Victoria won’t have to keep their secret much longer.
Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is poised to close 53 stores nationwide this year after a less-than-healthy 2018 financial situation, CNN reports. Sales at the store fell 7% in the most recent quarter and the company has lost almost 3.8 million customers, presumably to more inclusive brands like Aerie or Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, and even bigger retailers like Target.
Victoria’s Secret has embraced the same model of advertising for some time — airbrushed models, all of whom are sample size, catering to the patriarchal male gaze. Meanwhile, smaller online retailers have pivoted to more inclusive ads featuring women of all sizes and identities, with visuals captured for and by women.
The plummeting sales follow a bad year of publicity for the brand, which faced a huge controversy when Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer for its parent company L Brands, made transphobic and fatphobic remarks in an interview with Vogue.
“So it’s like, ‘Why don’t you do [a size] 50? Why don’t you do 60? Why don’t you do 24?’ It’s like, ‘Why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?’” Razek said about the brand’s hallmark, annual event. “No. No, 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.”
CEO Jan Singer resigned shortly after the scandal, presumably due to poor sales performance. The December airing of the annual fashion show garnered its lowest ratings ever. And pop star Halsey, who performed at the event, spoke out against Razek’s comments.
As Out wrote at the time of the remarks, “There is still a Victoria's Secret inside every mall in America, which means that trans women across the country are still being reminded every day that we are unwelcome and unwanted. We're being told that in the ideal fantasy world of this company, which for so long has helped the standard of female beauty, we don't exist — and that's already our reality.”
Any prospect to turn the brand around or shift its identity at this point doesn’t look too great, one analyst told CNN. "People identify Victoria's Secret with what's it been for the last 20 years — very sexy and airbrushed models," analyst Janine Stichter said. "If they were going to pivot now, I don't think it would come off as authentic. They don't have a great option."
Meanwhile, it was just announced that Rihanna, who stole the hearts of audiences everywhere by launching Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty, a lingerie brand that featured a diverse cast and campaign, will debut a luxury fashion line with the high-fashion corporation LVMH, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.