The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was always over the top. It represented the ultimate objectification of women, but it was also supposed to be fanciful and fun.
But somewhere along the line, it fell out of step with changing tastes and newfound sensitivity about how body image, beauty and sexuality are portrayed.
The fashion conversation now is about size. diversity and body positivity—not airbrushed perfection–best represented by Rihanna’s rising brand, Savage x Fenty.
The same social forces have also cast a negative light on traditional beauty contests like Miss America and the Miss Universe pageants.
In fact, the same case can be made against lingerie in general. It’s always been about women dressing seductively to please men in the bedroom. How do you square that with feminism and the #MeToo movement?
The company acknowledged as much when it announced the show is being canceled this year on a call with financial analysts on Thursday (Nov. 21).
“As communicated previously, we think it’s important to evolve the marketing of Victoria’s Secret,” said Stuart Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer of L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret.
The decision may also have been driven by declining sales.
Sales have fallen by seven percent this season, compared to a two percent drop last year, a trend that has been more or less continuous since 2016.
Lingerie sales overall, however, have continued to rise.
Today women’s underwear makes up a four percent of US market, larger than at any point over the last four years. The segment is expected to be worth $12 billion domestically and $55.83 billion globally by 2024, according to industry figures.
But significantly, sales of push-up bras and other glamour items are giving way to sports bras and other practical items.
Lingerie is a category of women’s clothing that includes undergarments, sleepwear and lightweight robes.
Victoria’s Secret sales weren’t helped when the brand came under fire in November after an L Brands executive, made controversial comments about transgender and plus-size models during a Vogue interview.
Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek said he didn’t think the annual fashion shows should feature “transsexuals” because “the show is a fantasy.”
“It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” he said. “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.”
Razek later apologized for his remarks. The brand meanwhile, hired its first transgender model this year.
Revelations about former L Brands CEO Les Wexner, close relationship to late billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein also took a toll on the company.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has featured top models such as Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Elsa Hosk and Karlie Kloss.
In recent shows pop stars from Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles, to Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have performed.
Stuart has played down the company’s financial state and put the blame on the televised show’s falling ratings in 2018.
An estimated 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the fashion show last year, according to ABC. That’s down from 5 million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when it previously aired on CBS, according to BusinessInsider.
“Did we see specific material impact in terms of a short-term sales response to the airing of the fashion show? As a general matter, the answer to that question is no,” he said.
|Blast From the Past: Victoria’s Secret Models Heat Up London Catwalk (Click Photos to Enlarge!)|