Oh the 90’s. The rise of Destiny’s Child, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, all denim everything, Pulp Fiction, Titanic, and Jurassic Park were the top 3 movies of the decade, and a little brand called Victoria’s Secret began their rise to fame. You know the brand, and you most likely know the famous term “Victoria’s Secret Angel”. You have probably heard of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show televised every year, earning over $50 million in 2017. Victoria’s Secret has taken the female undergarment and lingerie industry by storm. They account for one third of the women’s underwear market, leaving everyone in their tracks.

The first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was in 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Victoria’s Secret began calling their models Angels, and the term stuck. From then, the Angel term grew widely. Many famous models today got their start from walking the famous runway and being called a “Victoria’s Secret Angel”.

The Digital Impact

The VS fashion show first began as a televised event in the 1990s, to now what it is today. A week long extravaganza full of press and media. Conferences, Facebook Live videos, and hundreds of Instagram posts and Tweets by the Angels are seen each year. The Angels have become huge A-List celebrities in today’s digital society. For example, Adriana Lima has 12.3 million instagram followers. Behati Prinsloo has 5.7 million, and Candice Swanepoel with 13 million. These are just three of the many famous Angels. Many, if not all, of the Angels have over a million followers on Instagram and Twitter. Digital media has played a huge role in the Victoria’s Secret Angel in recent years. Aside from social media, many Angels have various media platforms. These include YouTube channels, clothing or makeup brands, and many various modeling careers all stemming from being a VS Angel.

So body positivity… What had Victoria’s Secret done for the movement?

The answer- in simple terms, is nothing. In fact, in recent months Victoria’s Secret has seen a drop in sales and many stores closing due to people pushing against the brand. Jan Singer, the Victoria’s Secret CEO, recently stepped down due to the heightened criticism. She realized that many younger shoppers were turning to more inclusive brands, and she did not want to be a part of the Victoria’s Secret image any longer.

So how have they impacted the body positivity world?

Since the 1990s, the brand has had way more of an impact than many may think. There are countless reports and articles about the brand and how they have affected the industry. Most articles are negative in nature, and people are becoming really disappointed in the brand. The image they have portrayed since the 1990s has constantly remained the same. The models are 5’ 2”, and remain a size 2, and they have same silky long hair perfectly curled. Sure, they have models from other races and nationalities, which was a huge accomplishment for them, but the size factor has always remained the same.

Many other brands such as Aerie, ThirdLove, and Savage X Fenty have changed the game in this industry. They make clothing for all sizes, makeup for all skin colors, and have models of all sizes representing their brands.

So why hasn’t Victoria’s Secret followed the trend?

Glamour Magazine wrote an article after studying the Victoria’s Secret brand. It also looked at their digital impact, and how people have reacted to it. They wrote the article right before the 2018 Victoria’s Secret fashion show, and was able to make contact with some executives in the Victoria’s Secret parent company, L Brands. The magazine looked at many competing companies, who all have decided to promote inclusivity in their business models. The other brands have models of all races, and many of these models have gone onto social media to talk about Victoria’s Secret, and how they disagree with the company.

Monica Mitro, Executive Vice President of Victoria’s Secret Public Relations, commented on the claims that Victoria’s Secret is not inclusive. She talked about how they have all races represented in their fashion show, and representing them as VS Angels. She talked about how they cast models at all different areas in their careers, and she stated, “Victoria’s Secret believes that body positivity dialogue should be positive. It should not be done by putting other women down, including the 60 women that are excited to be in our Fashion Show”.

So, what else?

The article also included interviews with casting directors and executives from other companies. Some people talked about how Victoria’s Secret goes along with the “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” term. Since the 1990s Victoria’s Secret’s business and casting model has been working very well for them. Why fix it now? Gilleon Smith, casting director for Chromat, stated “I think that Victoria’s Secret has had this formula that they use, and they have the same people continuing on the legacy and the tradition of what they’ve always done, and that is their barometer or metric for success.”

Many people interviewed in the article commented on the decline of sales and of viewings for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The fashion show in 2017 reported record low ratings, as they were down 30%. The stores are also reporting the lowest sales of all time. The executives have commented on the drop, and say a new business model is on the horizon, with a new CEO taking over in the start of 2019.

With all of these facts and figures, what does the future of Victoria’s Secret look like moving forward? It seems to me the brand isn’t going anywhere, and will keep their model as they have since the 90’s. This fashion mogul has influenced women all over the world since the 1990s, and it will continue to make waves in the fashion and body positivity world for years to come. Digital media has had a huge impact on this brand and on the industry, as seen with many people pushing against the brand thanks to social media. The digital impact can also be seen through the many girls and women that aspire to look like or be like the Victoria’s Secret Angels. Since they have such a large social media following, many see their posts and become affected by the body positivity messages they send, or don’t send. 

Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? Leave me a comment below or send me a Tweet! In case you missed last weeks post, have a read here!

Talk to you next week!

~Katie