Victoria’s Secret is Getting an Inclusive New Makeover

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The VS Collective isn’t a book club for like-minded activists or a non-profit with an altruistic end goal. The VS Collective is a new-age feminist initiative from lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret. They describe the collective as “an unparalleled group of trailblazing partners who share a common goal to drive positive change.”

If you have questions, so do we.

The seven founding members are Adut Akech, Amande de Cadenet, Eileen Gu, Megan Rapinoe, Paloma Elsesser, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Valentina Sampaio. It’s no surprise that all of them are activists in their own right, often speaking about the need for diversity in their respective fields.

As for exactly what their roles entail, VS shares, “These extraordinary partners, with their unique backgrounds, interests, and passions will collaborate with us to create revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, new internal associate programs and rally support for causes vital to women.”

This announcement isn’t shocking if you’ve been paying attention to any of the news surrounding the lingerie conglomerate. In 2019, the once-lucrative, start-studded, and highly watched Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was canceled. Lexie Wexler, Chief Executive of VS’ parent company, wrote in an email to employees,” We have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward, we don’t believe network television is the right fit.” Viewership for the show has steadily been dropping, with its December 2018 ratings being the lowest in history. While there has been no word on whether or not we’ll see angel wings strutting down the runway again, the future for the fashion show doesn’t seem promising.

Executives shouldn’t be surprised. Victoria’s Secret Angels have long represented a beauty ideal that is now being challenged by women near and far. Victoria’s Secret’s push-up bra perfection stands out against the Aerie’s and Fenty’s of the world, brands that have embraced models of differing sizes, have rallied against retouching photos, and have encouraged women to show up more authentically.

In stark contrast to the polished VS fashion show, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show was a riotous display of movement, music, and creative direction. Even more fun, Fenty diverges from what seems perfectly sexy to embrace kink, fetish, and edge.

Fenty shows you — yes you! — can be sexy.

The VS’ rebrand tries to dig itself out of a hole. VS Angels epitomized sexy; they were the female form perfected, so who wouldn’t want to tune in and watch?

But anyone listening to the cultural conversation around gender knows there has been a decided shift. Sexiness isn’t seen as a fixed sum only available to the few; now, there’s some for everyone. Smart is sexy. Activism, too, is sexy. And brands like Fenty, Aerie, and a whole host of others have caught on.

Not being inclusive isn’t sustainable — financially or otherwise. Cue the VS Collective. How consumers will respond to Victoria’s Secret’s new rebrand remains to be seen, but, notably, the corporation is feeling the pressure of the times.

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