Known as a fashion icon and 3x Vogue cover girl, Rihanna now has an official role in the fashion industry. Following a three year decline in net earnings, Puma has hired Rihanna, CFDA’s Fashion Icon laureate, as the new women’s creative director. Rihanna could be a really good fit for the company, as she is often seen mixing athletic wear with high fashion. The outfit that she wore to the announcement? An ivory vintage satin bustier with long strands of pearls around her neck, a Yves Saint Laurent hooded sweater, ivory track pants, and a pair of Puma sneakers with a crepe sole. This is how Rihanna does Puma.
After all, true authenticity is what counts when a brand forms a bond with a celebrity. Even Kanye West can vouch for that, when he claimed “it’s ridiculous to just give anyone or any celebrity a creative director role. It’s about connecting the right people with the right company.” At Cannes 2014, Kanye stated that he was fed up of brands trying to “rent” him as a spokesperson as opposed to actually working with him. It’s true, many celebrity/brand partnerships do end up failing. Think back to Alicia Keys and Blackberry, when the singer was caught tweeting from her iPhone.
In 2010, Halston brought Sarah Jessica Parker on as president and chief creative officer, a deal that only lasted about a year and a half. She later suggests that “she was brushed aside by more powerful male executives who were only interested in using her fame to front the brand.” She has since gone on to design her own line of shoes with the CEO of Manolo Blahnik. She must know what she is doing because they won the Footwear News Launch of the Year Award. It’s clear that many of these brands are depending on their celebrity counterparts to revive their declining popularity, when really the issues lie deeper. This is not Rihanna’s first time at the designer’s lunch table. She has done a few co-designed collections for River Island, the UK fast fashion retailer. Do you think Rihanna’s cache and design ability will help Puma’s sales in the long term?