Victoria's Secret Launched Its New Swim Collection, And The Internet Is Unimpressed

Earlier this week, Victoria's Secret re-launched its swimwear line with the hope of winning back consumers who left when the brand discontinued swim three years ago.

The launch was strangely quiet though: with a hardly any fanfare, the collection was dropped as an online-only store on March 18. Naturally, many people wondered if Victoria's Secret would finally show more size-inclusivity than it has over the years. Since 2016, many women discovered that better-fitting swimsuits with more inclusive sizing and competitive prices could be ordered online from brands such as Cupshe and Modcloth. Sadly, hopeful new customers were disappointed when they found swimsuits that were expensive, only available in sizes XS-L, and surprisingly similar to other brands' styles. 

Personally, when I checked out the new collection, I thought the suits looked strangely familiar. I compared the suits to the ones from Target, and it turns out I was right: you could spend about $15 for a basic bikini top at Target...

Or you could spend $38 dollars on a Victoria's Secret top that's almost exactly the same:


And the similarities don't just stop with one suit. The patterns, colors, and styles of VS and its "curated collection" of other brands closely mimicked several Target suits (e.g., these one-pieces):

$39.99 for this one-piece from Target, or you could spend $150.00 on this similar one from the VS/Banana Moon collection.

After waiting three years to re-release swim, why would VS produce Target suit knock-offs with high prices and poor sizing options? 

Perhaps the answer is that the swim release is a last-ditch effort to reclaim lost sales territory that Target has occupied since 2015. While many shoppers did go online in search of swimwear after the VS discontinuation, others preferred the convenience of going to a traditional, brick-and-mortar store to try on swimsuits before buying them, and Target offered the best variety and better sizing options over the years.

Additionally, Target also adapted to the changing times when it produced its latest swimwear lines: in a recent WWD interview, the executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Target said that "Guests have come rely on Target for our assortment of exclusive, on-trend swimwear in a range of sizes, at an incredible value." The latest offering are reported to offer more coverage so that women feel more comfortable and confident, with expanded sizing and affordable prices.

Maybe VS thought that creating similar styles to Target with the Victoria's Secret branding would be enough to help its flagging sales. But VS's issues run much deeper than colors and styles: the non-inclusive sizing and overtly sexy marketing echo a brand image that has aged poorly and fails to resonate with a new generation that hates objectification of the female body. The high prices of the new swim line proves that VS still believes that its name is enough to bring back Target devotees, but without a values overhaul, their brand will likely continue to suffer as women turn to more empowering swimwear brands.

Cover: 1.