The Victoria’s Secret fashion show is gearing up for a comeback, but the glamorous tradition that began in 1995 has undergone a major change.
The American lingerie retailer is known for its runway shows, which feature scantily clad models and performances by renowned musicians.
But in recent years, consumers around the world have turned away from Victoria’s Secret in search of a more inclusive brand, leading to a decline in sales and the eventual end of their fashion show as we know it.
The company is undergoing a major rebrand after being criticized for promoting unrealistic body image with its non-inclusive culture and accused of failing to protect its models from sexual misconduct.
In August they launched a new The Icon Victoria’s Secret collection, while the new Victoria’s Secret World Tour, a feature-length film, aims to reimagine the show the world once loved with a new generation of models from around the world .
Victoria’s Secret is revamping its fashion show amid allegations of cultural appropriation, lack of body diversity, bullying and misogyny from former chief marketing officer Ed Razek (pictured center).
But behind the brand’s brilliant reinvention lies a past marred by scandals.
In 2012, Victoria’s Secret faced criticism after Karlie Kloss debuted a Native American-style headdress on the runway.
Similarly, that same year, Victoria’s Secret removed a newly launched lingerie collection titled “Go East” from its website after a particular outfit called “Sexy Little Geisha” was deemed racist by offended critics.
The “Eastern-inspired” cut-out teddy made from sheer mesh, which came with a matching removable obi belt, fan and chopsticks, was described by the lingerie giant as “your ticket to an exotic adventure.”
The outfit, modeled by Swedish-born model Candice Swanepoel, was seen by critics as a fetishization of Asian culture.
Four years later, the brand was accused of cultural appropriation and displaying “racist” underwear at its 2016 fashion show.
A host of famous faces, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, were among the Victoria’s Secret Angels who modeled the lingerie company’s designs on the runway.
They wore detailed creations, wings, tails and statement jewelry as they walked the runway in Paris.
However, many were unimpressed by the Asian and Mexican influences of some designs and accused the brand of cultural appropriation.
In an article titled “Why Can’t Victoria’s Secret Stop Designing Racist Lingerie?” that was later removed, Helin Jung criticized the brand in Cosmopolitan magazine.
In 2012, Victoria’s Secret removed a newly launched lingerie collection called “Go East” after critics labeled it racist
She accused the company of being condescending to customers in China by catering to their culture.
“Putting cultures aside, what stood out most were the emblems that came from Asia – particularly China,” she wrote.
Perhaps the most damning accusations against the brand come from the article published by The in 2020 New York Timeswhich included allegations of misogyny, bullying and harassment by former Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek.
The damaging article claimed that Ed Razek kissed models, asked them to sit on his lap and grabbed a model’s crotch before a show.
But before the news broke, there was already a scandal surrounding Razek, who had already come under fire in 2016 after he said that transgender models would not be used in their annual show because the presentation was “fantasy.”
Razek told Fashion about the earlier criticism: “Why doesn’t your show do this?” Shouldn’t transsexuals be in the series? No. No, I don’t think we should.
‘Okay, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It is a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s it.’
Victoria’s Secret also abandoned the idea of targeting supersized audiences under Razek’s leadership, reportedly because a TV special on the subject had failed 18 years earlier.
Following the New York Times investigation, 100 models signed a second open letter to the CEO of Victoria’s Secret, calling on him to address the company’s “culture of misogyny and abuse.”
The American lingerie company has been criticized for a lack of body diversity and an “entrenched culture of misogyny.”
The letter called on CEO John Mehas to end what the group called an “entrenched culture of misogyny” at the lingerie chain.
The letter’s signatories include catwalk stars such as Christy Turlington Burns, Iskra Lawrence, Edie Campbell, Amber Valletta and Felicity Hayward.
Models who have worked with Victoria’s Secret, such as Karen Elson and Caitriona Balfe, also co-signed the document.
They alleged that two top executives – Ed Razek and Les Wexner – fostered a climate of misogyny at Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands.
The group claimed they met with bosses at the company but their complaints were not taken seriously.
The letter states: “At a Model Alliance meeting with L Brands Chief Communications Officer Tammy Roberts Myers last September in New York City, it became clear that Victoria’s Secret is not taking these complaints seriously.”
The group continues to describe the company’s treatment of models as “human rights violations.”
The brand tried to shake off its bad reputation with its inclusive 2020 Christmas campaign (pictured).
In one of the most comprehensive campaigns, Victoria’s Secret’s 2020 holiday launch also featured plus-size model Candice Huffine (pictured).
It said: “Given the terrible revelations of the past year, this reaction is completely unacceptable.”
“Human rights violations cannot be stopped by rebranding the company.”
But later that year, the company tried to right its wrongs after repeatedly coming under fire for a lack of body diversity on its runways.
The brand tried to shake off its bad reputation with its new and inclusive Christmas campaign.
The campaign attempted to shrug off criticism of being outdated and unworldly by employing a more diverse cast of models.
Plus-size models posed as they showcased the retailer’s festive take on silk dresses, pajama sets and barely-there lingerie.
Transgender model Valentina Sampaio was also photographed modeling the latest designs.
Just days after Victoria’s Secret announced Valentina’s modeling position with the brand, Ed Wazek announced his resignation.
Plus-size models Candice Huffin and Devyn Garcia were also prominent additions to the new festive launch, as the brand strived to make its products accessible to customers of all shapes, sizes and ages.
In 2016, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was criticized for cultural appropriation, the collection was presented by model Kendall Jenner (pictured).
Top model Karlie Kloss (pictured) was also part of the 2016 fashion show, which left many viewers unimpressed
A recent TikTok shared by the lingerie brand shows Gigi Hadid in classic Victoria’s Secret attire as she talks about reviving the brand
Viewers on TikTok flocked to the comments section to share their excitement for the new show
Today, viewers watching Victoria’s Secret’s TikTok account can see top models from Gigi Hadid to Lila Moss talking about a “new way of partying” with a “reinvigorated” energy.
TikTok users flocked to the comments section to share their excitement, regardless of previous scandals.
Including one interview With Gigi Hadid talking about the upcoming show, one user wrote, “We’ve been WAITING!!!”
A second added: YES FINALLY.’
A third said: “AHHHHHH SO EXCITED.”
Another user wrote: “YESSS OLD VS IS BACKKK.”