If you’re a lover of this long-time brand, then you’re in for some bad news. Victoria’s Secret, currently the largest lingerie retailer in the United States, has spent the last few years dogged by controversy and dropping sales figures and has now reportedly cancelled it’s annual fashion show. At least, according to Australian model and Victoria Secret runway alum, Shanina Shaik.
An industry mainstay, the VS show has been running for nearly two decades and regularly features huge names like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Winnie Harlow. It’s also become known as a pop-stage, typically headlined by star performers; past examples include Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and Shawn Mendez.
But in a world that’s becoming more aware and diverse, it seems like that’s all been put on hold this year, as the company allegedly re-examins and overhauls its branding and public image.
A short history of Victoria Secret drama
Victoria’s Secret was in the spotlight last year for all the wrong reasons after the company’s CMO Ed Razek told Vogue: “We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.” (I mean, how are we supposed to feel about that?)
This quote is a small part of his response to interviewer Nicole Phelps asking how the fashion juggernaut planned to respond to cultural shifts in the lingerie business.
Razek’s response is largely defensive, pointing out that VS was instrumental in pushing up the age and weight of models in the early days of the business, building hospitals for breast cancer, and essentially doing just about everything except actually including plus-size models in their main shows today.
Throughout the interview, Razek essentially claims ‘we were progressive in the 90s, isn’t that enough?’ And of course, the answer is no—the world continues to change.
That’s not the only thing they’ve come under fire for; late last year there was a string of pieces published which pointed out the lingerie empire’s history of cultural appropriation and unwillingness to use trans models.
These dramas led to a number of people leaving Victoria’s Secret, including the CEO. Razek remained with the company, and this sparked a boycott among fans.
Not televised, or not happening at all?
Following the two million dip in viewership last year, Victoria’s Secret has been fairly open about its hesitation to televise the show again, but at no point was the possibility of cancelling altogether on the table. Until now.
This is why the news of the show’s cancellation has been a little murky; people are unsure whether or not it’s possible the company will hold a private event instead.
Les Wexner—chief executive of L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret—has actually already made explicit that the show would no longer be televised. This came out in May after an email between her and CNBC was released which stated that L Brands had “decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward, we don’t believe network television is the right fit.”
Since then, the company has replaced their CEO, and released a statement promising that they are making a number of undisclosed changes. These changes include exploring “marketing, brand positioning, internal talent, real estate portfolio, and cost structure,” though no reference to the show was made.
Shanina Shaik breaks the news
“Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,” Model Shanina Shaik said in an interview with Australian publication, the Daily Telegraph. Shaik, who has been a long-time model for the show, went on to suggest the break was because “they’re trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show.”
“It’s not something I’m used to,” she continued, “because every year around this time I’m training like an Angel. But I’m sure in the future something will happen.”
This last comment seems to suggest that Victoria’s Secret could be planning to re-vitalise their public image with a new show—a project which could require plenty of work and a lot of minds to change.
Keeping up with the culture
Whatever the company does next, all eyes are on them, including ours! Despite holding a third of the lingerie market-share singlehandedly, a lot of industry commentators and fans have been talking about and supporting other brands.
A big talking point in lingerie is Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show, even almost a full calendar year after it took place.
“Everybody keeps talking about Rihanna’s show,” Razek said in his now-infamous Vogue interview. “If we had done Rihanna’s show, we would be accused of pandering without question.”
But when asked to explain why he thought that might be true, his answers rang hollow. “It’s hard to build a brand,” was his defence.
The truth is, younger generations don’t care to see just one type of body anymore, even if that body-type was progressive in the 90s. Not only that, consumers these days are much more connected to the brands they identify with, choosing to support and petition for brands that align with their own values and belief systems.
And while Razek may think that Rihanna is trying to take credit for ‘inventing’ inclusivity (cue the eye rolls 🙄), which Victoria’s Secret was an early proponent of, the SavagexFenty show was one that shook the industry. One of the reasons being that Rihanna included model Slick Woods, who was 9-months pregnant at the time, and gave birth later that night! (You go girl!)
Well, if Victoria’s Secret is planning a big comeback, it’s got a lot of catching up to do.
While we’re all waiting in eager anticipation for what’s next, subscribe to the Zizacious blog today and get the latest deets on style, wellness and life!