One of the leading lingerie brands in the world, Victoria’s Secret, has reported a $500 million drop in revenues since 2016, with 35 stores being closed in the first quarter of 2019.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which has been active for 24 years and serves as a major marketing pull for the company, will no longer be broadcast on television.
There have been multiple reasons speculated as to the brand’s decline. Victoria’s secret has suffered serious setbacks such as its regressive presentation of women, Jeffrey Epstein using his proximity to the brand, and lack of inclusivity.
Supermodel Karlie Kloss was an ‘Angel’ in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show for two years. Her Vogue covers and brand partnerships make her a prominent face in fashion, however she left the company in 2017, concerned about its portrayal of women.
“The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.”
Added to this, the brand landed on the wrong side of the #MeToo movement, as it found itself embroiled in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, convicted sex offender and financier who abused his access to Victoria’s Secret models. This, combined with its voyeuristic view of women, could be warning away shoppers, as stores display photographs and videos of models in underwear.
But there are further failures to take into account. Up to this point, Victoria’s Secret has demonstrated a misunderstanding of its market. It has fought against the forces of inclusivity and refused to cast transgender models, as many of its customers wish. Executive Ed Razek is quoted,
“Shouldn’t we have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.”
It is possible that the company is beginning to modernise as it reflects on its failings. In August 2019, transgender model Valentina Sampaio was allegedly cast, and the runway show is set to feature a number of models of colour.
But the move speaks of inauthenticity and a low-effort approach to the issues. New online underwear brands such as Savage x Fenty and Nubian Skin have championed progressive values like body positivity for years. These brands resonate with Millennials and Gen Z, and have seen their market share increase as a result: from 28.1% in 2013 to 36.2% in 2018.
So is it too late for Victoria’s Secret? The fact is that more than ever, consumers are choosing to buy from companies that align with their values. The opportunity for Victoria’s Secret to adapt to its market came years ago, and the company chose not to cash in.
Photograph: StockSnap via Pixabay