By : Maheen Ahmed
Victoria’s Secret just announced and major shift to their brand and brand image, as they are forgoing their ionic models are making a shift to be more diverse, inclusive and more empowering towards a younger, female audience.
They have decided to sign on new faces for the brand, which include Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra, Adut Akech and Valentina Sampaio. They are definitely a unique and diverse group of people who already have some buzz and fame attached to their name.
The question is, is this enough? Is it right and will it be enough to save the company. This of course is a line of questions that comes to mind when one considers the history and controversies related to the mega fashion brand.
Victoria’s Secret came into being when husband and wife, Roy and Gaye Raymond wanted to revolutionize the lingerie industry in America. Roy was having a difficult time finding good lingerie at the store and felt uncomfortable doing so. He then thought of making a separate store dedicated only to lingerie in which husbands would feel comfortable and wives would feel confident.
The name was a reference to Queen Victoria, thus adding a sense of privacy and depth. The business was successful and they sold the company to Lex Wexner in the 1980s.
The true cultural impact of the fashion brand came during the late 1980’s and 1990’s when they started to higher super models and host larger than life fashion runway shows.
Models like Karen Mulder, Yasmin Ghuari and Jil Goodrace added a sense of elegance and fame for them, which would only grow with time.
The best models were hired and they became known as the Angels, the most iconic being Adriana Lima.
And who can forget Tyra Banks and Hiedi Klum.
The image they provoked through photo shoots and elaborate fashion shows was of confidence, a spectacle and celebration of an almost alien and full of life beauty.
The was a campish sex appeal, and the models would walk down a glittery run away in bejeweled bras and of course the angel wings.
It was larger than life.
They garnered record breaking views and had performances by the best singers and wear a spectacle of the time, and we are still not of a brand that has the exact same or even similar presentation.
But it was this sexiness, aggressive marketing and selective groups that would later become their eventual downfall among other controversies.
The problems with the brand were over exposure to the wrong crowd, indecent practices and sexual harassment by the owners, of course using and underpaying labor in developing countries, and having an almost mean girls club of models.
Everyone loved the models, but it was the representation or lack thereof that shifted the good will of the people. They didn’t want the excessive glamour anymore, and we now know exactly what the market is like in present times.
Victoria’s secret was that reminder of an unattainable beauty standard before social media got to remind us every day about our flaws.
It was over exposure that killed the cat.
Will the Rebranding Work?
They seem to be well set towards a new and fresh beginning, but a change or not that goes against the original philosophy is always risky. They’ve been an image of new high society for quite some time, and are infamous with regards to ethical practices.
In contemporary it will work because the taste is for causal, comfortable and neutral, nothing flamboyant or raunchy as the brand in known for.
It’s going to take a lot more than what people deem as perhaps pandering and performing progressiveness to get back in the market.
But I do predict in the next couple of years there will be sudden surge in nostalgia for the original Victoria’s secret angel look. People will pine for that time, without the memory of the issues and that will be a sight.