Victoria's Secret and Inclusivity

Victoria’s Secret, the brand that’s known for its strict type of models, has recently launched a collection that features a “plus-sized” and transgender model. 

 It’s safe to assume this is a response to the intense backlash the brand received in 2018 for Ed Razek’s comments. Razek is the former CMO of L Brands, which is the parent brand of Victoria’s Secret.

In one of their biggest scandals, and there are a good few to choose from, Razek made comments about how he didn’t want or need to include plus sized or transgender models in Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show. 

He said, "Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy," and “we market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.”

This new campaign features size 14, Ali Tate Cutler alongside transgender model May Simón Lifschitz. While including more diversity in the brand is obviously a good thing, this doesn’t seem to be enough. 

The average dress size for women in Ireland and the UK is between the sizes of 14 and 16 so this makes “plus sized” model Ali not plus sized, but merely an averaged sized model. While it’s definitely an improvement from only having straight sized models, it still doesn’t achieve what the brand had intended.

In fact, could it have the opposite effect of what they are aiming for? Will this further isolate the real plus sized people? Will it offend average sized women? Is Cutler the right model to pick?

It appears Cutler might not have been the best candidate to pick for Victoria’s Secret’s first plus sized model as she has a reputation for “fat-shaming”. She has previously said “Being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore.” 

While Cutler has apologised for her comments, a lot of people feel it is not good enough and that Victoria’s Secret shouldn’t be using her as their plus sized model. 

Victoria’s Secret is not as popular as they once were. In fact, between 2016 and 2018, its market share in the US dropped from 33 percent  to 24 percent. They were slow to make the change from structured, push up wired bras to the much more sought after bralettes. And they’ve been slow to start their body positivity campaigns. 

According to data from ABC, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been rapidly losing viewers in the past few years. This year only 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the show, while 6.7 million watched in 2016. Because Razek is no longer part of the company and he was the driving force behind the show, Victoria’s Secret will not be having their annual fashion show this year.   

Can Victoria’s Secret still compete with the more open, accepting brands? 

In recent years, the brand Aerie is gaining more popularity among women because of their retouch free photos and body positivity campaigns. 

Another brand that is stepping on Victoria’s Secret’s toes is Rihanna’s brand Savage X Fenty. You only have to look at the models to see how different the two brands are. Savage X Fenty has real plus sized models, thin models that have big thighs, models with big bums, little bums, big boobs, little boobs, all you could ever ask for from a lingerie company. 

While Victoria’s Secret is taking steps in the right direction, it appears they haven’t done enough research and it’s all too little too late.