Victoria's Secret is an American designer, manufacturer, and marketer of women's premium lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products. With 2012 sales of $6.12 billion, it is the largest American retailer of women's lingerie. Victoria's Secret is wholly owned by L Brands, a publicly traded company.

History

1977: Founding

Victoria's Secret was founded by Roy Raymond, and his wife Gaye, in San Francisco, California, on June 12, 1977.[6][195]

Eight years prior to founding Victoria's Secret, Raymond was embarrassed when purchasing lingerie for his wife at a department store. Newsweek reported him looking back on the incident from the vantage of 1981: "When I tried to buy lingerie for my wife," he recalls, "I was faced with racks of terry-cloth robes and ugly floral-print nylon nightgowns, and I always had the feeling the department store saleswomen thought I was an unwelcome intruder."

During the 1970s and 1980s, most women in America purchased "dowdy", "pragmatic", "foundation garments" by Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Jockey in packs of three from department stores and saved "fancier items" for "special occasions" like honeymoons.[9] "Lacy thongs and padded push-up bras" were niche products during this period found "alongside feathered boas and provocative pirate costumes at Frederick's of Hollywood" outside of the mainstream product offerings available at department stores.[9]

Raymond studied the lingerie market for eight years[10] before borrowing $40,000 from his parents and $40,000 from a bank to establish Victoria's Secret: a store in which men could feel comfortable buying lingerie.[195][12] The company's first store was located in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California.[195]

Raymond picked the name "Victoria" after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to associate with the refinement of the Victorian era. The "Secret" was what was hidden underneath the clothes. The “angels” comes from his wife being in a sorority where their mascot was an angel.[12]

1977–1980: The early years

Victoria's Secret grossed $500,000 in its first year of business,[195] enough to finance the expansion from a headquarters and warehouse to four new store locations[13] and a mail-order operation.[195]

By 1980, Raymond had added two more San Francisco stores at 2246 Union Street and 115 Wisconsin Street.

By 1982, the fourth store (still in the San Francisco area) was added at 395 Sutter Street. Victoria's Secret stayed at that location until 1990, when it moved to the larger Powell Street frontage of the Westin St. Francis.

In April 1982, Raymond sent out his 12th catalog; each catalog cost $3 (equivalent to $7.45 in 2016). Catalog sales now accounted for 55% of the company's $7 million annual sales.

The Victoria's Secret stores at this time were "a niche player" in the underwear market. The business was described as "more burlesque than Main Street."[15]

1982: Sale to The Limited

Raymond's philosophy of focusing on selling lingerie to male customers became increasingly unprofitable and Victoria's Secret headed for bankruptcy.[9]

In 1982, it had grown to five stores, a 40-page catalog, and was grossing $6 million annually.[195] Raymond sold Victoria's Secret Inc. to Leslie Wexner, creator of Limited Stores Inc of Columbus, Ohio, for $1 million[195] (though the figure was not disclosed until later).

1983: Strategy change

In 1983, Leslie Wexner revamped Victoria's Secret. He discarded the money-losing model of selling lingerie to male customers and replaced it with one that focused on female customers.[16] Victoria's Secret transformed from "more burlesque than Main Street" to a mainstay that sold broadly accepted underwear. The "new colors, patterns and styles that promised sexiness packaged in a tasteful, glamorous way and with the snob appeal of European luxury" were supposed to appeal to and appease female buyers.[16] To further this image, the Victoria's Secret catalog continued the practice that Raymond began:[17] listing the company's headquarters on catalogs at a fake London address, with the real headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.[16] The stores were redesigned to evoke 19th century England.

From at least 1985 through to 1993, Victoria's Secret sold men's underwear.

In 1986, four years after the sale, The New York Times commented, "in an industry where mark-downs have been the norm, the new emphasis is on style and service".

1983–1990: Expansion into malls

In the five years after the purchase, The Limited had transformed a three store boutique into a 346 store retailer.[17]

Howard Gross took over as president from his position as vice-president in 1985. In October of that year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Victoria's Secret was stealing market share from department stores;[22] in 1986, Victoria's Secret was the only national chain of lingerie stores.

The New York Times reported on Victoria's Secret's rapid expansion from four stores in 1982 to 100 in 1986, and analysts' expectations that it could expand to 400 by 1988.

In 1987, Victoria's Secret was reportedly among the "best-selling catalogs". In 1990, analysts estimated that sales had quadrupled in four years, making it one of the fastest growing mail-order businesses.

The New York Times described it as a "highly visible leader", saying it used "unabashedly sexy high-fashion photography to sell middle-priced underwear."

Victoria's Secret also released their own line of fragrances in 1992.

1990–1993: Persistent quality problems

By the early 1990s, Victoria's Secret faced a gap in management that led to the "once hot lingerie chain" to be "plagued by persistent quality problems".[25] Howard Gross, who had grown the company into a "lingerie empire" since Wexner's 1982 purchase, was moved to poorly performing L Brands subsidiary Limited Stores.[25] Business Week reported that "both divisions have suffered".[25]

1993–1999: Nichols resolves quality problems

Grace Nichols, who was President and CEO at that time,[196] worked to resolve the quality problems; their margins tightened, resulting in a slower growth of profits.[25]

Victoria's Secret introduced the Miracle Bra selling two million within the first year, but faced competition from Sara Lee's WonderBra a year later. The company responded to their rival with a TV campaign.

By 1998, Victoria's Secret's market share of the intimate apparel market was 14 percent.[30] That year Victoria's Secret also entered the $3.5 billion cosmetic market.[197]

In 1999, the company aimed to increase its coverage with the Body by Victoria brand.[198]

Early 2000s: Decelerating growth leads to brand overhaul

In May 2000, Wexner installed Sharen Jester Turney, previously of Neiman Marcus Direct, as the new chief executive of Victoria's Secret Direct to turn around catalog sales that were lagging behind other divisions.[31] Forbes reported Turney articulating, as she flipped through a Victoria's Secret catalog, "We need to quit focusing on all that cleavage."

In 2000, Turney began to redefine Victoria's Secret catalog from "breasts—spilling over the tops of black, purple and reptile-print underthings" to one that would appeal to an "upscale customer who now feels more comfortable buying La Perla or Wolford lingerie."; "dimming the hooker looks" such as "tight jeans and stilettos"; and moving from "a substitute for Playboy in some dorm rooms," to something closer to a Vogue lifestyle layout, where lingerie, sleepwear, clothes and cosmetics appear throughout the catalog.

Beginning in 2000, Grace Nichols, CEO of Victoria's Secret Direct, led a similar change at Victoria's Secret's stores—moving away from an evocation of 1800s England (or a Victorian bordello).

2006–2008: Growth

By 2006, Victoria's Secret's 1,000 stores across the United States accounted for one third of all purchases in the intimate apparel industry.

In May 2006, Wexner promoted Sharen Jester Turney from the Victoria's Secret catalog and online units to lead the whole company.[15] In 2008, she acknowledged "product quality that doesn't equal the brand's hype".[33]

In September 2006, Victoria's Secret reportedly tried to make their catalog feel more like magazines by head-hunting writers from Women's Wear Daily.[34]

2016–present: Resignation of Turney

In February 2016, Turney stepped down as CEO of Victoria's Secret after serving for a decade.[199][200][201]

Products

Current products

Pink

Swimwear

In 2002, swimwear was introduced and available via the web site and catalog; in the last three years, the swimwear has become more readily available in stores.

In April 2016 Chairman and CEO Leslie H. Wexner released this statement reported by :

"Coming off a record year, now is the best time to make improvements…going to from best to even better. We are making those changes to accelerate our growth and to strengthen the business for the long term by narrowing our focus and simplifying our operating model."

"I am certain that these changes are necessary for our industry-leading brands to reach their significant potential…nonetheless, decisions about people are the most difficult ones to make, and we are taking care to support associates who are being affected by these changes."

Recent product history

In 2010, Victoria's Secret launched the Incredible bra.[39]

In 2012, Victoria's Secret launched the Victoria's Secret Designer Collection described by Vogue as the company's "first high end lingerie line."[40]

In 2016, Victoria's Secret stopped selling swimwear, shoes, accessories and apparel that were only sold in online Victoria's Secret stores to stay more focused on the lingerie, fragrances and sleepwear that are still available in stores and online.

In 2017 Victoria's Secret began to put more emphasis on bralettes (bras without underwire, often intended to be worn visibly) and sports bras (under the Victoria Sport label) to appeal to a younger customer base.[202]

Victoria's Secret sales

Victoria's Secret products that are left over after the season are sold at reduced prices through their online store. Large sales occur on Black Friday and the twice yearly Semi-Annual Sale. In addition, the Victoria's Secret online store runs a continual series of temporary special offers, most of which require the customer to enter a promotion code during checkout.

Industry

Competitors

In 1998, Gap launched a direct competitor to Victoria's Secret: GapBody.[127]

In 2008, Women's Wear Daily reported that while "Victoria's Secret dominates" in the lingerie market "the competition is intensifying".

American Eagle Outfitters also launched a direct competitor to Victoria's Secret, the underwear line Aerie, which is currently their biggest competitor within the younger customers.

In 2015 Lane Bryant took a direct dig with their campaign geared towards plus size women and placing emphasizes on sizes not carried by Victoria's Secret.

Reception

Victoria's Secret is known for its catalogs and its annual fashion show, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and has been credited with single-handedly transforming "America's conception of lingerie"[13] by pioneering "sexy underwear as fashion" and "lingerie mainstream entertainment."[4] The societal manifestation is "the increased cultural acceptance of shopping for undies" in the United States.[125]

Victoria's Secret is credited with "transforming lingerie from a slightly embarrassing taboo into an accessible, even routine accessory." In 2006, The New York Times reported that traditional fashion was influenced by intimate apparel "in part because of the influence of Victoria's Secret – and ubiquitous, sexually charged come-hither marketing."

Operating divisions

Victoria Secret's operations are organized into three divisions: Victoria's Secret Stores (stores), Victoria's Secret Direct (online and catalog operations), and Victoria's Secret Beauty (their bath and cosmetics line). The company does business in the following retail formats: general merchandise stores, apparel stores.

Victoria's Secret stores

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Victoria's Secret on Lexington Avenue, New York

Throughout the 1980s, Victoria's Secret took over the market using "faux-British veneer, romantic styling and soft classical music."[30][134] In 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that Victoria's Secret continued the practice of putting "on a British air—or what the Ohio-based chain thinks Americans believe is British. Boudoirish. Tony. Upscale."[131]

During the 1990s, Victoria's Secret saw a 30% increase in store sales after the use of analyzing in their data warehouse in which specific store the styles, sizes and color of which bras were selling.[135]

As of 2010, there are 1,000 Victoria's Secret lingerie stores and 100 independent Victoria's Secret Beauty Stores in the United States, mostly in shopping centers. They sell a range of bras, panties, hosiery, cosmetics, sleepwear, and other products. Victoria's Secret mails more than 400 million of its catalogs per year.[136]

During the 1990s, store sizes grew from the average 1,400 square feet to between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet.[36] In 2002, the average Victoria's Secret store was 6,000 square feet.

International expansion

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A store display

Up until the early 2000s, management at Victoria's Secret actively decided to not expand outside the United States.[41] The drive to continue growing coupled with facing a maturing of the American retail market led to a change in that decision and to expand Victoria's Secret outside the United States.[41] Victoria's Secret announced the company's plan to expand into Canada in 2010.[138] The company opened 23 stores stores in Canada with locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec,[139] Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.

In November 2005, the company opened its first boutique in the United Kingdom at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5 with the help of World Duty Free.[140] This was followed in 2009 with several Victoria's Secret Travel and Tourism stores residing within airports outside the United States. These include locations in Schiphol International Airport, The Netherlands.[141][142]

Victoria's Secret opened their first store located at the Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford, London[143] on July 24, 2012.[144] Their flagship 40,386-square-foot- (3,752.0 m2) store on New Bond Street, London opened on August 29, 2012,[145] and there will be further nationwide expansion across the United Kingdom. Victoria's Secret executive vice president and chief administrative officer Martyn R Redgrave told Women's Wear Daily "That's what we're looking to do as we expand, in the UK in particular, and those will be company-owned and operated".[146] Since 2013, stores opened across the United Kingdom in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol and London including Westfield London, Bluewater and Brent Cross. As of 2016, there are 15 stores in the United Kingdom.

International franchises

In 2010, Victoria's Secret expanded with franchises internationally.

The first franchise store in Latin America opened in Isla Margarita, Venezuela on June 25, 2010 followed by other stores in the country, and in Bogota, Colombia, in July 2012 selling beauty products and accessories. Angel's Group, the Colombian company operating the franchise, is planning to open 10 stores in Colombia. Victoria's Secret is also planning on opening a store in the exclusive Multiplaza Mall in San Salvador, El Salvador.[147]

In 2010, M.H. Alshaya Co. opened the first Victoria's Secret store in the Middle East region in Kuwait. M.H. Alshaya Co. operates the Victoria's Secret franchise located in the Marina Mall selling products including "cosmetic and branded accessories, but it has left out the brand's infamous lingerie line".[148]

The brand's first Caribbean store opened in November 2011 at Plaza Las Americas in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[149] Two stores also opened in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic at the Agora,[150] (mainly selling beauty products and accessories) and Sambil Santo Domingo[151] malls in August 2012 and October 2012, respectively.

The first Polish store opened in July 2012 at the Złote Tarasy shopping mall in Warsaw and is operated by M.H. Alshaya Co. It was the first Victoria's Secret franchise store in Europe,[152] and it opened just a day before the first British store in London.[146]

The first Serbian Victoria's Secret store opened in January 2014 at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade.[153] This was the first Victoria's Secret store to open in the former Yugoslavia.

Victoria's Secret Direct

Catalog

Prior to the emergence of e-commerce, the Victoria's Secret's catalogs provided both an informative and exciting experience in the comfort of the consumer's home.[135]

The catalog under Raymond's leadership took the form of an upmarket version of Frederick's of Hollywood lingerie catalog being more sensuous than the catalog published under the future leadership of The Limited.[154] In 1982 the Victoria's Secret catalog cost $3.

The New York Times reported that the financial success of Victoria's Secret catalogs influenced other catalogs, which changed to present lingerie as "romantic and sensual but tasteful" "in which models are photographed in ladylike poses against elegant backgrounds."

This led to Victoria's Secret dominating the catalog field for "lingerie and sexy nightwear." The catalogs allowed for consumers to review the entire spectrum of product offerings, along the axes of style, color and fabric. Victoria's Secret accepted catalog orders via telephone 24 hours a day.[135]

Victoria's Secret's catalog offers a more diverse range of merchandise.

The Los Angeles Times described the catalog in 2000 as having achieved "an almost cult-like following."[131]

E-commerce

In 1995 Victoria's Secret began building its e-commerce website which the company launched after three years of development at 6 p.m. December 4, 1998, using the domain VictoriasSecret.com. Twenty minutes later the first order was placed on the website from a Littleton, Colorado, customer at 6:20 p.m.[155]

It was reported that the three year development was a result of the company's concern of rolling out a half-baked website that could "discourage return visits".

Viewers who logged onto the Victoria's Secret's website to view the company's first webcast of their fashion show on February 3, 1999, were unable to view the webcast due to the Internet infrastructure Victoria Secret's selected was unable to meet user demand causing some users to be unable to view the webcast.[156]

Victoria's Secret Beauty

The Limited, Inc in 1998 created Intimate Beauty Corporation with a mandate to establish a group of beauty businesses with Victoria's Secret Beauty being the first company in the firm's portfolio.

In November 2012 Susie Coulter became president of Victoria's Secret Beauty; the company's beauty division located in New York City[157]

Corporate affairs

Ownership

Victoria's Secret was originally owned by "The Limited".[158] In 2002 Wexner reincorporated Victoria's Secret into the Limited; previously Victoria's Secret's parent company was Intimate Brands, a separately traded entity whose President was Ed Razek.[15][52]

By 2006, 72% of Limited Brands' revenue—and almost all of their profits—came from their Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works units.

On July 10, 2007, the Victoria's Secret parent company, Limited Brands, sold a 75% interest in their apparel brands, Limited Stores and Express to Sun Capital Partners, to focus on expanding their Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works units. The immediate impact of the sale resulted in Limited Brands taking a $42 million after-tax loss.

Management structure

Victoria's Secret stores

In 1985, Howard Gross was promoted to president from vice president. In 1991 Grace Nichols replaced Gross as president of Victoria's Secret Stores. Nichols previously had been "executive vice president and general merchandise manager of Limited's lingerie division."[161]

In 1998, Cynthia A. Fields became the president & chief executive of the company (when it was a division of Intimate Brands Inc.).

Victoria's Secret Direct

In May 2000, Wexner installed Sharen Jester Turney, who had previously worked at Neiman Marcus Direct, as the new chief executive of Victoria's Secret Direct.

Victoria's Secret Beauty

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Victoria's Secret in Las Vegas, Nevada

In May 2006, Christine Beauchamp was named president and CEO of Victoria's Secret Beauty. Beauchamp was succeeded by Shashi Batra in 2009, who became president of Victoria's Secret Beauty.[163] Robin Burns was CEO of Victoria's Secret Beauty.[41]

Environmental record

After two years of pressure from environmentalist groups, Victoria's Secret's parent firm and a conservation group reached an agreement to make the lingerie retailer's catalog more environmentally friendly in 2006. The catalog would no longer be made of pulp supplied from any woodland caribou habitat range in Canada, unless it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The catalogs will also be made of 10 percent recycled paper.[165]

The company has bought organic and fair trade-grown cotton to make some of its panties.[166][167]

On March 4, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Victoria's Secret in Moseley v. V Secret Catalogue, Inc. that there must be proof of actual harm to the trademark.[168][169]

Manufacturing

In 2006 it was reported that Victoria's Secret paid workers $7 per day to make bras for them in Thai factories.[170]

One-tenth of all Victoria's Secret bras are sourced via Intimate Fashions, a manufacturer with factories in the South Indian city of Guduvanchery.[171]

As a by-result of the Jordan–United States Free Trade Agreement, which retreated from standards established in the 1990s, working conditions in Jordan have been compared to slave labour.[173]

Corporate identity

Name

Prior to the 1982 sale, the company's business name was Victoria's Secret, Inc. then afterwards the name was changed to Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc. In 2005, the company changed to Victoria's Secret Stores, LLC.

Marketing partners

In the early 1980s, Victoria's Secret used FCB/Leber Katz Partners for the development of their brand, marketing, and advertising.

In 1989, FCB/Leber Katz Partners and Victoria's Secret executed a national advertising campaign featuring for the first time in the company's history a ten-page glossy insert that appeared in the November issue of Elle, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Victoria, House Beautiful, Bon Appetit, New Woman, and People magazines.[36] Victoria's Secret used the insert to announce their expansion into the toiletries and fragrance business.[36] Up until the ten-page insert, the company's growth had been driven by their catalog, sporadic ads in fashion publications, and word of mouth.[36] Catalogs were discontinued in early 2016.

Marketing

Over the course of the company's evolution, Victoria's Secret "has gone from being value-driven to creating a luxury-shopping experience and an aura of fashion associated with its product" which has been driven marketing.[41]

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is an annual "elaborate marketing tool for Limited Brands".[42] The show is a mix of "beautiful models scantily clad in lingerie" and A-list entertainers "And every year, it becomes less about fashion and more about show".[42]

The company gained notoriety in the early 1990s after it began to use supermodels in its advertising and fashion shows. Throughout the 2000s, Victoria's Secret has turned down celebrity models and endorsements.[43]

In 1999, Victoria's Secret's 30 second Super Bowl advertisement led to one million visits to the company's website within an hour of airing.[44]

In 2004, Victoria's Secret featured Bob Dylan in an advertisement to test new marketing possibilities while Victoria's Secret dropped their fashion show for 2004 as a result of the fallout from the Janet Jackson/Super Bowl incident that caused complaints from women's groups.[92][46][47]

The brand turned to social networking in 2009, opening an official Facebook page and later on official Twitter and Pinterest accounts. It also expanded its website to feature behind-the-scenes content about its catalog and commercial shoots, as well as its fashion show.

The company created a campaign to market its "Body" bra line called "The Perfect Body." The campaign has elicited substantial controversy, with many sources saying it will lower women's self-esteem because it does not embrace all body types.[49]

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

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Map of Victoria's Secret stores in the United States, as of August 2011

In 1995, Victoria's Secret began holding their annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which is broadcast on primetime American television.[50] Starting with the 1995 fashion show, they are "a combination of self-assured strutting for women and voyeuristic pleasures for men—and lingerie becomes mainstream entertainment."[4]

Ken Weil, vice president at Victoria's Secret, and Tim Plzak, responsible for IT at Victoria's Secret's parent company Intimate Brands, led Victoria's Secret's first-ever online streaming of their fashion show in 1999.[52] The 18 minutes webcast streamed February 2, 1999, was at the time the Internet's "biggest event" since inception.[52] The 1999 webcast was reported as a failure by a number of newspapers on account of some user's inability to watch the show featuring Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Stephanie Seymour[53] as a result of Victoria's Secret's technology falling short being able to meet the online user demand resulting in network congestion and users who could see the webcast receiving jerky frames.[52] In all, the company's website saw over 1.5 million visits while the Broadcast.com's computer's were designed to handle between 250,000 and 500,000 simultaneous viewers.[54] In total, 1.5 million viewers either attempted or viewed the webcast.

The 1999 webcast served to create a database for Victoria's Secret of over 500,000 current and potential customers by requiring users to submit their contact details to view the webcast.[52] The next spring Victoria's Secret avoided technical issues by partnering with Broadcast.com, America Online, and Microsoft.[52] The 2000 webcast attracted more than two million viewers.[31]

By 2011, the budget for the fashion show was $12 million up from the first show's budget of $120,000.[55]

Victoria's Secret Angels

Victoria's Secret started working with renowned models in the early 1990s, with the hiring of Stephanie Seymour, Karen Mulder, Yasmeen Ghauri, and Jill Goodacre.[3][57][58] These models helped the brand gain notice and soon enough were featured in televised commercials.[57] Veronica Webb is one of the original Victoria's Secret model.[205]

Angels is one of Victoria's Secret's lingerie lines, which was launched in 1997, with a commercial featuring Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Peštová, Stephanie Seymour, and Tyra Banks as well as pop star Tom Jones.[59][60] The commercial was a major success and the Angels began to be featured in various commercials, alongside other contract models for the brand such as Yasmeen Ghauri,[61] Inés Rivero, and Laetitia Casta. From then onwards, the term Angel started to become synonymous with being a contracted spokesmodel for the brand and in February 1998, the Angels made their runway debut at Victoria's Secret's 4th annual fashion show, with Chandra North filling in for Christensen.

Seymour, Mulder, Pestova, Banks, Casta, and Heidi Klum were all featured in both of Victoria's Secret webcast and took part in the promotion as the brand's contract models.[64] Starting 2001, the show has been televised and usually features the year's Angel line-up at the start of the show, starting with Pestova, Banks, Klum, and Gisele Bundchen In 2004, due to the Super Bowl controversy, instead of a televised show, Victoria's Secret sent its five contract models (Banks, Klum, Bundchen, Adriana Lima, and Alessandra Ambrosio) on a tour called Angels Across America, as by then, the word had become synonymous with Victoria's Secret spokesmodels.[65] The last original Angel, Tyra Banks, departed the following year, as Karolina Kurkova, Selita Ebanks, and Izabel Goulart were hired.[66]

Among other recognitions, the Victoria's Secret Angels were chosen to be part of People magazine's annual "100 Most Beautiful People in the World" issue in 2007[18] and became the first trademark awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 13, 2007, with Klum, Lima, Ambrosio, Kurkova, Goulart, Ebanks, Marisa Miller, and Miranda Kerr at hand.[68] Alongside new Angel Doutzen Kroes, they also took part in the grand reopening of the Fontainebleau in Miami in 2008.[69] In 2009, it was widely reported that Candice Swanepoel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Chanel Iman, Emanuela de Paula and Lindsay Ellingson had been hired by the brand.[70] However, De Paula was absent from the fashion show and Erin Heatherton was credited in her place, alongside the Angels (Klum, Ambrosio, Kerr, Miller, Kroes, and Behati Prinsloo, with Lima being on maternity leave). The brand also held a nationwide competition to hire a new "runway Angel" (as are dubbed all the models who walk in the show), Kylie Bisutti was crowned as the winner but soon parted ways with the brand.[72] In the following year-and-a-half Swanepoel, Huntington-Whiteley, Iman, Heatherton, and Ellingson all were revealed as Angels.

Various tours have been held featuring the Angels, such as the Bombshell Tour in 2010 (featuring Laura Croggon, Sophia Timpano, Katie Bryan, and new recruit Lily Aldridge), a VSX tour in 2013 (featuring Swanepoel, Ambrosio, Ellingson, and Aldridge) and a Swim Tour in 2013 (featuring Swanepoel, Ellingson, and Heatherton). The Angels have been heavily featured on the brand's social media, including on a short-lived Facebook application in 2013-2014 highlighting the Angels (then including Lima, Swanepoel, Ellingson, Aldridge, and Karlie Kloss) as well as Lais Ribeiro, Toni Garrn, and Barbara Palvin.

Ellingson, Kroes, and Kloss all departed soon after the 2014 fashion show, leaving the brand with only 5 Angels.[74][7] In 2015, the Angels as well as models Elsa Hosk, Joan Smalls, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Jasmine Tookes, Stella Maxwell, and Monika 'Jac' Jagaciak were featured on the brand's first ever Swim Special. Soon after, in the brand's biggest group hiring ever, all but Smalls were revealed as Angels, along with longtime catalog regulars Lais Ribeiro and Sara Sampaio as well as Kate Grigorieva, Taylor Marie Hill, and Romee Strijd.[8][10] The following year, Jagaciak and Griegorieva exited, while catalog regular Josephine Skriver was added to the roster.[78] In 2017, Alessandra Ambrosio announced that the yearly fashion show would be her last.[206]

Other notable spokesmodels for the brand have included: Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigová, Oluchi Onweagba,[8] Jessica Stam,[81] Ana Beatriz Barros,[82] and Bregje Heinen[83] as well as a handful of celebrities such as Taylor Momsen.[84]

Victoria's Secret Angels
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Victoria's Secret Beauty logo
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Victoria's Secret
  1. There have been various instances where the fashion show credits included models who weren't Angels but were prominently featured by the brand, such as Candice Swanepoel, Lindsay Ellingson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Erin Heatherton, and Behati Prinsloo in 2009, Lais Ribeiro in 2011, PINK model Elsa Hosk in 2013 and Hosk, Ribeiro, Jasmine Tookes, Martha Hunt, and Stella Maxwell in 2014. All of them later went on to become Angels.
  2. Most Angels started working with the company years prior to signing an Angel contract. Listed above are the dates of first published or aired campaigns or, by default, first runway show or event.
  3. Stephanie Seymour was a fashion show host in 1995.
  4. Chandra North was featured as an Angel solely during the 1998 fashion show due to Christensen's absence.
  5. Heidi Klum was a fashion show host in 2002, 2006–2009.
  6. Lindsay Ellingson was first featured on VS All Access in 2010 but was only credited as an Angel for the fashion show from the following year onward.
  7. 10 Angels were added at the same time.

Pink spokesmodels

Criticism and controversy

Influence on sociocultural body image norms–2008

In the article "Victoria’s Dirty Secret: How Sociocultural Norms Influence Adolescent Girls and Women" written by Strahan, Lafrance, Wilson, and Ethier from Wilfrid Laurier University along with Spencer and Zanna from the University of Waterloo[211] have stated: "Women's body dissatisfaction is influenced by sociocultural norms for ideal appearance that are pervasive in society and particularly directed at women." These norms tell women that they are valued for their bodies, physical appearance, and scale of attractiveness. Girls as young as 10 years old start dieting because they are struggling with their weight and body perception. This will continue throughout their life span. Victoria's Secret sends a message to these adolescent girls and women that their models are the standard of beauty. The models are shown on TV commercials, ads, and magazines meaning it is seen on an everyday basis. Girls are comparing themselves with these high unrealistic standards that is captivated by the media. Women in these ads are highly objectified, idealized, and sexualized. If women feel they have to live up to this sociocultural norm standard, it is only telling men that it is okay to objectify and sexualize women. The article concludes by stating: "Exposure to societal messages that reflect the sociocultural norm for ideal appearance has a negative effect on women."[211]

Formaldehyde lawsuits–2009

In 2009, Victoria's Secret was sued several times. The lawsuits alleged that defective underwear contained formaldehyde that caused severe rashes on women who wore them. Six cases were filed in Ohio and two in Florida. At least 17 other suits were filed in six other states after January 2008.[174][175][176] The plaintiff refused to submit to a simple patch test to determine the precise cause of her reaction and her case was later withdrawn.[212] The Formaldehyde Council issued a statement that formaldehyde quickly dissipates in air, water and sunlight.[178]

Child labor–2012

In 2012, a Victoria's Secret supplier was investigated for use of child labor in harvesting cotton used to make its products.[181]

Zephyrs lawsuit–2012

Also in 2012, Victoria's Secret was sued by Zephyrs, "accused of breaching a 2001 agreement and selling cheap 'knockoffs' of the company's stockings."[182]

Go East lingerie collection–2012

The company drew criticism for a newly released lingerie collection titled "Go East" whose tagline pledged to women the capacity to "indulge in touches of eastern delight with lingerie inspired by the exquisite beauty of secret Japanese gardens."[146][183] The collection included a mesh teddy "Sexy Little Geisha" featuring "flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals".

The Wall Street Journal reported that the collection was "accessorized with a miniature fan and a kimono-esque obi sash."

Victoria's Secret removed the Asian-themed collection "that traded in sexualized, generic pan-Asian ethnic stereotypes."[184][185]

Perfect body campaign–2014

In 2014, a petition against the newly released lingerie collection called "Body" was created when the poster ads displayed the words 'THE PERFECT "BODY"' over well-known VS Angels. The petition, while becoming popular across social media, demanded that Victoria's Secret "apologise and take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign sends out about women’s bodies and how they should be judged."

The petition also demanded a change in the wording on Victoria's Secret advertisements for their bra range Body, to something that does not promote unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty," asking the company to not use such harmful marketing in the future. Petitioners created the hashtag "#iamperfect", which trended on Twitter for body shaming women. The petition had over 30,000 signatures.

Although there was never a formal apology released, Victoria's Secret took note of the petition and changed the words on their ad campaign to 'A BODY FOR EVERY BODY.'

Cultural Appropriation- 2016

At the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the brand was accused of "cultural appropriation" during the segment "The Road Ahead" that drew inspiration from Chinese culture. Kendall Jenner’s flame tail, Elsa Hosk’s dragon costume, and Adriana Lima’s embroidered thigh-high boots is what caused an uproar because many fans thought that it was inappropriate for women of other cultures to wear those items that meant so much to the Chinese culture. The reason behind Victoria's Secret including this segment to the 2016 fashion show is because of their recent expansion into the Chinese market. They thought it would be a good way to appeal to the new Chinese customer. No apology or statement was released from the brand. [213]

See also