Rihanna is readying her next step toward world domination and we are carefully following her every move. Earlier this month, Bad Gal Ri Ri confirmed that she was working with French luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, or LVMH, to launch a new fashion brand — the first for the label since Christian Lacroix debuted in 1987. This is a huge deal for our girl. Not only is she the first woman to helm a luxury brand at LVMH, Black or otherwise, she is also the youngest.
Rihanna introduced her first fashion collection for the Fenty label on May 24 in Paris.
But as information surrounding the launch began to circulate, it didn’t take long before people on the Internet began to question the price of the items. Gossip website Popdust called Rihanna’s line classist, tweeting “luxury clothing line claims to target the “modern woman”—but the typical modern woman can’t afford a $200 dollar #FENTY T-shirt.” In an article accompanying the tweet, the writer claims not to be surprised by the pricing as Fenty is a part of a “luxury goods company parented by Christian Dior.” So then what exactly is the problem?
The issue of pricing often seems to come up with Black designers. We saw a similar rhetoric with Pyer Moss, when designer Kerby Jean-Raymond sold a $300 USD T-shirt. Critics attacked the CFDA Award winner for selling his designer tee at a price point that’s actually pretty standard for luxury brands. One social media user pointed out the hypocrisy, saying: “Y’all really still complaining about the price of our @pyermoss tee when most luxury brands tees can easily start at $300 plus. Note-no one complained when Dior released the – “We Should All Be Feminist” tee which retailed at $710. In fact y’all bought it up.”
Likewise, during the season two premiere of Insecure, Issa Rae’s character wore a red crew-neck that had the Internet scrambling for details. The n***as sweatshirt Rae wears is from New York-based label Omondi, a small, indie brand run by Recho Omondi. “We had taken it off the website after Black History Month, so there were people who’d missed out that still really wanted it,” Omondi told Refinery29 back in 2017. She also fielded complaints about the price point. “A few people were disgruntled by the retail price, so we adjusted it a bit— but it costs what it costs.”
Since this kind of pricing backlash usually occurs when the designer is black, it’s easy to see how these complaints can be interpreted as coded racism. It’s a way of asking who truly deserves to be included in the luxury space. By questioning a price point that you’d never second guess with other high-end brands, you’re sending a message that black luxury designers don’t belong. Here’s hoping Fenty will inspire a shift toward greater inclusivity in fashion — luxury fashion included.