The lingerie powerhouse Victoria's Secret is ditching its iconic 'Angels' in favor of a radical new direction. In order to develop a new brand image, the company will now collaborate with a group of inspirational women from various professions. These women are ranging from activists to entrepreneurs, from various countries. Martin Waters, the CEO of Victoria's Secret, told The New York Times that Angels were no longer "culturally relevant."
Victoria's Secret has signed a new model squad headlined by American soccer star Megan Rapinoe to replace the brand's hypersexualized models. They have been criticized for emulating male fantasy rather than accurately representing what women seek in underwear.
In recent years, businesses that openly promote both body and ethnic diversity have overshadowed Victoria’s Secret. They popularised seductive lingerie to the people in the 1970s and then made billions.
Victoria's Secret, which has been chastised for objectifying women, ended its renowned fashion show in 2019, an internationally televised spectacle that saw women parade down the catwalk in barely-there lingerie adorned with diamonds, feathers, and lace.
Who were Victoria’s Secret Angels?
Since the late 1990s, angels have been a part of Victoria's Secret brand. Angels have included some of the world's most prominent models, including Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks, and Heidi Klum. For decades, angels have been the subject of Victoria's Secret's marketing campaigns and annual runway fashion show, dubbed the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show."
Victoria's Secret Angels were essential in defining what it meant to be "sexy" in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, the company's runway shows and ads have recently been deemed outmoded.
Patriarchal and Sexist image of Victoria’s Secret
Ms. Rapinoe, an LGBTQIA+ activist, was more forthright in her evaluation of the company's previous image, calling it "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired"
She went on to say that it was "very much marketed toward younger women," and that the message was "very harmful."
L Brands' previous chief marketing officer Ed Razek, who departed from the company in 2019, was the brains behind Victoria's Secret show. He had been chastised the year before for making a transphobic remark. He also stated that plus-size models did not pique the interest of the audience.
Les Wexner, a billionaire, purchased Victoria's Secret in 1982. Mr. Wexner, the former CEO of L Brands, has indicated that he will not seek re-election to the position of chairman emeritus.
Mr. Wexner was chastised in 2019 for his long relationship with late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He hired Mr. Epstein to manage his funds, but they parted ways in 2007. Mr. Wexner described his acquaintance with Mr. Epstein as "embarrassed."
Why the sudden change?
The world has changed. Brands are working to be more inclusive, carrying sizes larger than 12 or 14, as well as hues that aren't limited to a small spectrum of pinkish "flesh" tones. Victoria's Secret has failed to keep up, and as a result, it has begun to appear outdated. After ratings dropped from 10 million in 2010 to 3 million in 2018, the fashion show was canceled.
Meanwhile, rivals have appeared from all corners, probably none more ferocious than Rihanna's Savage x Fenty line, which debuted in 2018 and brazenly displayed the kinds of bodies Victoria's Secret had shunned. Savage x Fenty supplied size 3X underwear and 44DDD bras, while V.S. ignored plus-size women and cast Angels who were always slender and almost invariably white. These angels set unrealistic body standards and did not take forth the message of body positivity.
"When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond," said Martin Waters, the former head of Victoria's Secret's international business, who became its chief executive in February.
Last year, when L Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent company, considered a sale, it closed hundreds of locations. There have been complaints of a terrible work environment, with male bosses treating models as personal toys.
Megan Rapinoe, a professional soccer player, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and LGBTQ model and activist Valentina Sampaio, the first transgender model to be included in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, are among the first seven women chosen to join the "VS Collective." Women are expected to join in greater numbers.
According to a news statement about the changes, Victoria's Secret launched the alliance to "build new, deeper relationships with all women" by generating "revolutionary" lingerie collections, "inspiring" content, and raising awareness for organizations that empower women.
In 2019, the 24-year-old Brazilian became Victoria's Secret's first transgender model, flying the banner for the LGBTQ+ community.
Valentina stated of becoming one of the company's new Brand Advisers, "Being a trans woman frequently means facing locked doors to people's hearts."
"As a powerful global platform, Victoria's Secret is committed to opening these doors for trans women like me, by celebrating, uplifting, and advocating for all women."
Model Adut Akech was born in South Sudan and migrated to Australia as a refugee with her mother and siblings when she was six years old.
She made her fashion week catwalk debut at the age of 17 when she signed with Saint Laurent for its SS17 presentation.
“I can't wait to work alongside them to remind, encourage, and support all women that they can and should dream big and always reach for the stars,” adds Adut, who has worked on campaigns for Fendi, Moschino, and Versace.
A 17-year-old world champion freestyle skier Eileen Gu is the VS Collective's youngest member, but she already has a plethora of expertise on and off the runway.
Eileen, a 17-year-old Chinese American freestyle skier who recently competed in the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, created history by being the first female rookie to win a medal in all three events she competed in.
Priyanka Chopra, one of India's highest-paid actresses, has the VS Collective's largest fan base.
The 38-year-old, who has a diverse resume that includes winning Miss World in 2000, said she would utilize her new position to "create future collections that are inclusive of all people."
But Priyanka says she is "most excited over attracting new customers and for those who have always been a customer of Victoria's Secret to feel represented and like they belong."
Model Paloma Elsesser was born in London and has a Chilean-Swiss father and an African-American mother. She's one of the few plus-size models to grace the cover of Vogue. She has modeled for many famous brands like Nike, Inc., Fenty Beauty, etc.
The curvy 29-year-old was hired for Victoria Secret's Swim Spring 2021 collection, and her pictures were appreciated by fans.
She said, "I didn't start modeling to just do all the cool stuff, I did it to change the world."
Amanda De Cadenet
Amanda, a British journalist, and photographer rose to prominence in the 1990s on the late-night entertainment show The Word.
Five years ago she launched Girlgaze, a jobs platform for female and non-binary Gen Z creatives.
Amanda, 49, is the right candidate to modernize the Victoria's Secret tribe. She is now the face of the prime-time US talk series The Conversation.
This professional soccer player from the United States is well-known around the world for her deft skill and activism. She is a supporter of various LGBTQ+ organizations and has received the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center's board of directors award.
Megan, one of the most outspoken progressive voices in American athletics, is one of the trailblazers.
The pink-haired footballer is ready to kick VS into shape after alleging the company was "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired."