In the hierarchy of British high street brands, River Island lies somewhere between Topshop's broad appeal and the more youthful, slightly saucier Next. It's a store for girls who likely regard themselves as edgier than their peers and look to women like Agyness Deyn and Nineties MTV VJs for style cues. So the news that Rihanna will be guest-designing a Spring 2013 collection for the U.K. brand is, well, brilliant. She is a bona fide fashion hero to her generation and a lover of the gently distressed glamour that her demographic is borrowing from Generation X. As we've come to learn, she's also a huge Anglophile, making her collaboration with River Island (already dubbed "Riri Island" by the media) a boon for all parties involved.
"I've been wanting to design my own collection for some time. River Island is the perfect partner for me to collaborate with and working with a British, family-run business also really appealed to me," Rihanna said in a statement.
River Island stands to benefit the most from this deal, as Rihanna's involvement with their overall look brings a sharper focus to their womenswear. By choosing the provocative singer as a partner and muse, the musical underpinnings of their current aesthetic are reaffirmed, giving the brand a stronger pop culture identity. In turn, whatever Rihanna dreams up for the Spring 2013 collection (probably sequins, martialist flourishes and very short skirts) will directly impact how the public views River Island overall; this is risky but, obviously, they trust her judgment.
River Island chief executive Ben Lewis told the Telegraph, "Rihanna is a style icon; from street to chic, she enjoys her fashion. As soon as we started to work together we knew this was a perfect fit." They seem to be in the mood to experiment, too; Ibiza brand Pacha just designed a capsule beach collection for them and it's going down well – the collaboration has even been mentioned on trendy electronic/trance sites.
For Rihanna, this is a chance to prove her design prowess even further. She served as an effective poster girl for Armani Jeans and gave the nod on a few seasonal items as a "guest designer," but she has made it clear she has more ambitious creative plans in mind. She'll be nurturing a herd of young designers as the producer and star of her upcoming TV show Styled to Rock – also a U.K exclusive. As that wraps up, her debut River Island collection will be ready to hit stores and will represent our first real chance to see what the Riri aesthetic boils down to as a procurable product.