Will Victoria’s Secret first transgender model save them?

If we’re talking about lingeries and runways, Victoria’s Secret would probably be the first thing that comes to mind.

Not only is it a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of women’s lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products. But it also holds the biggest—and probably the most famous—fashion show of all time. People from all over the world tune in, not just because of the beautiful and luxurious lingerie showcased, but also because of the women wearing them: Victoria’s Secret Angels.

These ‘angels’ are the brand’s models that represent them in every facet. They are famous, influential, and seen as icons and idols of many all over the globe. With the level of fame that the brand and the models possess, their voices in almost anything and everything is heard loud and clear—which is why when the chief marketing officer of L Brands (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company), Ed Razek,  gave some bizarrely out-of-touch answers in an interview, lambasting critics as being “haters” who want too much diversity in the show and describing trans models as “transexuals”, we immediately unstanned for good.

The New York Times reports that Ed Razek’s retirement will add major turbulence to the once-dominant lingerie company. The brand—which for years defined female sexiness for many Americans—is struggling to reinvent itself in the #MeToo era. The lingerie company has clung to the idea that women should look sexy for men. And its stock is falling.

We get the same ideas and content every year: with skinny models, push-up bras, thongs and strappy stilettos, all of it is a near carbon copy of the one it first mounted in 1995, albeit with more feathers, sequins and wings. Not to mention the transphobic comments uttered by now-retired Ed Razek. Their 2019 fashion show is now canceled and they reason a ‘rebranding’ taking place.

And it seems like they were serious about it.

It was recently just announced that Victoria’s Secret is hiring its first openly trans model, Valentina Sampaio. Valentina is a Brazilian model and actress, who posted on her Instagram that she was working on a campaign for their Pink brand, which was confirmed by CNN.

We are all very happy for Valentina, giving representation for trans women with a brand that is so big and well-known. This could be a great platform for her and Victoria’s Secret, to reach out to the values of inclusivity and diversity worldwide.

Or is it?

As much as Valentina’s feat should be celebrated, is Victoria’s Secret a brand really worth saving? Are they really a worthwhile battleground for issues of representation when it comes to what women actually look like? It is still the leading U.S. lingerie brand, but its share of the market is falling rapidly. Sales are sagging and the company’s stock is down 41 percent this year.

“Victoria’s Secret is losing share to other brands because it’s out of touch,” said Paul Lejuez, a retail analyst says to The New York Times. “The way its marketing is out of touch. Women don’t want to be viewed as stereotypical sexy supermodels buying lingerie just to impress men.”

L Brands announced they’d be closing 53 VS stores this year following the accusations of non-inclusivity, and their biggest money-maker fashion show is canceled for the year.

Amidst all this, the news of Valentina joining the brand’s models give us a bit of hope. Is she the change that the brand needs to get in touch with the people? Or is Victoria’s Secret really falling into a hopeless decline?

Let us know what you think in the comments.



Photo courtesy of Valentina Sampaio’s Instagram Account

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