Global lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret has officially retired its ‘angels’- the name given to it’s hyper-sexualised and scantily dressed models that walked the runway for the brand for years. The brand’s roster of angels, which have included supermodels like Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum to name a few, are not ‘culturally relevant’ anymore, said CEO Martin Waters in an interview published in The New York Times.
The brand has ditched its ‘angels’ and brought onboard seven new faces from diverse backgrounds, launching a partnership platform, #TheVSCollective. These include Indian actor, singer and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra as well as US soccer star and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Megan Rapinoe. Through the new initiative the brand aims to foster collaborations, encourage discussions and support causes vital to women. The first segment of #TheVSCollective will have the founding members of the initiative share their stories on a podcast.
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Priyanka said about her new role, “A new era always brings a sense of freedom, and the opportunity to play a part in shaping the evolution and future success of a heritage brand like Victoria’s Secret is so exciting to me. As we work together to chart the path forward in a new and impactful way, I’m not only looking forward to developing future collections that are inclusive of all people, but I am most excited for new customers and for those who have always been a customer of Victoria’s Secret to feel represented and like they belong.”
The Victoria’s Secret angels were perhaps the most iconic pop-culture defining phenomenon of the 90s and 2000s. The larger-than-life shows dipped in sheer extravagance. Think dramatic headgears, feathers, bejewelled lingerie. The shows just got bigger with every passing year. However, the harsh realities behind the opulence were unrealistic body standards, racial and ethnic exclusion and establishing women in their lingerie as an object of the ultimate male fantasy. These deep-rooted issues in the brand’s psyche have come to the forefront in the last 3 years, which called for a complete rebrand.
While the new initiative is certainly lauded, it comes after the brand faced heavy criticism for lack of diversity and body positivity in its shows, cultural appropriation and catering to a male fantasy. These allegations led to the cancellation of its annual runway show in 2019. However, a bigger jolt came when the brand lost a significant market share to Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty.
Over time, Victoria’s Secret has gradually been overshadowed by other lingerie brands that seek to promote body positivity and diversity through an accurate representation of women’s needs. “When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” said Waters in his New York Times interview. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.” The rebrand effort seeks to shift Victoria’s Secret from a brand that caters to the male fantasy, to a brand that caters to women’s needs. Only time will tell how successful the effort is, but it is definitely a step in the right direction!
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