Rihanna is taking her fashion icon status to the next level. The seven-time Grammy Award winner and CFDA’s Fashion Icon laureate has been named creative director of Puma. She is to oversee the sporting goods maker’s women’s line.
As part of a multi-year partnership with the activewear firm, Rihanna is to take a hands-on approach with Puma’s fitness and training line, including apparel as well as shoes.
The singer “will work with Puma to design and customize classic Puma styles as well as create new styles to add to the Puma product portfolio,” the company said on Tuesday.
She will also act as the company’s global brand ambassador, joining ranks with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, and football star striker Mario Balotelli, among others, while also fronting Puma’s ad campaign for fall 2015.
The singer has previously modeled for Gucci, Emporio Armani and Balmain.
“Signing Rihanna is a fantastic step for Puma,” said Puma’s chief executive officer Bjørn Gulden. “Her global profile, her charisma and individuality, her ambition – all these things make her a perfect ambassador for our brand. With a strong portfolio in football, running and motorsport, finding an inspiring partner for women’s training was very important. Rihanna was a natural choice for us. We’re delighted to have her as a partner, and we’re looking forward to what’s to come.”
The joint venture is the latest in a series of Puma’s efforts to boost sales and burnish its brand image. The activewear maker, which is controlled by French group Kering, is in the throes of a total makeover, eager to reposition itself as a performance sports brand “that also sells lifestyle,” according to Gulden. The company is keen to improve its distribution, launch new products and spend big on image and marketing, which is weighing on profits.
The company saw its net earnings decline for the past three years, but at last posted an improvement in sales in the third quarter of this year.
Although Puma declined to reveal the cost of the Rihanna pact, it is estimated that marketing efforts in the third quarter ate up 35 million euros of the company’s EBIT, or $46.4 million, at average exchange for the period, following the launch of the “Forever Faster” campaign, billed as the biggest media push in the company’s history.
Rihanna, who announced the partnership via social media, will likely put the world’s third-largest sporting goods maker — after Nike and next-door neighbor Adidas — ahead of its competitors … at least in the digital spheres.
The singer boats 14.1 million followers on Instagram and 38.3 million followers on Twitter. Known for her daring outfits — including a nearly nude crystal gown she wore to the CFDA Awards — Rihanna is no stranger to the fashion business.
The multi-tasking performer has done a collection with British high-street retailer River Island, which climaxed in a show during London Fashion Week, and struck a deal with MAC Cosmetics, the beauty giant’s first long-term creative relationship with a celebrity.