The singer’s gone sporty. This week Rihanna announced — via her social media network — that she’s not just acting as Puma’s global brand ambassador (joining rank with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, and football star striker Mario Balotelli), and she’s not just fronting the company’s ad campaign for Fall 2015… No, the 26 year old chart topper announced that she was tapped by the company as Creative Director. And she’s calling her new gig, “a little bit surreal.”
The seven-time Grammy Award winner and CFDA Fashion Icon was brought on to help the ailing sporting goods house increase its women’s category fitness and training lines. And she’s thrilled that she will have full creative freedom in her new role.
“I’m very excited about this. Whether it’s apparel or shoes or accessories, I want to modernize it by highlighting the classics and going from things that make Puma Puma — give it a youthfulness, make it hip, basically [make it] Rihanna,” the singer told WWD in an interview earlier this week.
The venture is the latest in a series of Puma’s efforts to boost sales and refresh its brand image, and surely pushes Puma ahead of category competitors in the digital space: Rihanna boasts 14.1 million followers on Instagram and 38.3 million followers on Twitter.
And she has already started making her mark, putting in her first appearance at Puma’s German headquarters to pick out fabrics, talk style, and generally muse on the line’s overall strategy and direction earlier this week.
She also answered some questions for WWD that’ll alert us all to the direction she’ll be taking the sports giant:
WWD: What’s the first thing that pops to your mind when you hear Puma?
Rihanna: My childhood. Some of the first sneakers I owned were Puma, and I wore them to death, until they had holes in them. They were sleek running shoes, I had them in pink with the black Puma stripes on the side. They also made them in Jamaican colors and so in the Caribbean it was like: What? Jamaican colors? That was the it-shoe in Barbados — if you didn’t have those, [that was it]. You know how kids are.
How many pairs of sneakers do you own, and do they outnumber your stilettos?
Rihanna: I have too many [sneakers] if that’s even possible; they are mostly in storage now. [Rihanna catalogues all her performance looks in a 4,000-square-foot storage unit, of which roughly 1,000 square feet is dedicated to shoes.] They are probably on par with my stilettos. I love a heel but recently I’m tending more to sneakers. Being in the studio, traveling, touring — you cannot do that in heels, unless you are Posh Spice [she laughs]. She is in the airport with four kids and she gets it done. She is so legit’.
How does music, your core activity, relate to fashion?
Rihanna: Music and fashion go hand in hand. I think music inspires all types of arts; it inspires life, emotion, mood, and all of those things are reflected in my fashion and my style. One doesn’t go without the other.
How serious are you about your designing career? Are you ready to take it deeper?
Rihanna: I love designing. I’ve always enjoyed it. The thing I love most is the unexpected result between my brand and theirs, the combination, the marriage — it’s like having a baby, you put two things together and all of the sudden it bursts into a new thing. It’s life. At River Island I was able to see stuff come to life, draw up an idea from scratch, and that made me want to take on a bigger challenge. And MAC was an amazing experience — from creating packaging to going through textures. I would love to do cosmetics, because I love beauty: choosing colors, creating shapes. It’s like painting, you just get to play. The same way I treated MAC, I will attack Puma.
What’s next for Rihanna in 2015?
Rihanna: Releasing an album. I don’t know when exactly, but you will know when I know it.