“Is Rita Ora The New Rihanna?”, “Bitch Stole My Look – Rihanna vs Rita Ora”, these are some of the headlines we were subjected to when British singer Rita Ora first burst onto the scene. This was rumoured to be a strategic move from her now estranged label, Roc Nation, to position her as the next Rihanna, a new age music and fashion Icon. Sadly, in the words of Saint Dineo Ranaka, Rita “came highly recommended, but delivered nothing”. It’s safe to say that after all these years, Rita is still far from being the “next Rihanna”, at least when it comes to delivering number 1 hits (That Rihanna Reign Just Won’t Let Up). However, Rita has done an incredible job in carving a name for herself in the fashion world.
In 2010, the husky-voiced singer starred in two Calvin Klein campaigns, but it wasn’t until she was named the face of Italian sneaker brand, Superga, that the fashion world started to take note. In 2013, Superga announced that Rita would be taking over the reigns from model, Alexa Chung as the label’s Ambassador. The union which saw the label cough up an estimated £180 000 (R3,123 537) for an exclusive partnership with the singer could put a few hollywood marriages to shame. The union came to a screeching halt after Superga parent company GLD Group accused the ‘How We Do’ singer of breach of contract after being spotted at a night club wearing rival brand, Converse. As a result, GLD reportedly withheld the final two instalments of Ora’s £180 000, to which the singer fired back demanding her payment, despite admitting to the breach on her part. Rita conceded her role as the face of the brand and surely learnt her lesson for future brand collaborations.
It is inconceivable how anyone would be able to bounce back from such a disaster, but Rita Ora’s brand walked away from the holocaust unscathed. In fact, just a year later, Rita Ora was everywhere! She was popping up in TV campaigns, mentoring music hopefuls on The Voice UK, and even scored a surprising cameo on 50 Shades of Grey. Following a stint as the face of Madonna and daughter Lourdes’s clothing line, Material Girl, Ora fronted two DKNY collection campaigns as well as the luxury brand’s New York-inspired fragrance, My NY. Rita has also gone on to collaborate with street chic make-up brand, Rimmel London for a limited edition line of lipsticks and nail polishes. Additionally, Rita also signed a deal with renowned Italian fashion house, Roberto Cavalli, appearing as the face of the brand’s Autumn/Winter ’14 campaign. This woman’s branding hustle knows no bounds!
In late 2013, Rita signed her most lucrative deal to date, with sportswear giant, adidas *Take That Superga*. Now in its third year running, the $2,4million (R32, 255 640) partnership between Ora and adidas is showing no signs of slowing down. The collaboration that saw the pop star make her design debut focuses on urban sporty staples that have become a huge part of Rita’s signature style. “My style is very eclectic and changes everyday and when creating this collection with adidas, we wanted this to shine through”, she told Elle Magazine. Rita Ora’s Autumn/Winter ’16 collection for adidas Originals launches this September.
The Rihanna comparisons has subsided, her movie career seems to be taking off. The former X Factor judge is set to make a stunning TV comeback as the host of one of the most famous reality shows in the US – America’s Next Top Model, replacing iconic supermodel Tyra Banks. This new gig will surely see Rita’s profile bolstered in the US and across the rest of the world, something her music couldn’t do. Keep shining Ms Ora! May your brand continue to grow in leaps and bounds.