Lingerie company Victoria’s Secret is ditching its ‘Angels’ runway models for diverse celebrities such as U.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe, actress Priyanka Chopra-Jones, and 29-year-old biracial model Paloma Elsesser who recently graced the cover of Vogue magazine. The revamp comes after years of plummeting sales and the rise of size-inclusive brands like Aerie and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty line.
“It's all about Victoria's Secret attempting to broaden their appeal to people who aren't just supermodels, who aren't just looking to emulate that supermodel look,” says Cora Harrington, founder and editor of TheLingerieAddict.com, and author of the book “In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie.”
Although Victoria’s Secret is still the largest lingerie brand in America, Harrington says the consumer perception of it is at an all-time low. She says the full rebranding signals that the company understands it needs to change, but the shift isn’t as diverse as it could be.
“I don't know if anyone feels like Priyanka is a representation of the every woman. ... I have seen people make those comments. They say, ‘Okay, well, they're not supermodels. And that's great. But also I'm not a world-class soccer player.’ So it's not necessarily more inclusive.”
She points out that despite the flashy launch of a new direction, a lot is still the same: “It's very interesting to me that they decided to do this big launch, this big announcement, but the website is still the same. The models on the website are the same. The presentation of the product on the side is the same. Most important is the size range hasn't changed. And it doesn't matter how many spokesmodels … how many new directions they purport to be going [in]. If there are no new sizes for people to wear, then it just doesn't matter.”
Harrington compares the move to Aerie’s “Real” campaign that launched in 2014. Its goal was to use models they felt better represented the general American population and stop photoshopping and airbrushing their models.
She notes that although sexy and fashionable lingerie pieces attract eyes and wallets, the basics are the most longstanding and successful.
“Often when people are thinking about lingerie, they do think it's just the flashy stuff. But that's just a cookie to get people in the door so they can buy the things that actually do make you money over the long term.”