For decades, Victoria’s Secret has championed a singular ideal of beauty: one that is primarily white, cisgender, thin, young, and able-bodied — and has done so unapologetically. Finally, the brand is embracing change. After massive public backlash, the underwear giant is attempting a significant rebrand. The once-dominant retailer is moving away from the narrow view of sexuality that it promoted since its inception, particularly through its now-defunct fashion shows.
Since 2019, Victoria’s Secret has launched several initiatives to evolve the brand and respond to critics. The company hired its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, in August 2019, followed by its first plus-size model, Ali Tate Cutler, in October.
“Based on what women have told us – talking to women over the past year and a half to understand where we’ve fallen off track as a brand and how we need to show up for women going forward – is what they want us to change.”, Victoria’ Martha Pease, Saw Secret’s chief marketing officer, told WWD in June 2021 “The answers we got back were about a diverse mindset and relating to women and showing more types of women, so that all types of women could see themselves within the brand. I think the challenge for us is actually delivering that. By making this very public statement. That we’re committed to transformation and that we’re committed to showing up for women, means we have to do it.”
The company announced a new platform, The VS Collective, a group of women who will take part in shaping the future of underwear. Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, Adut Akech, Priyanka Chopra, Megan Rapinoe, Valentina Sampaio, Paloma Elsaesser and Naomi Osaka are all in the ensemble.
“We’re proud to announce an exciting new partnership platform, #TheVSCollective, designed to shape the future of Victoria’s Secret,” the brand wrote in a June 2021 press release. “These extraordinary partners, with their unique backgrounds, interests and passions, will collaborate with us to create revolutionary product collections, engaging and inspiring content, new internal collaborative programs and rally support for causes important to women.”
Victoria’s Secret has more work to do, but the company is ready to rebuild trust with shoppers who once flocked to its stores. Ahead, meet the people VS is tapping to help lead the brand into a new chapter.
– Additional reporting by Karena Meredith