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06/18/2021

Victoria’s Secret steps up turnaround with totally new look

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture

Victoria’s Secret is making over its brand image — and it doesn’t include supermodels.

The lingerie retailer is launching a new marketing campaign starring a diverse slate of models of all shapes and sizes. It also announced a new initiative, called The VS Collective, that will work to create “new associate programs, revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, and rally support for causes vital to women,” Victoria’s Secret stated. 

The move comes as the brand’s parent company, L Brands,  is set to separate Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works into two publicly traded companies through a tax-free spinoff that should be completed in August 2021. When the split happens, the Victoria’s Secret board will be made up of seven directors, six of whom will be women, including the chair. The lone male of the board will be Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters. 

The initial members of the VS Collective include a diverse lineup of women who are all advocates for women’s empowerment, diversity and inclusion. Some of the members include soccer star and gender equity advocate Megan Rapinoe; biracial plus-size model and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser; Sudanese refugee, mental wellness supporter Adut Akechand model; and actress and entrepreneur.Priyanka Chopra Jonas. 

"At Victoria's Secret, we are on an incredible journey to become the world's leading advocate for women," said Waters. "This is a dramatic shift for our brand, and it's a shift that we embrace from our core. These new initiatives are just the beginning. We are energized and humbled by the work ahead of us."

It's a dramatic change for a brand that has come under heavy criticism — and seen its sales slip — in recent years for its lack of diversity and overtly sexy image, best exemplified by its annual fashion show extravaganza in which super-skinny models wearing gigantic angel wings and scanty lingerie strutted down the catwalk.  For all the criticism (and increased competition), Victoria's Secret remains a powerhouse, with a 21% of the U.S. women's intimates market, down from 32% in 2015, according to Euromonitor International. 

"When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond," Waters told the New York Times. "We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what woman want."

 For all the criticism (and increased competition), Victoria's Secret remains a powerhouse, with a 21% of the U.S. women's underwear market, down from 32% in 2015, according to Euromonitor International, reported the Times.  Hanesbrands is its closest competitor, with a 16% share.

Victoria's Secret is also launching The VS Global Fund for Women's Cancers with longstanding partner, Pelotonia. The initiative will fund innovative research projects aimed at progressing treatments and cures for women's cancers and investing in the next generation of women scientists who represent the diverse population they serve. 

Through the partnership, Victoria's Secret will grant and award at least $5 million annually to examine and address racial and gender inequities and unlock new innovations that improve cancer outcomes for all women.  Annual grants will be awarded to individual scientists or research "dream teams" who are collaborating across institutions.