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An Analysis of the Victoria’s Secret Brand: Are They Diversifying, or Protecting Their Public Image?

Somebody Call Victoria, Her Secret’s Out and So is Her Fashion Show

The annual Victoria’s Secret (VS) fashion show has been canceled. The parent company of Victoria’s Secret, L Brands, decided to sack the show this year to “evolve the marketing of Victoria’s Secret”.

Last year, after the debut of Rihanna’s SavageXFenty show, the VS fashion show began facing backlash from viewers.

The Controversy Started with an Offensive Interview

Ed Razek and Monica Mitro of L Brands addressed some of these concerns in an interview with Vogue last November. The controversial interview didn’t settle well with viewers over Razek’s comments about putting transgender models in the VS fashion show. He claimed that the show was a “fantasy and a 42-minute entertainment special.”

When faced with the criticism of not using curve or plus-size models, Razek said: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”

Despite Razek aggressively defending the one-size-fits-all cutout of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, last year the show had it’s lowest ratings ever and the brand continues to face declining sales.

Some Twitter users blame the “sensitivity” of our culture while others rejoiced at the downfall of the VS fashion show.

 

It is almost surprising that the VS fashion show wasn’t cancelled sooner. The brand has faced scandal after scandal, including cultural appropriation and controversial dieting standards.

At the end of the day, sensitivity has nothing to do with the reason the fashion show was canceled. Nobody petitioned to make seeing thin, cisgender people on television illegal, nor did activists blackmail the company into shutting down the show; people simply stopped watching.

Victoria’s Secret realized that their fashion show wasn’t appealing to consumers, for decades it has ignored major cultural changes and has pushed the same image of fashion since the 90’s. Ed Razek said it himself, the VS fashion show is a “42 minute entertainment special”, maybe the fashion show was never about fashion to begin with.

Evolving the Brand

Victoria’s Secret has been working to improve its company since Ed Razek’s Vogue interview last November. In August, the brand hired its first transgender model for VS Pink, Valentina Sampaio. A few weeks later, Ed Razek resigned from his position of chief marketer.

In October, in a collaboration with Bluebella, Victoria’s Secret introduced a curve model, Ali Tate.

An openly transgender model, May Simon Lifschitz starred in the same Bluebella x Victoria’s Secret campaign.

What Will it Really Take?

While Victoria’s Secret is taking steps to broaden their horizons, the change has been far from radical.

While Tate and Lifschitz appear as the face of the Bluebella x Victoria’s secret campaign, neither of the models appear on the website. The models were cast for a partnership with Victoria’s Secret, but it is unlikely that they are employed by the brand despite misleading article headlines. While the company has featured diverse models, they have yet to make any of them Angels.

The good news is, the VS Pink line has widened their range of models on their website and Instagram in the last year.

What About the Sales?

Who knew all it would take for Victoria’s Secret to be inclusive would be falling sales and backlash? I feel like it is good on Victoria’s Secret to evolve their marketing, but we still need to be critical and see where the brand goes with this before we give them a big ol’ pat on the back.

Obviously, lack of diversity is not the only reason why Victoria’s Secret is losing sales and views; people don’t really even like their lingerie anymore.  If a lingerie brand fails time and time again to relate to their target audience, it is no wonder why people have stopped associating with them. Consumers know what they want to see in a brand and they have the free will to decide not to purchase from companies who don’t suit them.

On that note, here are a few other lingerie brands besides Victoria’s Secret to check out:

Knix 

ThirdLove

SavagexFenty

 

 

Featured Image Via Elle 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written By

Nadia is currently enrolled at Lakehead University and is taking courses in political science, economics and psychology. She enjoys theatre, thrift shopping and travelling.

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