 2 shades for anyone not white/not Black, and 3 shades for Black consumers. Foundation developers placed emphasis on the complex nuances of basic whiteness while “others” were given a very limited offering of “inclusion” aka, the shaft. Larger beauty brands like MAC, Esteé Lauder, & Lancôme developed their shade range over time. Some of these companies have been in business for decades but only recently got their shade range together within the last 5 to 10 years. The excuse has always been that it is challenging to capture all of the undertones associated with diverse skin tones without compromising the quality of the foundation & driving up the price of the product. Yet, Fenty Beauty invested 2 years into developing 40 different shades and attempted to conquer the “difficult task” of shade inclusion on their first ever launch?
Fenty’s focus on inclusion via a “foundation for all” approach has proven to be very successful. The product line was stocked in 1600 different stores across 70 countries. Deeper foundation shades sold out within hours of release. The company has restocked sold out items numerous times within the last 3 weeks. The official product revenues have not been released but the Fenty brand has been crowned with challenging the status quo of the beauty industry. The mere fact that the deeper skin tones sold out & restocked several times within in a 3-week time frame is just a testament to Fenty’s innovation. Beauty store vendors have been notorious for not stocking deeper tones because they believe that deeper tones “don’t sell.” Also, celebrity product launches are usually the epitome of exclusive. The first 300,000 customers ( amounts vary) are usually the only people to get the product and then the item is usually discontinued or paused (shot out to the Kardashians, they live for this approach). Rihanna’s approach to beauty is saying, “we are here for you and we are here to stay.” The Rihanna Navy and friends have come running to this beckoning call with cash in hand & social media guns a blazing for anyone who tries to sully the Fenty name.
Competing beauty brands seem to be “shook.” Some competing brands are sprinkling in deeper toned models on their Instagrams and websites in efforts to show that they too are inclusive. Then there are the brands that have developed shade range throughout the years that are scrambling to remind people that they have been inclusive. Most recently the brand Make Up Forever found out just how hard the Rihanna Navy goes when they proclaimed that “40 shades is nothing new to us…” The company attempted to let Instagram know that they developed 40 shades of foundation in 2015. The Rihanna Navy only heard hateration & went into full force attack mode. Fans of Rihanna & Fenty beauty are protective over the brand because many feel that this is the first time a mainstream beauty line effectively represented them. Fenty beauty is not the first to offer diverse shade range. Nor is the company the first to talk about inclusion on the internet. However, Fenty made inclusion a focal point of their complexion products and marketing thus positioning the brand as innovator coming through to “shake shit up” in the beauty industry. “The new future of the beauty industry…” The position that Fenty took straight out of the gate is consistent with Bad Gal Ri Ri’s image in Fashion, Movies, & Music. Rihanna has always pushed the envelope in everything that she does; it is part of her overall brand identity. Brands that are trying to get some “me too” coin forget that on the internet, perceived authenticity is essential to great content.
As fans continue to become part of the “Fenty Family” more & more critiques of the brand emerge. Many critics are reminding people that Rihanna is merely a partner to Kendo brands & LVMH, which does not make Fenty a truly “Black Owned Makeup Brand.” Others are reminding people that Rihanna’s inclusion kick is nothing more than slick marketing. Then there are those who feel that the product is overhyped & only receiving fanfare because it is a celebrity-backed beauty line. At the core of it, beauty is nothing more than base minutiae in the face of today’s political, economic, environmental, & social climates. Fenty beauty managed to align their product line with a conversation worthy issue that is often silenced within the beauty space. Lack of diversity & lack of inclusion is pretty much seen in every industry across cultures. The lack of diversity & inclusion, are side effects of systemic racism & supremacy. Rihanna has positioned her products as a weapon against the isms & historical norms of the beauty industry. Whether you hate Fenty Beauty or Love Fenty Beauty, the current positioning of the brand will outshine all comparisons & critiques. Fenty Beauty will remain.
Have you tried Fenty Beauty? Do you think that the mainstream beauty industry would be having conversations about inclusion if Fenty had not made it the focal point of their marketing? Sound off in the comments and let #TeamTrueStory know what you Think!