The American lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, known for peddling all kinds of lace, strappy underwear often thought more for looks than for practicality, abandons its Angels models in a radical overhaul of its commercial approach.
The Angels – a body of particularly slim catwalkers who strutted in heavy wings and dizzying stilettos during the televised Victoria’s Secret fashion shows – will be replaced by seven new figureheads described as “accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change “.
These women, who make up The VS Collective, lean forward towards the athletic and activist types in a fundamental shift for the business.
The new group includes American football champion, women’s pay equity advocate and prominent anti-Donald Trump voice Megan Rapinoe, actress-entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Jonas, LGBTQ + activist and model Valentina Sampaio, model and South refugee -Sudanese Adut Akech, British journalist and equality lawyer Amanda de Cadenet, Chinese-American freestyle ski champion Eileen Gu, as well as model and body positivity advocate Paloma Elsesser.
âI am honored to join this group of incredible women to lead change within the Victoria’s Secret brand and beyond. I have so often felt on the outside looking for brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I am thrilled to create a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women, âsaid Rapinoe in A press release.
She added, “I believe in the power of authenticity and community and I am excited to show what can be done through The VS Collective.”
Sampaio, who has become a transgender change maker in the fashion industry, said she believes in the power of the new group of women representing the brand.
Victoria’s Secret has long been known for a marketing portrayal of femininity seen by many as perpetuating gender stereotypes.
Sampaio said, âTogether we can raise our vibration and catalyze positive change around the world. Being a trans woman often means facing closed doors in people’s hearts. As a powerful global platform, Victoria’s Secret is committed to opening those doors for trans women like me, celebrating, uplifting and standing up for ALL women.
The man at the top of the company, chief executive Martin Waters, noted an “incredible journey” for the brand, while adding a perhaps unlikely goal.
âAt Victoria’s Secret, we are on an incredible journey to become the world’s premier advocate for women,â Waters mentionned in a press release.
He added, âThis is a radical change for our brand, and it is a change that we embrace from our hearts. These new initiatives are just the start. We are energized and humbled by the work ahead. “
CFO Martha Pease noted a mission to âtransform the way we connect and present to womenâ.
The underwear titan has announced a new podcast series and a new fund to boost research into cancers that affect women, especially funding women scientists in the field.
Of course, this rebranding did not happen in a vacuum. Victoria’s Secret’s stake in the U.S. women’s underwear market fell to 21% in 2020, from 32% in 2015, according to the New York Times reported. (The second most popular brand is Hanesbrands, which has 16% of this market.)
The drop in sales is due to various factors. For years, competing brands that touted themselves as âthe anti-Victoria’s Secret, with more typical female bodies and an emphasis on inclusiveness and diversityâ have become more popular.
âIn the old days, the Victoria brand had only one goal, which was called ‘sexy’,â Waters told the newspaper. This involved avoiding products such as maternity and post-mastectomy bras, which were perceived as unsexy.
Victoria’s Secret, launched in 1977 as a “store where men could feel comfortable buying lingerie,” with advertising aimed at straight men, was increasingly seen as obsolete, according to the article. from the New York Times.
In 2019, Victoria’s Secret responded to long-term criticism that it supported consistent beauty standards, repulsed trans women and allegedly failed to protect models. She canceled her show and teamed up with lingerie company Bluebella, promising “to encourage self-esteem, self-respect and self-esteem.” Because everyone deserves to be celebrated.
While the so-called Angels will not be part of Victoria’s Secret, stores will continue to sell items such as thongs and lace underwear, but will expand their offerings, especially with sportswear. And Victoria’s Secret will soon start offering nursing bras for sale.
But the company has also been dogged by the controversy surrounding Leslie Wexner, who founded its parent company, L Brands. Wexner had ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In addition, reports had revealed “a misogynistic corporate culture that trafficked into sexism, sizeism and ageism”.
It appears Victoria’s Secret is also trying to tackle this baggage as part of its rebranding. L Brands ad that Victoria’s Secret would be separated from L Brands and would be its own publicly traded company.
The new board of directors of Victoria’s Secret should be composed of seven directors, “including six independent and six women”, including the president, insisted on L Brands. Wexner, who resigned from L Brands last year, will not be involved with the new spinoff company.