Victoria’s Secret is set to ditch its ‘inclusive’ rebrand and return to its sexy roots following a £1.1 billion drop in revenue since 2020 – the latest victim of ‘go woke, go broke’. Fiona Golfar in the Mail says women will welcome the move. Here’s an excerpt.
When I worked at Vogue House as the fashion bible’s Editor-at-Large, there was a shop across the road on Bond Street that some of us staffers would visit — part retail therapy, part entertainment.
Back in the Noughties, Victoria’s Secret, with its Swarovski-studded, heavily under-wired bras and neon lacy thongs felt fun, aspirational — empowering, even. This was the era of Juicy Couture-clad WAGs, and being as overtly boudoir-sexy as a burlesque dancer wasn’t remotely frowned upon. I was seduced by the brand’s sexy half-cup lacy bras.
My then teenage daughter was obsessed with the celeb-crammed catwalk extravaganzas that it was famous for. She adored the Angels (as its top models are known) with their glamazonian proportions, mermaid hair and lashings of make-up. Adriana, Candice, Heidi, Alessandra …
Since then, however, Victoria’s Secret has gone through something of a self-censoring makeover. Long gone are the ‘Angels’; the feathers, the froth, that all-American sprinkle of stardust.
When the fashion world — along with the rest of the planet — went woke, the boardroom panicked.
The glitzy catwalk shows were dispensed with (the last ‘classic’ show, crammed with celebs, feathers and sparkles, was in 2018) and in came a procession of body-positive models.
The goal was both to attract Gen Z and retain their original customers — a difficult task at the best of times. But when I asked my daughter, now 25, if she’d shop at the new and improved Victoria’s Secret, she recoiled. Not only is it desperately ‘uncool’, it smacks of ‘inauthenticity’, which is a far greater crime, apparently.
It turns out its target audience — and the many social media critics — aren’t as gullible as these big brands might imagine. Not only can they smell the stench of desperation, they can spot a cynical marketing ploy from a mile away. Now, Victoria’s Secret executives are realising the truth of the mantra ‘go woke, go broke’. Revenue for this year is projected to be down £1.1 billion since 2020.
Surprise, surprise, the brand has now decided to bring sexy back and to prioritise sex appeal over today’s more body-positive images that its core consumer has shunned.
And I, for one, say hurrah for that! Because however much times have changed since the Angels’ glittery heyday, women still enjoy a healthy dose of aspiration. And when glamour is what I’m after, I don’t necessarily want to see myself or women like me.
Brands may think that women feel excluded and insecure every time they see a model thinner, younger and better-looking than themselves, but it’s just not the case. We know how we look and, by and large, the appearance of the women on billboards and catwalks won’t change that.
Worth reading in full.