The American lingerie, clothing, and beauty retailer, Victoria’s Secret, is known for high visibility marketing and branding including a popular catalog and annual fashion show featuring supermodels dubbed Angels. While the brand remains the largest lingerie retailer in the United States, it has struggled since 2016 due to misalignment with shifting consumer preferences and controversy surrounding corporate leadership’s business practices.
The company was founded by Roy Raymond in 1977. Originally named after his wife, Gaye, who inspired him to start the store, it was originally a catalog and mail-order business that sold bras, panties, and sleepwear. The first Victoria’s Secret fashion show was held in 1995 and featured model Adriana Lima. The event was a big hit and became an annual event. In addition to the fashion shows, the brand also has a series of other events that take place around the world to promote its products.
Despite the success of the Victoria’s Secret brand, the company has faced many challenges in recent years, especially in relation to its racy advertising and body image messages. The company’s image has become increasingly controversial and is in the process of changing significantly. In addition, the brand is facing declining sales and increasing competition from more ethical brands.
In response to the challenges, the company has reorganized internally and made several key changes. In 2022, the three-part Hulu documentary series Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons shook up the public’s perception of the brand. The show alleged that company CEO and chairman Leslie Wexner had close ties to registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was later found dead in his prison cell. Wexner stepped down from his position as chairman and CEO in 2022, but remained on the board of directors for the company.
As part of their rebranding, Victoria’s Secret has pushed for more diversity in its promotional messaging and in-store offerings. Previously, the company was reluctant to showcase anyone that wasn’t thin and able-bodied, feeding into the narrative of a narrow view of beauty. In 2019, the company finally welcomed their first plus-size models into the lineup.
Victoria’s Secret has also tried to make its fashion shows more accessible to consumers, inviting performers such as the Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Halsey, Selena Gomez, and Miguel to perform while models showcased the latest lingerie collection. The brand has also moved away from padded and push-up bras and toward more flattering bralette styles.
Whether Victoria’s Secret can attract new consumers or win back those who have left the brand amid the #MeToo movement and scandals surrounding the company will be interesting to watch. But, as the lingerie industry continues to evolve and consumers demand more from their products, Victoria’s Secret is likely to continue making major changes to its business strategy in order to remain relevant. If the company can’t adapt to meet its consumer’s needs, it will likely be left behind. Stay tuned for more updates on the company’s future plans.