After the lingerie company’s top manager dared to drop a couple of fat and transphobic remarks last year, many lost hope of the giant taking the path of diversity. However, it did, with some questioning whether VS means it for real.
Victoria’s Secret has launched a fresh lingerie campaign recently, but their choice of models, including a transgender person and a plus-size one celebrating diversity as they look into the camera in a set of semi-transparent black pieces of underwear, quickly ended up in critics’ crosshairs.
The wording, as well as the photo shoot itself, was largely seen as a rehab attempt following a number of controversies that have engulfed the lingerie titan over the past few years.
As early as November last year, CMO Edward Razek made headlines with his transgender- and fat-phobic remarks to Vogue, triggering a wave of sweeping backlash, while months later, the controversy peaked as an indie brand lashed out at VS for allegedly copying its designs. On top of this, however disappointing it was for VS’ management, owner Les Wexner’s ties to the late sex trafficker and abuser Jeffrey Epstein likewise came under increased scrutiny, miring the reputation of the company at large.
In a more recent development, the head of stores, April Hoult, resigned on Thursday for unspecified reasons, according to a CNBC report, while The New York Times reported later in the day that 50 people were made redundant in the company.
Witnessing the firm’s attempted redo, many remembered the MeToo movement, and the way it led VS’ sales to fall, although the company’s market share still amounted to a staggering 24 percent.
Many critics viewed the company’s “dated” campaign as not really a credo that the lingerie brand’s marketing specialists put all their faith and devotion into. According to Fashionista Editor-in-Chief Tyler McCall, Tate Cutler, VS’ first plus-size model, “developed a reputation as being fat-shaming”, while Refinery29’s Channing Hargrove dubbed the hiring of Tate Cutler “too little too late”, which comes as a recurrent stance on social media.
Evers went on to explain that VS’ rivals like Aerie and Third Love have long taken the path of relatable advertising, which they believe should go with the times. “Keep this in perspective—Aerie launched their campaign of ‘real women’ in 2014. That’s five years ago. It took Victoria’s Secret five years to [do the same]?”
Elizabeth Shobert, VP of marketing and digital strategy for StyleSage, appears to echo the same stance on the largely perceived belated marketing attempt:
VS’ scepticism towards diversity has long been debated online, with Twitter users expressing how appalled they are about the company’s refined campaigns: