Victoria Secret is a brand of women’s lingerie, clothing, and beauty products. It was founded in 1977 by Roy Raymond and has since grown to be one of the largest retailers of lingerie in the world.
The company is known for its high-visibility marketing and branding, starting with a popular catalog and then an annual fashion show starring supermodels who are dubbed Angels. In the years following, however, the brand has struggled with shifting consumer preferences and controversy surrounding corporate leadership’s business practices.
As a result, the company’s stock has plummeted over the years. Its CEO, Martin Waters, has been working hard to bring the brand back to profitability. He recently told investors that the company would focus on its core bra business and try to wrest back market share lost to direct-to-consumer competitors.
Despite these efforts, Victoria’s Secret has seen declining sales and reputation over the past few years, according to Business Insider. In addition to this, the company’s former CMO, Ed Razek, made controversial comments about transgender models that sparked public outrage and model mutiny.
After a four-year hiatus, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is finally returning to TV screens and runways, reports Vanity Fair. It’s a big deal for nostalgic fans who grew up watching the show and were disappointed when it was pulled in 2019.
In a new documentary, “Angels and Demons,” director Dan Tyrnauer looks back at how the company went from a tasteful, respectable image to an erotic parody of the hyper-sexualized fashion industry.
It’s a fascinating look at the brand’s history that sheds light on how it became so successful and how it’s been able to stick with an unattainable, sexualized image for so long.
When Roy Raymond opened the first Victoria’s Secret store in California, he wanted to create a brand where men could buy lingerie without feeling uncomfortable or compromising their personal dignity. He was inspired by the Victorian era and envisioned a place where men would feel comfortable buying lingerie and women would want to shop in a store that had the elegance of a boutique.
The first Victoria’s Secret shop was located at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California and opened in 1977. It quickly grew to include four stores and a mail-order catalog.
While the company initially focused on women, it later expanded its product offerings to include a tween line called Pink that was targeted at the market’s new generation of girls. The Pink line was a parody of the hyper-sexualized fashion scene and included models wearing erotic schoolgirl or candy-themed outfits while walking catwalks adorned with larger-than-life lollipops and children’s toys.
By the 1990s, VS had become one of the world’s biggest brands and sold over $4 billion in lingerie and other products. Its popularity soared thanks to its high-visibility marketing and branding, involving top models dubbed Angels who wore elaborate lingerie.
But the hypersexualized brand image began to take a turn as VS embraced the latest trends in lingerie and cosmetics. In the process, it frightened many consumers. Ultimately, the company lost its grip on its customers and suffered massive losses.