Screenshot - Rihanna for River Island (

It is no secret that celebrities have become huge fashion icons. Whether you are a fan of them as an artist or not seems to be irrelevant, if they have great style and look good then their wardrobes become influential. 

As a celebrity, endorsing a brand is no longer a matter of just wearing a designer on the red carpet. The fashion industry has clocked onto the power celebrities have over the trends consumers buy into (as have celebrities) and they have realised there is a lot of money and publicity to be had by collaborating.  Rihanna is not the first celebrity to turn fashion designer but, her collaboration with River Island is proving such a partnership works (and not just because of her name)!

So What Made ‘Rihanna for River Island’ Such a Success?

As I said before, ‘Rihanna for River Island’ is not the first celebrity collaboration we have seen on the highstreet:

Screenshot - Kate Moss for Topshop (

But, since Kate Moss’ collaboration with Topshop there has not been a celebrity design collaboration that has caused as much heat and excitement; that is until the whispers of ‘Rihanna for River Island’ began 9 months ago.

The reason for this is not just because Rihanna is an ‘A’ list celebrity that is constantly in the press; hello…Kate Moss is Britain’s Queen of the catwalk and she’s still showing us how to ‘get the London look,’ it’s not even just because the collection oozes the sex appeal and style Rihanna has that consumers are so envious of, but because River Island really worked hard to build their relationship with Rihanna and promote the collaboration consistently well both pre and post launch.

How River Island Made Sure ‘We Found Love’ With Rihanna

Seriously, you name it River Island did it! I have to give them credit they really have worked their little backsides off to make this collaboration a success and Rihanna is pretty much an honorary member of the River Island team.

From Rihanna’s first sketches of a collection, to sourcing and producing the collection, to multi-channel marketing across social media sites and mobiles as well as taking over London Fashion Week (amongst other catwalk shows) and optimising their website accordingly; ‘Rihanna for River Island’ has dominated tabloids, blogging sites and all of our spare time (and possibly budgets) to the point that since going global on 05th March 2013, 7 lines have already sold out online.

Screenshot - River Island Style Finder Blog - Rihanna 777 (

Facebook was the chosen platform for any video marketing.

  • River Island participated in promoting Rihanna’s ‘Unapologetic’ album launch tour ‘777’ (7 Shows in 7 countries in 7 days) by providing access to a live stream video of Rihanna’s London performance exclusively on Facebook but visitors could only watch the video if they ‘liked’ River Island on Facebook. This campaign was a great way to increase their profile’s authority on Facebook as well as encouraging user engagement and treating fans of Rihanna and River Island to something exclusive (as well as something they would actually like) to make them feel special

Screenshot - Rihanna for River Island London Fashion Week -

  • River Island again used this concept on Facebook to live stream their London preview of the collection at London Fashion Week on 16th February 2013. This was the first time the collection had been seen in the UK. Digital media collaborations were a big thing at London Fashion week this year not just because of River Island’s collaboration with Facebook but also because of Google’s collaboration with Topshop. Fashion week and catwalk shows are no longer exclusive to the who’s who of the fashion industry as digital media has made them accessible to the average consumer online enabling brands and designers to feed consumer’s need and desire for a collection prior to it hitting the stores

Screenshot - River Island Instagram - Twitter

  • River Island have really maximised the use of ‘Instagram’ on Twitter as their way of allowing consumers to be kept informed of what’s been happening back stage and on the road whilst promoting ‘Rihanna for River Island.’ Instagram is great for fashion e-commerce brands as it is another channel consumers will use for style inspiration as well as helping to promote a more personalised experience for loyal customers
  • Tweeting on the road with Rihanna on her 777 tour

Channelling Mobile Consumers

River Island chose to keep consumers up to date with events occurring around ‘Rihanna for River Island,’ providing hidden content that they could not access anywhere else unless they downloaded the mobile app River Island had created. The great thing about engaging with your customers via mobile marketing is that you can use GPS (Global Satellite Positioning) to promote special offers when consumers are close to your shop location.

Screenshot - Rihanna for River Island Mobile App - Instagram

Website Heavily Optimised With ‘Rihanna for River Island’

Screenshot - Rihanna for River Island Collection -

Optimising your website plays a huge part in succeeding with any new brand or collaboration on an e-commerce site.

A few ways that River Island have optimised their site is as follows:

  • Created individual Title Tags and Meta descriptions optimised with ‘Rihanna for River Island’ which works very well for them because this is what they have been promoting for the past 9 months, not to mention the fact that Google now reports there are approximately 4,841 global monthly searches for the top 20 variations of this key search term. This could be improved though to include some of the product styles eg: Dress or Shirt as these variations appear in what people are searching for online
  • Created a secondary level navigation category on their site named ‘Rihanna for River Island’ so it easy for visitors to navigate to the collection which provides a good user experience, as well as being featured at a primary level for search engines to index
  • Including ‘Rihanna’ in all product titles so that every item within the collection is optimised with Rihanna’s name and for people searching for ‘Rihanna’s skirt’ for example
  • Including ‘Rihanna for River Island’ in their SEO sitemap footer which search engines will crawl

Exclusive Launches & Competitions

River Island were very clever promoting the launch of their first ‘Rihanna for River Island’ collection. Not only did they attend the all-important fashion weeks across the world, but they also utilised Rihanna’s affinity for the number 7 by hosting exclusive, pre-global launches in stores across 7 countries on 04th March 2013.

This included Oxford Street, London in the UK, running a competition alongside these pre-global launches for fans to win ‘priority passes’ enabling them to shop the collection and queue jump the global launch on 05th March 2013.

Screenshot - River island Style Insider Blog Rihanna Competition -

Promoting a collection as exclusive (even if it is on the highstreet) entices consumers to want the product even more. Hype is everything in fashion (the design of course is important and does need to be right) but you could design an amazing collection that never sells if you do not market it correctly.

I’ll be very interested to see how River Island choose to promote the following three season’s collection with Rihanna. Perhaps New Look and other like-minded highstreet brands should take note from River Island and Topshop to make their celebrity collaborations more successful.

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