Victoria Secret Is Trying to Re-Invent Itself

victoria secret

Whether it’s a sexy new swimsuit or a comfy sleep set, there’s no doubt that the lingerie brand victoria secret is on a mission to reinvent itself. But moving inventory and staying relevant in a shifting retail landscape aren’t the only challenges facing Victoria’s Secret, which has seen its sales plummet since it stopped airing its annual fashion show in 2018. The company is also trying to win back consumers who grew disillusioned with its exclusionary view of women’s bodies and sexuality, which became an especially sensitive topic after the #MeToo movement and the lingering questions around founder Leslie Wexner’s relationship with registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Founded in 1977 by American businessman Roy Raymond, the brand rose to prominence through its catalogs that were sent to more than 200 million homes and dominated magazine pages. By the time Raymond sold the business to the Limited’s Leslie Wexner for $1 million in 1982, it had five stores and a 40-page catalog that grossed more than $500 million.

In 1985, Victoria’s Secret hired Ed Razek as chief creative officer and tasked him with changing the image of the company. Under Razek’s direction, the lingerie company shifted its focus to female beauty standards and began to feature supermodel affiliates known as Angels in its promotional campaigns and televised fashion shows, which were held annually until they were halted in 2018 amid falling ratings. The models, including Heidi Klum and Adriana Lima, wore their famous wings and g-strings as they strutted down the runway and pole danced during the infamous event.

The lingerie retailer is now in the midst of a major makeover, with new leadership that has ditched the Angels and launched new lines for bras for every size and body type. It’s also expanding the brand to include items that had been long neglected — nursing bras and mastectomy bras, for example — because they didn’t fit the male-driven definition of sexy.

But it’s not clear that this will be enough to attract younger shoppers or re-engage disillusioned older ones, or to convince critics that Victoria’s Secret is truly committed to its image as a leader in inclusivity. And that’s not even counting the company’s struggles to keep its doors open amid a changing retail environment and an economic slowdown.

For a closer look at what’s going on behind the scenes, we spoke to a former employee of the company and a branding expert who’s worked with the brand. They each shared their thoughts about how Victoria’s Secret can make its changes stick.

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