For more than 20 years, Victoria’s Secret has cemented its image built on a masculine sensual vision with a major annual event: a glam catwalk extravaganza featuring supermodels like Naomi Campbell Staggered down the runway in Swarovski crystal-covered wings, thongs and million-dollar outfits. Fantasy bra.
Now, after a four-year hiatus, the lingerie brand returned Wednesday night with an overhaul that’s part fashion campaign, part preview for a documentary-style film starring 20 global creatives. It celebrates all the different body types—waist sizes and all.
Top models like Winnie Harlow, who suffers from vitiligo, a skin disease, have featured in some of the designs. The event also showcased the creators’ sculpts on headless mannequins of various body types.
The Victoria’s Secret World Tour, which will stream globally on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 26, is the company’s biggest marketing investment in the past five years and its latest effort to reverse its overly sexy image that has made it It has nothing to do with many women, causing sales to decline year after year.
Those efforts included revamping its marketing, highlighting fuller-bodied women in ads and store models, and expanding into mastectomy bras and comfortable sports bras. It’s also refreshing its stores with brighter lighting and pink walls. The company also replaced supermodel Angels with a diverse team of 10 women who advise the brand and promote it on social media.
“My motivation for coming here is that I have girls,” Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima, a longtime Victoria’s Secret Angel, said on the red carpet. “Some of my girls want to be models, so I feel like today, Victoria’s Secret and other brands are embracing and celebrating women at different stages. So that’s a beautiful thing.”
Campbell told The Associated Press that there are a lot of girls who want to work and create for Victoria’s Secret, “and now they’re going to have the opportunity to do that.”
But some experts say Victoria’s Secret faces an uphill battle.
While the brand remains the largest-selling lingerie brand in the U.S., its market share has fallen from 31.2 percent in 2017 to 18.7 percent last year, driven by smaller rivals such as American Eagle’s Aerie and others that have been inclusive from the start. Sexual blow to online startups. According to market research firm Euromonitor International, Go offers more comfort.
Last year, Victoria’s Secret bought online rival Adore me for $400 million in cash, but the Reynoldsburg, Ohio-based company still saw a quarter of its sales in the period ended July 29. One of the drops. Year.
Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters told analysts last week that turning around the business will take some time.
“We recognize that neither our brand revolution nor our strategy will reach its full potential overnight,” Waters said. “We’re on a journey. We also believe there is a clear path to growth in the current turbulent environment and in the future.”
‘The story became toxic’
Not so long ago, Victoria’s Secret had unrivaled success.
The label was founded by the late Roy Larson Raymond in the late 1970s when he was embarrassed to buy underwear for his wife. Lex Wexner is the founder of Limited Stores Inc., which changed its name to L Brands in 2013 and bought Victoria’s Secret in 1982 and built it into a retail force. By the mid-1990s, Victoria’s Secret was making a name for itself on the runway and on the Internet with its supermodels.
But in 2017, after the #MeToo movement began, sales at Victoria’s Secret began to decline, prompting women to seek out brands focused on positively enhancing their bodies. In 2019, longtime Victoria’s Secret marketing director Edward Razek resigned. That same year, the company said it would rethink its fashion shows.
Wexner apologized in 2019 for his relationship with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on sex trafficking charges. Wexner stepped down as L Brands CEO and chairman in 2020 and the board a year later, severing the last of his ties. In 2021, Victoria’s Secret will spin off from L Brands to become its own independent public company.
“They have a very clear story,” says Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce. “Unfortunately, the story became toxic.”
Last year, singer Jax released a song called “Victoria’s Secret,” in which she criticized the brand: “I know Victoria’s Secret, girl, you won’t believe it. She’s a woman who lives in Ohio. Old man in the state, making money from girls like me.”
Adamson said Victoria’s Secret is now sending the same message as other brands, namely a variety of shapes and comfort. But it doesn’t stand out.
Sierra Mariela, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, hasn’t stepped into a Victoria’s Secret store in at least five years because she’s sick of the information. Instead, she’s been going to Target or Depop, a private second-hand clothing marketplace, for her lingerie needs.
“I wasn’t raised as a typical thin person, I just felt like the environment that was created was designed for a certain type of person,” she said. “I just feel more connected to other brands.”
Waters noted on an investor call last week that Wednesday’s fashion event offered the brand an opportunity to “reclaim its place at the center of cultural relevance, whether it’s fashion, art, music or pop culture.”
It reflects the company’s mission: “Uplifting and supporting women around the world.”
The event featured a performance by Doja Cat, showcased clips from the feature-length film, and included a fashion show styled by the creator and a collection designed by the company’s design team. The company will unveil 13 couture-inspired designs — silk gowns, lace trousers and corsets — that will go on sale at the end of September. The film features many famous models from the original show, such as Campbell, Lima and Gigi Hadad, but also includes many plus-size models, such as Paloma Elsesser, whom the brand has been collaborating with for several years.
In the film, Melissa Valdes Duque, a 24-year-old designer from Bogota, Colombia, creates crocheted looks that symbolize women’s physical and emotional wounds. She acknowledged that the brand held to some unrealistic standards.
“We all live by certain standards of body and beauty,” she says. “But brands and people … we all grow.”