Victoria’s Secret is returning to its hyper-sexualized roots after attempting to rebrand as a more inclusive retailer, according to reports.
The lingerie empire has seen a decline in sales since overhauling its image by replacing its traditional ‘Angel’ supermodels with more diverse models, including footballer Megan Rapinoe and transgender model Valentina Sampaio.
Matters of fashion reporter Cathleen Chen noted that the move “received positive reviews online but never translated into sales.”
Bosses are now trying to bring back the “sexiness” of the brand, a CNN report said on Tuesday. Victoria’s Secret emphasized that the new direction has nothing to do with its inclusivity efforts, as one executive said, “sex can be inclusive.”
The brand’s revenue is expected to reach $6.2 billion in 2023, down 5 percent from last year and even lower than 2020, when the brand earned $7.5 billion.
Victoria’s Secret is returning to its hyper-sexualized roots after a rebranding attempt. Cara Delevingne is seen modeling in an old-school Victoria’s Secret show in 2012
The brand’s new focus on inclusivity had failed to generate sales, experts said. Left: Miranda Kerr is pictured at a show in 2012. Right: (L-R) Joan Smalls, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid backstage at a show in 2016
CEO Martin Waters reportedly said: ‘The reality is that we all know the performance of the company and so there must be something that is not going to plan.
‘It can’t all be done in the green status. And the stark reality is that the most important aspect of the work we needed to do in 2023, which is strengthening the core of the business, is not where we need them to be.”
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret and Pink brand president Greg Unis told investors: “Sexiness can celebrate the diverse experiences of our customers and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The brand now plans to roll out activewear and swimwear, modernize existing stores and open 400 new locations outside the US.
Victoria’s Secret was famous for its sultry catwalk shows with the likes of Cara Delevingne and Miranda Kerr as ‘Angels’.
But such marketing came under fire from campaigners, forcing the company to ax its signature catwalk shows.
Bella Hadid will be pictured in a more inclusive Victoria’s Secret promotional campaign in February this year
Hadid told Marie Claire: “What attracted me to come back was that they came to me and really proved to me that Victoria’s Secret has changed so drastically behind the scenes.”
The brand was embroiled in controversy in 2020 when a New York Times investigation revealed a “culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment” at the company.
Les Wexner, the CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s then-parent company L Brands, was also outed for his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Wexner was accused of turning a blind eye to allegations of sexual harassment at the company.
In 2021, Rapinoe said the old marketing sent a “really harmful message,” adding that the marketing was “patriarchal and sexist, focusing not only on what it meant to be sexy, but also on what the clothes were trying to to be achieved through a male lens and by what men desire.’
Rapino launched her own sports collection at the retailer as part of the rebrand, alongside model Bella Hadid.
Hadid told Marie Claire at the time, “What made me come back was that they came to me and really proved to me that Victoria’s Secret has changed so drastically behind the scenes.”
Recent campaigns have also included stars like Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski, as well as larger models and body positivity advocates including Paloma Elsesser and Ali Tate-Cutler.
Victoria’s Secret is also under pressure to keep up with more inclusive underwear brands like Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty.
Kim Kardashian’s Skims has also become popular because of its inclusive reporting. The shapewear brand raised funding in July at a $4 billion valuation.
This year it launched ‘Victoria’s Secret: The Tour ’23’ in an attempt to revive the catwalk show format.
Among those starring in the show were Julia Fox, Kate Moss’ daughter Lila and Jude Law’s daughter Iris.
A spokesperson told DailyMail.com: ‘We are absolutely committed to inclusivity, as our brand president stated at our investor day.’