American lingerie company Victoria’s Secret are partaking in an image overhaul in efforts to rebrand the company, but has the change come too late? (Image Source: The New York Times)

By Alexandra Bull | @ally_bull19

Say goodbye to the million-dollar Fantasy Bra, oversized wings and the playboy reverie of Victoria’s Secret.

Since 1977 Victoria’s Secret has been associated with supermodels and skimpy lingerie, but that is all about to change as they attempt to redefine the version of “sexy” that has long been associated with the brand.

As someone who grew up seeing the Victoria’s Secret angels plastered on almost every form of social media, this change is welcome but begs the question: is it all just for show?

As they overhaul their outdated marketing, Victoria’s Secret also plans to lighten up its stores, add new mannequins in different sizes and start selling nursing and post-mastectomy bras.

The brand also has a new executive team and will be forming a mostly female board. 

Instead of the infamous Angels, there will be seven women famous for their achievements rather than their looks.

The Victoria’s Secret fashion show, typically held at the end of the year, will also return in 2022, but with a new look and feel.

Megan Rapinoe, Eileen Gu, Paloma Elesser and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are just some of the faces of the new “VS Collective”, who will serve as brand advisors and ambassadors for the company.

In what might be one of the most extreme brand turnarounds, the new CEO of the business, Martin Waters said, “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Waters said.

Although the overhaul of the brand’s image will hopefully change Victoria’s Secret for the better, many people are still not happy with the potential improvements, saying that they have been made too late and they are only doing it now that women’s empowerment is “in style.”

As someone who grew up on the internet, seeing the images plastered over the social media pages of Victoria Secret models, my own self confidence and feeling of self-worth suffered. It took me a while to learn that this is what these women do for a living, and that half of the images are photoshopped too, so they do not even look like that.

Although these Angels are beautiful, there is no denying that it is important for young people growing up to see body positivity in the media – not the oversexualised and unrealistic standards that we have been seeing for so long. 

The representation that was so desperately needed when I, and many others, were growing up is coming too late. It is disappointing that it has taken this long for the changes to be made when there have been calls for years to diversify the brand, from people like American musician Halsey.  

The cultural influence and hold that Victoria’s Secret has on the world is not something that should be taken lightly, with the fashion show at the end of the year always filled with music superstars and watched by millions of people all over the world, just waiting to see what the brand will come up each year.

But the company was too slow, and only when Victoria’s Secret shares began to drop from 32 percent to 21 last year is when they decided it was time for a change.

So, is this brand turnaround all for the money and just for show?

Many believe that this shift has come too late and is a strategic move by Waters, now that women empowerment is “trendy” and “in”, rather than wanting to genuinely do better.

Numerous comments from various users on the popular Instagram accounts Diet Prada and Hello Giggles are voicing their opinions and they are far from positive. Many of them are saying they will continue to stick with independent, smaller businesses who are run by women and have always been advocating for inclusivity and body positivity.

On the other hand, there has also been a variety of comments that Victoria’s Secret is similar to brands such as Savage X Fenty – who have always been about body inclusivity and women empowerment since their early days – and that the overhaul is just “another CEO mansplaining what women want”.

Nonetheless, it will be extremely interesting to see what direction Victoria’s Secret are heading in. One can only hope that their change will be for the better – catering to all women as they should have from the very beginning. But I guess only time will tell.