If you’ve been on the internet this month, you’d probably have known about the great Victoria’s Secret scandal. The company’s Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek had commented on the lack of diversity of models featured on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to Vogue. No, he didn’t say they would try harder. Instead, he said, “‘Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?’ No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.”
He added, “We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world. We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”
His remarks sparked fury among the online community, and he later on apologised for his “insensitive” statement on Twitter. He wrote, “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it… But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
Please read this important message from Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer, L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret). pic.twitter.com/CW8BztmOaM
— Victoria's Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 10, 2018
There was no mention of plus-size models anywhere in the apology. But during the Vogue interview, he tried to justify his views by mentioning that VS has a sister division, Lane Bryant, which focuses on plus-size lingerie.
“We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.”
This lack of inclusivity doesn’t sit well with shoppers who are now savvier when it comes to social causes and equality. Moreover, thanks to other brands including Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Victoria’s Secret’s stance against inclusivity stick out like a sore thumb. After all, we should be past the age of glorifying certain body types and genders, so with that statement, the brand seems to suggest they’re stuck in the old ways.
But can they make a comeback?
Two weeks ago, they announced a change in CEO. Their current CEO Jan Singer will be stepping down after joining the brand a little over two years. Denise Landman, the CEO for teen-centric PINK brand, will also be leaving at the end of the year.
John Mehas is set to take over the CEO role at Victoria’s Secret. L Brands chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner said, “Our new leaders are coming in with a fresh perspective and looking at everything… our marketing, brand positioning, internal talent, real estate portfolio and cost structure,” he added.
We don’t know if this “fresh perspective” on “brand positioning” would mean the brand will finally embrace inclusivity, but guess we’ll find out soon.
In the meantime, the brand recently launched a collection with Mary Katrantzou. Combining the iconic prints and bright colours the designer features in her collections with the lingerie brand’s signature sexy designs, the collection is a pop-tastic display of cute underwear and Instagram worthy active-wear, with a jumpsuit even being thrown into the mix.
The collection is available exclusively at Victoria’s Secret flagship store in Mandarin Gallery. Here are just some of the pieces available.
Text: Hidayah Idris, Genevieve Rogers