Victoria's Secret halts woke branding, going back to roots as sales dip


The U.S. lingerie chain said that it will focus on expanding its swim, sport and apparel offerings after a drop in sales the last two years following its woke, feminist makeover.

The company launched a rebranding effort two years ago to promote inclusivity. It featured lesbian soccer star Megan Rapinoe, transgender model Valentina Sampaio and other spokesmodels.

Reviews were favourable at the time, but it did not translate to increased sales.

Victoria’s Secret is projecting revenue of $6.2 billion this year, down 5% from 2022 and well below the $7.5 billion from 2020.

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At a presentation to investors in New York last week, the company said it was shifting gears to increase sales.

“Sexiness can be inclusive,” said Greg Unis, brand president of Victoria’s Secret and Pink, according to CNN editorial partner Business of Fashion. “Sexiness can celebrate the diverse experiences of our customers and that’s what we’re focused on.”

The financial drain the body-positive marketing was causing has forced the fashion chain to bring its runway shows back, in which it will blend sexiness with more inclusive initiatives.

Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski have been featured in more recent campaigns along with plus-size models Paloma Elsesser and Ali Tate-Cutler.

“Despite everyone’s best endeavors, it’s not been enough to carry the day,” said chief executive Martin Waters.

The company said it will update its nearly 1,400 Victoria’s Secret and Pink stores and will open 400 new locations outside North America while cutting costs.

In recent years, Victoria’s Secret has had to compete with online-only retailers along with brands targeting younger consumers like Aerie, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty and Kim Kardashian’s Skims line of shapewear.

However, the company is still the North American leader in underwear sales with about 20% of the market, according to its own numbers.

“We’ve been insufficiently differentiated in this difficult market,” Waters said. “(But) our ambition of being the world’s leading fashion retailer of intimates apparel is unchanged.”

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