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How Savage X Fenty celebrates fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity

Retail Gets Real episode 297: Christiane Pendarvis of Savage X Fenty on how Rihanna’s lingerie brand is ‘For Every Body’

Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty, is like the cool girl at the party, according to Christiane Pendarvis, co-president/chief merchandising and design officer for the brand.

“We did this one set of customer research where we asked customers — as well as people who had not bought the brand but were aware of us — what they thought about us,” Pendarvis says on this week’s episode of NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast, recorded live at NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show in New York City. “And they said, ‘Savage is the cool girl at the party, but that everybody likes.’ That’s kind of our culture … we’re fun. We’re tongue in cheek. We’re cool.”

NRF 2023

Did you miss us in NYC? Take a look at our NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show event recap.

Over her 25-year retail career, Pendarvis has worked in all aspects of specialty apparel, including merchandising, product development and general management. But Savage X Fenty represented a new and unique opportunity in the marketplace along with a value proposition that “authentically stands for diversity and inclusivity.”

Not only does the Savage X Fenty website feature models of all shapes and sizes, but every product and style is developed in a misses version and a separate plus-size version. “We do twice the development work,” Pendarvis says. “And it’s because we want to stand for confidence and empowerment, which means that regardless of your size, my product needs to fit every single customer that I’m servicing equally the same.”

Increasingly, those customers include men, who have flocked to the website to buy men’s intimate apparel and loungewear. Savage X Fenty rolled out its first men’s line in September 2020 and sold out in days.

“We were really shocked because there’s not really a very strong, intimate brand that plays in both genders,” Pendarvis says. So the team developed some product for Valentine’s Day and again sold out quickly.

“It’s been fascinating to see how we’ve been able to grow that business and I think this idea of inclusivity and body positivity is not something that people historically associate with men.”

Listen to the full episode to hear Pendarvis’ take on what makes a good leader, how her leadership style has changed, the drive to increase diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry, her impressions of NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show and what it’s like to work for Rihanna.

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