One of the country’s most iconic lingerie brands is experiencing some financial struggles after making a massive cultural change in how they approach their business.
After moving on from the iconic Victoria’s Secret Angels and replacing those models with left-wing soccer star and activist Megan Rapinoe among others while hiring the company’s first biologically male transgender model, the company is now discovering that going woke wasn’t a great financial decision.
The New York Post that the sexy lingerie company’s sales have since fallen by 4.5 percent to $1.5 billion in the most recent quarter, noting that comparable sales from the same period year-over-year have tanked 8 percent.
The Post adds:
The turnaround is aimed at shedding the company’s decades-old elitist image — it ditched the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show last year and no longer uses imagery of its famous Angels — to respond to critics who decried it as a sexist, exclusionary company. Slammed for being out of touch, the company’s sales had steadily declined for several years.
Now it offers plus sizes and features plus-size models in its marketing as well as selling masectomy bras for the first time. It also launched its first-ever Mother’s Day campaign last year. Its stores are brighter and it’s championing more causes highlighting women’s achievements, tapping famous athletes like Megan Rapinoe and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas to represent the brand.
But the decisions may be responsible for a wave of ‘downsizing’: In an effort to shave $40 million in expenses, the Ohio-based company is firing 160 management-level employees.
“When we first announced our repositioning, we got a significant amount of mail from people who said, ‘This is terrible, you’re scorching the earth, you’re spoiling your brand. We love the way it was before. Why are you changing it?’” Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters said, going on to deny that the changes hurt the company.
“Over the last year, we have progressed a thoughtful revolution of our business by redefining the VS brand and rebuilding our strategy for growth,” Martin said. He added that most of those complaining were men and others “who don’t subscribe to the values that we subscribe to.”
Following the company’s decision to hire the transgender male model, VS chief marketing officer Ed Razek, who criticized the move, resigned.
“It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show?” Razek told Vogue in 2018, when asked about so-called inclusivity. “No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”
By 2021, the iconic VS Angels were dropped and replaced with a new promotional campaign called the “VS Collective,” The Daily Wire reported.
“Fashion is a business of change. We must evolve and change to grow,” CEO Leslie Wexner in 2019 in announcing the end of the Angels fashion show broadcast. “With that in mind, we have decided to rethink the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”
Interestingly — but perhaps not surprisingly — after Victoria’s Secret tapped Rapinoe for its brand, the soccer star ripped the company for its “patriarchal” and “sexist” past.
The marketing was “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired,” she to The New York Times. “And it was very much marketed toward younger women.”
She added the Victoria’s Secret Angles were “really harmful.”