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Home International The Rise and Fall of Victoria's Secret

The Rise and Fall of Victoria’s Secret

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L marks (LB), The parent company of Victoria’s Secret and one of the largest American clothing companies, sold a controlling stake of the lingerie brand for a private equity firm Thursday. Leslie Wexner, 82-year-old CEO and president of L Brands, will step down from the company he founded.
It’s a staggering decline for a brand that once defined femininity for millions of American women.

Victoria’s Secret began in 1977 by American businessman Roy Raymond, who wanted men and women to be comfortable shopping for lingerie in a high-end store. In 1982, Raymond sold the San Francisco bankruptcy company for $ 1 million to Wexner. Two years after Wexner took it over, Victoria’s Secret made $ 500 million in sales. In the early 1990s, the brand generated $ 1 billion in annual revenue and became an American empire for lingerie retailers.

In 1995, Victoria’s Secret launched the brand’s first annual fashion show, which features supermodels sporting lingerie barely there wearing huge wings, heavy makeup and six-inch heels. The show quickly became a pop culture phenomenon and managed to attract millions of viewers every year since its debut aired in 1999.

But the prime time television show was widely criticized for promoting unrealistic beauty ideals and suffered from a declining audience. In 2018, the show attracted only 3.3 million viewers, compared to 9.7 million in 2013. In 2019, the brand announced that it would the fashion show no longer airs.

“The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was that I didn’t think it was an image that truly reflected who I am and the type of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful,” she said. Karlie Kloss stated in an interview with Vogue magazine in 2019. Kloss modeled for Victoria’s Secret from 2011 to 2015 and is a sister-in-law of Ivanka Trump.

The lingerie chain has lost its grip on shoppers by offering underwear that emphasizes erotic comfort. Sales growth in stores open at least a year has tumbled for six consecutive quarters.

Since the social norms that define beauty and sensuality have changed over the years, Victoria’s Secret has joined the same playbook and has lost a large number of customers compared to its competitors. By contrast, some rival lingerie brands and startups present models with different body types, skin colors and gender identity, an inclusive marketing strategy that has won them a good slice of the market.

Although still the largest player in the lingerie sector, the brand’s market share dropped to 24% in 2018, down from 31.7% in 2013, according to a women’s underwear study conducted by Coresight Research.

Aerie, a lingerie brand owned by American Eagle Outfitters, started introducing non-models to its marketing and advertised unpolished photos of women wearing its products in 2014. Aerie generated $ 646 million in revenue in the year. fiscal 2018, with a 6% increase on the previous year. Over 60% of the growth of American Eagle Outfitters was generated by the lingerie brand.

Target also announced a new brand of bra and underwear in February 2019, which would feature women “in all different shapes and sizes”. Start-ups, such as ThirdLove and Lively, also aim to compete with Victoria’s Secrets using similar marketing strategies.

Analysts suggest that these competing brands present a significant challenge for Victoria’s Secret.

“The edge [of Victoria’s Secret] he will have to be careful in outlining a new course that resonates with consumers and faces new competitive challenges such as the rise of rival brands such as Aerie, “said Neil Saunders, CEO of GlobalData Retail.

The brand also hurt Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and convicted of sexual offense who committed suicide in prison last year. Wexner has he apologized for his association with Epstein, but the relationship was damage to the image of the company.

Saunders believes Victoria’s Secret will undergo some structural changes and find her new position in the lingerie market after Wexner resigns as CEO.

“In terms of product, we anticipate that the goods will still be trendy and fun, but more emphasis will be placed on comfort, functionality, materials and making consumers feel good about themselves,” said Saunders.

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