Victoria’s Secret is rebranding to include a wider range of model sizes in its new campaign! Yay! Yay?
One of the most successful players in the lingerie arena has axed its winged angels and is set to replace them with successful women who will be highlighted for their achievements, and not their looks. As the company puts it, the VS Collection will “bring together an unparalleled group of trailblazing partners who share a common goal to drive positive change”. Some of these women include LGBTQIA+ activist and professional soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, and actress and producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas. As a founding partner of the collection, Chopra Jonas took to Instagram to explain the general idea behind it: 1. Representation matters (that definitely includes size) 2. Victoria’s Secret is working on creating pieces specifically for women and not for the male gaze.
Before you ask…no, you have not stumbled upon an article from five years ago. It is indeed 2021, but I wouldn’t blame you if you thought otherwise. Fortunately, averaged-sized models (which, by the way, is a size 14 in America), are becoming more mainstream. Why? Because people like it. Take the brand Aerie, for example. In 2016, the intimate apparel brand launched its “Aerie Real” campaign, with “regular looking” models, and no airbrushing. According to CNBC, this mass representation was so well received by consumers that “the company’s same-store sales growth in the first quarter rose 38 percent, on top of a 25 percent increase in 2017.” In recent years, inclusivity has become the not-so-secret formula to a successful marketing campaign. Glossy.co notes that promoting diversity has really paid off for even newer brands, “including Glossier, MeUndies, and both Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty brands. The drive is the idea that younger customers want to buy from brands that are inclusive and stand for something.”
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret went “down from a high of more than 22 percent in the last year — and lost market share quickly. Despite this noticeable downfall, VS just couldn’t let go of its ways; the company continued to air the controversial Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show until 2019, refused to show a variety of body types,and kept sending paper catalogues up until 2017. And with that, in 2020, to absolutely no one’s surprise, the company closed 241 stores. Equally as telling, just 3.3% of fashion brand Topshop’s clothing are plus-size friendly, and in 2019, every single one of its US stores closed. It’s as if the advertising execs sat around at a table and said, “So our consumers have made it abundantly, crystal clear what they want to see from us…so how about we do the complete opposite just for fun?”. So, I think the intentions behind this new collection are pretty transparent. The concept of DARING to feature models above a size 0 in ad campaigns is no longer revolutionary. Rather, it’s gradually becoming a standard by which we expect our brands to meet.
When I first read the news, my first thought was “Finally!” Then my second thought was: “This feels way too late.” The amount of time that it has taken Victoria’s Secret to embrace body diversity automatically strips them of a lot of authenticity points. According to a recent study, “86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support”. Some consumers will think it’s better late than never. They will forgive and forget. Others will have already moved on to other brands and find no reason to shop there again. Only time will tell how effective this strategy still is. My prediction: The Victoria’s Secret Collection could give the brand the boost it needs, so long as it commits to this form of branding, and stops trailing five years behind obvious cultural norms and common sense marketing trends.
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