Rita Ora says working with Primark on an affordable fashion collaboration has made her “grateful” for how far she’s come since her teenage days, shopping in the brand’s Hammersmith store.
“Everyone has their struggles, and I think at the time I didn’t know any different,” said the singer-songwriter, 32, who has achieved global success during her career.
“I had nothing to compare it to, but now I’m in this position, it’s something that has made me very grateful for what I do today.”
Signed by Jay Z’s record label Roc Nation at the age of 18 (they’ve since parted ways), Ora released her debut album in 2012 and has had four number one singles in the UK. She has also featured as a judge on The Masked Singer on both sides of the Atlantic, and a coach on The Voice Australia.
Despite working with a variety of luxury fashion brands throughout her career, she chose to partner with a high street retailer in light of the cost-of-living crisis.
“When I had this idea of doing something with Primark, I wanted to establish the story, the connection, the fact that I wore them to school,” explained the pop star, who was born in Kosovo but moved to London with her family while she was still a baby.
“Going there when I was growing up, and trying on outfits and finding looks [made me feel] like I was worthy to be in the same room as people that may have had more expensive clothes than I did.”
Dropping just in time for party season, Ora described the second collection – which features LBDs and sparkly co-ords, alongside sharp tailoring and vinyl trench coats – as “a little bit more elevated, a bit more mature”, and said designing clothing was similar to making music: “It’s like putting out an album for me. It’s always very nerve-wracking and exciting.”
At a time when fast fashion labels are coming under increasing scrutiny for their environmental impact, the singer-turned-designer said she was impressed by Primark Cares, the brand’s ethics and sustainability programme.
“I think something that Primark don’t scream from the rooftop is that they’ve been doing a lot with sustainability,” said Ora, who explained that recycled materials were used in the production of her range.
“All my jeans are Primark Cares, and every basic… That is something that we do very seriously.”
Her party season pick from the range? “It’s probably the black hooded dress,” said Ora, who will be travelling to New Zealand for Christmas with her husband, filmmaker Taika Waititi, 48, who hails from the Antipodean country: “Me and Taika and the family are going to actually go and have a sunny Christmas.”
After becoming friends in 2018, the pair started dating in 2021 when they were both working in Australia, and married the following year in Los Angeles.
“It’s just really about spending quality time together,” Ora added of their festive plans. “That tradition is something we take really seriously. We try wherever we are to fly and be together, because time goes by really fast.”
Despite being in the showbiz spotlight for more than a decade, the singer is still surprised by the amount of attention they get when they’re out and about together.
For instance, when they attended the Rugby World Cup final in Paris and were pictured on TV: “There was so many people there and way bigger names than me, so it was really, really a surprise when everyone was texting me, being like, ‘Did we just see you at the Rugby World Cup?'”
The famous fan loved the experience: “I did catch on to the rules during the game, and Taika gave me a quick lowdown the night before,” she said over the phone from Bulgaria, on her way to visit Waititi on set: “Taika’s shooting something, so I thought I’d come down for the day and say hi.”
Having directed her own music videos, the multi-talented star would like to follow in the footsteps of her husband, who won an Academy Award in 2020 for Jojo Rabbit, the film he wrote and directed. “I think it’s really cool. It’s another way to express yourself creatively. I love what he does. I’m such a fan of his and he’s so great at it. So I learn a lot as well just by being [on set]. He’s really, really inspiring,” she said.
Speaking of future plans, as well as music, film and TV projects slated for 2024, the health-conscious star wants to improve her running technique next year. “I’ve just taken up running at the gym. I’ve never been like a runner type person. I liked how I felt and I wanted to keep doing it,” Ora revealed.
“In the past two years, I’ve been focusing on my health way more. I think when you travel so much, at some point you have to really start factoring in all the stress it puts on your body and all the boring stuff.”
But she’s still leaving a bit of room for festive fun: “Going to sleep, drinking water, behaving… and then having fun on picked nights. That’s like my life now.”
Rita Ora X Primark is available in stores and online now.