News & Runway

What Happened to Victoria’s Secret?

Martha Hunt kicks off summer with the new T-Shirt Bra Cotton Collection at Victoria's Secret on May 24, 2018 in Santa Monica, California

Martha Hunt kicks off summer with the new T-Shirt Bra Cotton Collection at Victoria’s Secret on May 24, 2018 in Santa Monica, California; Image: Getty

The fashion industry is changing and brands are finally recognizing that there is more than one standard of beauty. But change is slow and many brands still stubbornly stick to outdated formulas and refuse to adapt to cultural and societal demands.

Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands recently reported an unexpected drop in the lingerie line’s June comparable sales, even after it extended the semi-annual sale and made huge price cuts. Comfort level and high prices have reportedly contributed to the brand’s plummeting status, but the bigger and more crucial issue appears to have something to do with being culturally relevant.

Victoria’s Secret has been criticized for a lack of diversity in its annual catwalk shows as well as its promotion of unrealistic standards of beauty. A consumer study conducted by Wells Fargo Securities in 2017 found that more than half of the respondents get a “forced” or “fake” vibe from the brand.

“Brand imagery is now leaning toward more natural looks and relatable beauty,” analysts of the study wrote. “However, given how fundamental the ‘sexy’ image is to the Victoria’s Secret brand, we believe a full-brand pivot to catch up with current trends may be challenging to execute.” Analysts also believe that the lingerie brand recognizes these shifts and is trying to make necessary changes. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any strong or continuous efforts from the brand to confirm this.

Consequently, Victoria’s Secret is now losing its market to Aerie, a lingerie retailer and sub-brand of American Eagle Outfitters. The competitor has received praise for its empowering, inclusive and unretouched ad campaigns. The brand’s most recent ad features women with disabilities and medical issues.

It’s time Victoria’s Secret learns that it pays to embrace change because different is the new norm. See below for the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.