Victoria’s Secret Rebrands to Be More Femininity-Oriented

In the wake of #MeToo and the calls for representational inclusivity across body size, race and gender, Victoria’s Secret has a lot to prove. Its lingerie and perfume sales are flat after years of growth and the company is being eaten alive by direct-to-consumer competitors like ThirdLove, Savage X Fenty and more. As its fashion show morphed into a quasi-soft porn parade of impossible beauty standards, even the brand’s trumpeted sexiness started to seem a little dated and vanilla.

That’s why this year, it ditched the architects of its original fashion show and replaced them with a new group of women who embody femininity in all its forms. The “VS Collective” now includes Priyanka Chopra Jonas, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and plus-size models Paloma Elsesser and Ali Tate-Cutler. Victoria’s Secret also launched its first ever VS Live Tour, featuring an array of real women—from 80-year-old model Bethann Hardison and mixed martial artist Rose Namajunas to disabled Paralympian athlete Femita Ayanbeku and the company’s first Black transgender model, Emira D’Spaina.

The rebrand wasn’t easy for a company that grew into a global retail giant by telling consumers that outer beauty matters most. But it’s a necessity. “Customers are quite savvy now, and they can see through that,” Pugh said. If they’re not satisfied with a particular product or the way it’s marketed, they’ll easily switch brands. And a company can’t afford to lose such valuable loyalty from young women, particularly digital-native Gen Zers.

When founder Roy Raymond opened the first Victoria’s Secret store in 1977, the name evoked male fantasies of prim Victorian ladies becoming naughty in the boudoir. Retail billionaire Leslie Wexner took over the company in 1982 and fueled its meteoric growth by recasting the brand in the image of sexy models wearing G-strings and stilettos. Its annual fashion shows, which became a spectacle that aired on network television for nearly two decades, put the Angels—supermodels including Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and Adriana Lima clad in skimpy undergarments—in the spotlight.

But the show has been a bit of a disaster lately. Its producers were accused of exploitation in a 2022 Hulu documentary and the brand was rocked by allegations that its founder had ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Then last year, sales began to slip as more overtly inclusive lingerie companies like ThirdLove and Rihanna’s lingerie label Savage X Fenty began stealing market share.

But if the company is to thrive, it must refocus its marketing strategies and tell a more authentic and diverse story.

But the rapidity of the change has created skepticism among some consumers. And it has made the campaign’s authenticity more important than ever. In a culture where people can instantly swap brands in seconds, companies must make their messages feel fresh, authentic and relevant to keep them coming back for more. Otherwise, customers will move on to something more resonant and authentic—and that may not be so far away from a simple bra.