Over the past two decades, the fashion industry has worked toward becoming more inclusive. There has been a dramatic shift from featuring white, skinny, able-bodied models to including a variety of races, body types and backgrounds.
One brand that has made headlines again and again is Savage X Fenty, owned and influenced by Rihanna. If you’ve kept up with the brand, then you know that this is not the first time Savage X Fenty is paving the way toward inclusivity and diversity in the fashion world. Most recently, fans are praising Rihanna for featuring plus-size male models in her latest collection of lingerie. With more designers taking notes from this revolutionary move, inclusivity will soon be the norm in the fashion industry.
The lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, was originally launched in May of 2018. The first marketing video for the brand showcases women with a variety of ethnicities and body types posing seductively while a compilation of self-love affirmations plays in the background. From the moment of conception, Savage X Fenty vowed to bring inclusivity and body positivity to a wider platform. Unlike Victoria’s Secret, Rihanna’s lingerie line attempts to show off the beauty of real human bodies, instead of the airbrushed versions that audiences are used to seeing. Though fat rolls, stretch marks and cellulite are rarely — if ever — displayed on a brand’s website, Savage X Fenty enthusiastically showcases the one-of-a-kind features that define their models.
Fast forward two years later and the brand has moved from their focus on women’s lingerie to creating a collection of briefs and boxers for men. After Rihanna released the merch on her website, fans flocked to Twitter to praise the singer for including male models with bigger body types to wear the newest items.
One Twitter user posted a screenshot of the website with the caption “OKAY RIHANNA,” and has amassed more than 320,000 likes. Under the tweet, men are replying heartfelt sentiments about finally seeing a model who represents their physiques. One fan wrote, “I just realized I have never seen a male model with a body type close to mine that wasn’t there as a joke. Seeing this made me really happy. They even kept the stretch marks.”
OKAY RIHANNA ? pic.twitter.com/kgDD7J24Bg
— Big Birkin Ber (@amberellaaaa_) October 2, 2020
The male model featured in the famous tweet goes by Steven G. While he started out as a photographer, he took a leap of faith at the start of the pandemic and decided to create a modeling portfolio. Savage X Fenty soon reached out to him and asked about a collaboration. From there, internet fame came when the tweet with his image went viral. In an interview with Byrdie, Steven said, “There’s so much love it’s overwhelming. … I didn’t realize the impact that this would make on other men. … I thought it was gonna be something for me but it became something so much bigger.” Steven’s role in the Savage X Fenty campaign has brought newfound confidence to men all over the world.
The lingerie line is finally bringing the long-awaited image of plus-size men to mainstream media. The industry has been more inclusive of bigger women in recent years, with models like Ashley Graham and Denise Bidot starring on the covers of international fashion magazines and walking the runways of New York’s Fashion Week. Thanks to Savage X Fenty, men who don’t have the stereotypical masculine body type can also see themselves represented in fashion. At a time when men’s mental health and emotional needs are frequently overlooked, it is imperative that male minorities are presented in a socially positive light.
While many high-profile brands like Forever 21 and Fashion Nova have created separate lines for their plus-size customers, Savage X Fenty redefines this notion by incorporating the images of Steven G. alongside the others. Instead of removing the larger models from the home page of the website and partitioning them into their own “Plus” or “Brawn” category, Savage X Fenty emphasizes the equal beauty of all body shapes. Rihanna and her team of designers pay careful attention to every detail when creating a truly inclusive brand.
More than just being inclusive, Rihanna aims to create a lingerie line that is financially accessible for everyone. With two bras totaling at only $29, the inexpensive cost pales in comparison to the price tag of one Victoria’s Secret piece. Like the renowned bag designer Telfar, Rihanna’s brand wants her products to be affordable for every consumer. Without sacrificing quality, Savage X Fenty makes their items reasonably priced to accommodate any socioeconomic situation.
To succeed in the fashion industry, designers must go above and beyond to provide cute or trendy products. Creating products that give visibility to groups that aren’t the typical white, rich, cisgender, able-bodied clientele is becoming the new standard for what brands are worthy of shopping from. Popular fashion brands like PrettyLittleThing and ASOS have previously been deemed inclusive after featuring models with health conditions and disabilities. While Savage X Fenty is not the first brand to demonstrate inclusivity, their daring approach to redefining beauty in the world of fashion is just as admirable.
Though many fashion designers have taken the initiative of including plus-size models and a variety of skin tones on their runways, most have done so to either generate revenue or after experiencing backlash. However, Savage X Fenty wasn’t created by Rihanna for the fortune and fame (both of which Rihanna already has). Rihanna claims that she started Savage X Fenty “to make people look good and feel good.” Her brand has taken an honest, unadulterated approach to fashion and has received the recognition it deserves.
Rihanna has previously mentioned that inclusivity is “second nature” to her and it shines through in everything she does. In all aspects, Savage X Fenty defies stereotypes and makes quality lingerie items for every demographic. By not using photoshop or a majority of skinny, white models, Savage X Fenty captures a new wave of diversity that keeps fans intrigued. If other designers can learn from Savage X Fenty’s success, there might one day be true inclusivity in the fashion industry.