Whether it was to be a part of it or own something of the brand, Victoria’s Secret had young girls in its grip of a fantasy-filled aesthetic that was desirable, sexy, and dreamy. But the once-upon-a-time leading fashion brand slowly lost its charm as the fashion industry opened its wings to evolving and created a more accepting environment which Victoria’s Secret had a hard time grasping. The slyly hidden misogyny, harming beauty standards, and harassment, amongst other heinous crimes, that the brand seemed to be affiliated with brought on huge losses and invigorated a detestable perception towards the brand over the years.
Victoria’s Secret has now announced its return to the red carpet with all the sexy clothing and divine lingerie with modern designs and interesting underwear that the brand has been known for. It’s all about the sassy, desirable, sexy, and flirty style that looks appealing and the new snippet of the “changed” persona is all about that. But the internet, as usual, has its doubt about where the true identity of the brand lies. We have noticed some mixed feelings about the comeback and it sure has invigorated our curiosity.
The Victoria's Secret fashion show is coming back THIS year! pic.twitter.com/viL9k7am9r— linda (@itgirlenergy) March 5, 2023
I'll reserve my outrage until we see if they actually have become inclusive or all this just merely performative— Desireé (@GogoLuthando) March 5, 2023
can’t wait! Hopefully they learn from past mistakes but also keep the sexiness and glamour that VS is known for— aisha (@PUNJABlPRINCESS) March 5, 2023
Bout time they act like women other than skinny and white exist 😴 too late— DatSlaps😎 (@iLuvVisa) March 5, 2023
Even Lizzo, who has her own shapewear line called Yitty shared a few words and insights on Victoria’s Secret comeback.
This is a win for inclusivity for inclusivity’s sake— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) March 5, 2023
But if brands start doing this only because they’ve received backlash then what happens when the ‘trends’ change again?
Do the CEOs of these companies value true inclusivity? Or do they just value money? https://t.co/ykmcUTLayQ
In 2018 when Vogue’s Nicole Phelps asked the accused Edward Razek (sex trafficking children and engaging in sex trafficking activities) whether Victoria’s Secret would diversify their approach in casting, the answer was a clear “no” referencing the VSFS to be a fantasy-based entertainment show. The backlash raised was massive and was in comparison to the Savage x Fenty show which was full of sexy modern designs and simply mesmerizing with its diverse cast of people of color, the LGBT+ community, and drag queens. This showcased the backward thinking of Victoria’s Secret that led to many canceling and disapproving strongly of the brand identity which led to the fall of the brand.
Image Credits: Getty Images
The brand thrived in the era which celebrated the “skinny girl” aesthetic that promoted the “heroine look” and size zero body figure where young girls starved themselves just so they could look like the red carpet walking models. Along with the toxic beauty standards, a huge part of the VSFS was where the models were put through some mistreatment and malicious experiences. And it wasn’t just the models who faced disturbing experiences. The toxic tendencies of the organization were brought to light in an article by New York Times in 2020 published, “The atmosphere was set at the top. Mr. Razek, the chief marketing officer, was perceived as Mr. Wexner’s proxy, leaving many employees with the impression he was invincible, according to current and former employees. On multiple occasions, Mr. Wexner himself was heard demeaning women.
What was most alarming to me, as someone who was always raised as an independent woman, was just how ingrained this behavior was,” said Casey Crowe Taylor, a former public relations employee at Victoria’s Secret who said she had witnessed Mr. Razek’s conduct. “This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored. They were punished.”
The brand tried to make a comeback in 2021 with plus-size models, LGBTQ+, and other models. The campaign though showed its elevated brand personality but seemed forceful in its attempt at inclusivity. The attempt was met with severe scrutiny and was questioned heavily. And even now with its new VSFS comeback, the question is, is the brand really leaning towards its evolution, or if it is just a business tactic that will only last with the fashion “trends” and then go back to its roots of toxicity?