New York: International lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret is reportedly bidding goodbye to its Angels and hiring athletes, activists and actors to replace the brand’s hypersexualized models – who are under scrutiny for their embodiment of male fantasy, as its new representatives.
The US store, roped in a new roster led by American soccer star Megan Rapinoe, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and LGBTQ model and activist Valentina Sampaio, the first transgender model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. More women are set to join.
We are proud to announce an exciting new partnership platform, #TheVSCollective, designed to shape the future of Victoria’s Secret. @adutakech1 @amandadecadenet @mPinoe @priyankachopra Eileen Gu, Paloma Elsesser, Valentina Sampaio https://t.co/IdYrmLWkPM pic.twitter.com/bd9QMhCz2W
— Victoria’s Secret (@VictoriasSecret) June 16, 2021
Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup champion, has been the face of American women’s soccer for nearly a decade.
“Often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry,” Rapinoe, a lesbian and activist for women’s and LGBTQ rights, said in a statement.
“I’m thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of all women,” she added.
While, ‘White Tiger’ actress Priyanka Chopra said she remembers being gifted her first item from Victoria’s Secret when she was 16. “I am most excited for new customers and for those who have always been a customer of Victoria’s Secret, to feel represented and like they belong,” Chopra said in the release.
Meanwhile, Tyra Banks, the first Black Victoria’s Secret cover model, also praised the rebranding decision in a heartwarming Instagram post on Thursday.
“First is hard. First is lonely. But first is necessary. First is crucial so that a door can be opened for others to fit through,” she wrote alongside a photo of her on the runway.
“Within a 10 year span starting in 1995, I was the first Black @VictoriasSecret contract model ever. The first Black Victoria’s Secret Cover model. The first Black VS model to do so many other groundbreaking things with the brand – as well as other brands. But after a first, must come a flow of more. A flow of different. A flow of unique.”
Though she retired from the runway 16 years ago, she said she is proud to witness “a beauty revolution.”
“To the new collective of badass ROLE models, I may have cracked that door open, but y’all are charging through. Keep on keepin’ on until we all LOSE COUNT of how many are breaking through behind you.”
VS which brought sexy lingerie to the masses in the 1970s and then made billions, has been overshadowed in recent years by brands that have openly embrace both bodily and ethnic diversity.
Criticized for its objectification of women, Victoria’s Secret in 2019 abandoned its famed fashion show, a globally televised event that saw women parade down the catwalk in barely-there lingerie replete with gems, feathers and lace.
“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” said chief executive Martin Waters in an interview with the New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
One of the first companies to step into the void of Victoria’s Secret’s dimming star was Savage X Fenty, a lingerie company launched by singer Rihanna in 2018 which is now valued at $1 billion, according to an estimate by Forbes magazine.
In an attempt to make up for lost ground, Victoria’s Secret, which saw sales drop 7.7 percent in 2019 even before the pandemic, launched its new collective of female brand representatives on Wednesday.
Victoria’s Secret plans to resume its fashion show in 2022, but in a very different format, Waters told the Times.
The parent company of Victoria’s Secret, L Brands,
More changes are expected to come to Victoria’s Secret as parent company L Brands announced in May that it had spun off the lingerie company, in an attempt to separate it from its other holdings.