Victoria’s Secret Faces Backlash Amid Exec’s Comments on Inclusivity


September 2022 Sales (LATEST)

Victoria’s Secret seems to be falling out of fashion.

In the recent past, we have seen brands like Thirdlove and Savage x Fenty emerge. The latter even made a memorable show during the New York Fashion Week for being among the most inclusive runways as of yet, featuring women of different ethnicities, sizes, and phases in life. Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret has fallen behind, and that can be based on both opinion as well as numbers. The brand still is the market leader in the United States, but that’s hardly good news for the company as its profits continue to slip down through the years; the likeability of the label seems to be sliding the same way. Recent comments by Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brands have not helped improve the brand’s repute among the already tech savvy market.

In an interview with Vogue, Razek and Monica Mitro, executive vice president of public relations for Victoria’s Secret, were asked regarding the inclusion of plus size and transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. While the annual special has strived to include more women of different ethnicities and backgrounds, there was not much variety in size or in gender. Razek responded by saying that they have considered it previously—there was even an attempt for a show in the noughties for plus sizes, but there was no interest in it. As for transgender models, Razek justified by saying that Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a fantasy, and that the brand can’t be everything to everyone.

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The statements made by the CMO immediately faced backlash. Many have sworn off buying the label’s products and encouraged others to do the same. Others have shared the unpleasant experiences they had going into its brick and mortar stores. Transgender models have posted on their accounts, proving that they can sell the fantasy just as much as your usual VS models could. ThirdLove even shot back at Razek’s statement that Victoria’s Secret isn’t anyone’s third love, saying that they are living in reality instead of a fantasy, specifically one that VS mainly markets to straight men.

Razek eventually released a statement through the VS Twitter account, stating that “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive.” He continues the apology, “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it. It was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.

This took place just a few weeks shy of this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which will be aired on the first week of December. Other news related to the label have also emerged, such as Adriana Lima walking the VS runway for the last time as well as the CEO Jan Singer resigning, but Razek’s statements had people talking for a significant amount of time, zooming in on what seems to be the label’s lack of interest in diversifying. It can be remembered that when the show first took place, its models that had athletic bodies seemed to be out of place in an industry that embraced thinner and paler beauties. We’ve seen more or less the same from the brand in the last twenty and so years, but how the brand tackles the changing opinion remains to be seen.

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Image credits: Corey Tenold, Thomas Concordia/Getty Images, W Magazine, Landon Nordeman for The New York Times

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