Victoria’s Secret is one of the world’s largest retailers of lingerie and fashion. The company also sells a variety of cosmetics and athletic wear. It offers items for men, women and children, as well as swimwear and shoes. One of the most famous products of the brand is its annual fashion show, which features celebrated supermodels. However, despite its success, the company has been exposed for trailing behind cultural norms and is often accused of being outdated.
When it first launched in the 1980s, Victoria’s Secret featured Angels – avatars of the ideal female body. The angels, which wore wings adorned with diamonds, feathers and rhinestones, appeared in ads and in the fashion show. In addition to its Angels, the brand included a variety of supermodels, including Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Lindsay Lohan, Barbara Palvin, Lima, Jessica Alba and Vanessa Hudgens.
In the early 1990s, Victoria’s Secret became the largest lingerie retailer in the United States. In order to stay competitive with other brands, the company had to revamp its sales model. In 1983, the company hired Les Wexner, a prominent fashion mogul, to restructure the brand. As a result, the store’s aesthetic and marketing were turned on their head.
According to Wexner, Raymond’s vision for the company was to create a comfortable environment for men and women, where they could purchase nice underwear. While Raymond was inspired by his wife Gaye’s desire to purchase her own lingerie, he was disappointed that there weren’t any good women’s underwear stores in the area. Thus, he decided to open up his own business. He named it Victoria’s Secret.
After a few years, Raymond was unhappy with his store’s sales, and eventually he sold the company to Les Wexner for a mere $1 million. However, he still stayed on as a board member.
The company had been losing market share to other underwear brands that offered more body-positive models and styles. At the same time, Victoria’s Secret struggled to adapt to the changing consumer preferences. That’s when a series of events dragged the brand into a crisis.
During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Victoria’s Secret was forced to pull the plug on its runway show. This prompted a series of scandals involving the company’s leadership and its over-sexualized advertising. Consumers and even parents of young girls complained that the fashion show was too sexual and tone deaf.
In January, the company announced that it would hire a new creative director. Raul Martinez was tapped to lead the design department. But after a 40 percent drop in the company’s stock, Razek resigned.
A three-part documentary on the history of the brand titled “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons” reveals how the company came to be. By following the lives of the company’s founder, founder’s wife, and a number of influential executives, the film traces how Victoria’s Secret came to dominate the lingerie market and shape society’s conception of beauty.
As the company continues to evolve and move forward, it must balance maintaining its customers and growing its business. It recently hired a new board of directors, with all but one seat occupied by women.