It was just a year ago when Ed Razek, Victoria’s Secret Chief Marketing Officer, took it upon himself to alienate every single customer who was not an “aggressively fit” cis-gendered White woman. You can read my initial thoughts on that: Victoria’s Secret Allows Chief Marketing Officer to Further Seal Brand’s Fate. In that relatively short time, Victoria’s Secret has lost CEO Jan Singer, indefinitely canceled its iconic annual fashion show after 24 years, and reported yet another drastic decline in sales. However, the true icing on the cake is that Ed Razek conveniently retired after an almost forty-year history with the brand. This came right on the heels of controversy surrounding both Ed and Chief Executive Leslie Wexner’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein. From the outside, it appears the Victoria’s Secret brand is in shambles. Struggling to resuscitate an entity that has already flatlined and rigor mortis has begun to set in.
What is a company to do when they begin losing money? Surprise, surprise, they start to promote inclusivity. Victoria’s Secret is no different. At the most recent L Brands investor meeting, the company unveiled its new campaign pitch. A quick social media search of the sister brand, PINK shows an image featuring two(!!) Black women, one of which is plus size. Also, a visit to the PINK website has imagery of beautiful women with curvier frames. A body type that the brand has previously shunned and avoided like the plague. Neither brand sells anything over a size XL. This begs the question on everyone’s mind: Will Victoria’s Secret and PINK be expanding their size range? The short answer is probably not considering the fact that both brands are on a downward spiral. However, that will not stop them from putting out contradictory imaging in hopes to soak up any and all sales they can with the existing mediocre product.
For the majority of the plus-size community, even the bare minimum of more inclusive models is too little, too late. L Brands made zero attempts to distance itself from Ed Razek’s comments. They also made no effort to improve the design or quality of the products. The rise of Cacique (also owned by L Brands), Addition Elle, and Playful Promises among others, proved to be a huge game changer for the intimates industry. Suddenly, begging for a seat at the Victoria’s Secret table became unnecessary and unwanted. Also, Savage x Fenty is picking up the torch for lingerie fashion shows. The first of which is set to air via Amazon Prime on September 20th. The fate of PINK and Victoria’s Secret is still to be determined. One thing I can guarantee is that the remainder of the fall from grace will be interesting to watch in real-time. It will also be a great case study for business and marketing courses for future generations to come.