As Victoria’s Secret, one of the largest American lingerie brands, goes through a moment of major changes for the company, Ed Razek, the brand’s chief marketing officer, has retired. Razek, who has largely helped to shape the brand’s hypersexual image, drew the brand major backlash after having made transphobic and other exclusionary comments in the past.
“With the exception of Les, I’ve been with L Brands longer than anyone,” Razek wrote in a note to employees according to Bloomberg. Les Wexner is the chief executive officer of L Brands Inc, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret. “It was a tough conversation to have because, as some of you must know, we have shared so much together for so many years.”
Over that tenure Razek championed the annual blockbuster fashion show, and helped stock it full with his Angels. But in 2018, Razek made headlines when he defended the brand’s past of not casting transgender models in the show. "If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have," he told Vogue. As for specifically “transsexxuals,” as he called them: "I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader. They don’t talk about each other. I accept that." The backlash was swift with many speaking out on social media about the transphobia in the statement.
In May, a memo leaked saying that the brand would not televise the fashion show on network television. This came after the viewership had dropped by roughly two thirds since 2001. At the time, it was reported that the brand would introduce a “new kind of event” on different platforms. That idea foreshadowed Shania Shaik revealing to The Daily Telegraph that the show wouldn’t take place at all this year.
There’s no telling where the brand will go from here, but it’s clear that some big changes are afoot.