The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has announced its return after a four-year hiatus. However, some people have shared their mixed reactions to the announcement following the lingerie brand’s string of controversies due to its lack of inclusivity.
On Friday 3 March, chief financial officer Timothy Johnson said during a 2022 earnings call that the brand is seeking to revamp the former annual fashion show following the four-year hiatus. “We’re going to continue to lean into the marketing spend to invest in the business, both at top-of-funnel and also to support the new version of our fashion show, which is to come later this year,” he said, per The Hollywood Reporter.
In a statement to the outlet, a Victoria’s Secret & Co spokesperson said that the brand is “always innovating and ideating in all spheres of the business to continue to put our customer at the center of all we do and reinforce our commitment to championing women’s voices and their unique perspectives.”
“As we’ve previously shared, our new brand projection and mission will continue to be our guiding principle,” the statement continued. “This will lead us into new spaces like reclaiming one of our best marketing and entertainment properties to date and turning it on its head to reflect who we are today. We’re excited to share more later this year.”
The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was cancelled in November 2019 amid sexual misconduct allegations and criticism against the brand’s lack of inclusivity. The lingerie brand’s former corporate chief marketing officer Edward Razek stepped down that same year after a report from The New York Times accused Razek of creating a “culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment.”
A former Victoria’s Secret employee also claimed during an episode of the Fallen Angel podcast – which documented the brand’s impact on women – that Razek allegedly made sexist remarks about women’s bodies.
The former chief marketing officer for L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, sparked backlash after he made a series of comments in a Vogue interview the previous year, in which he said that transgender models shouldn’t be part of the annual fashion show because “the show is a fantasy”.
For years, Victoria’s Secret has been criticised for promoting unrealistic beauty standards with its infamous Victoria’s Secret Angels – with supermodels such as Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss, and Adriana Lima each donning the iconic angel wings as they walked the show’s runway.
Two years after the show was cancelled, Victoria’s Secret rebranded its Victoria’s Secret Angels with the launch of the VS Collective, a collaboration of celebrities with unique backgrounds and interests. The rebrand aimed to focus on body diversity amid the popularity of the body positivity movement. However, some people, including Lizzo, are skeptical that Victoria’s Secret has changed for good.
Following the announcement of the return of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Lizzo tweeted on Sunday (5 March) that the show’s return was a “win for inclusivity for inclusivity’s sake,” but wondered whether the brand’s push for inclusivity was just to drive profits.
“But if brands start doing this only because they’ve received backlash then what happens when the ‘trends’ change again?” she tweeted. “Do the CEOs of these companies value true inclusivity? Or do they just value money?”
This is a win for inclusivity for inclusivity’s sake
But if brands start doing this only because they’ve received backlash then what happens when the ‘trends’ change again?
Do the CEOs of these companies value true inclusivity? Or do they just value money? https://t.co/ykmcUTLayQ
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) March 5, 2023
Many people in the comments seemed to echo Lizzo’s skepticism about the annual fashion show’s return.
“When it comes to businesses, sadly, we have to accept that any ‘good’ they do is actually an unintended byproduct of their financial aims,” tweeted one person in response. “They will act out of self-interest, and usually only ever do good on accident. But a win is a win.”
The “Special” singer has previously shared her thoughts on the body positivity movement. In a 2020 interview with Vogue, Lizzo spoke about how she feels the movement has become “commercialised” and co-opted by brands to the point that it’s no longer benefiting those it was created for.
“It’s commercialised. Now, you look at the hashtag ‘body positive,’ and you see smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. Lotta white girls. And I feel no ways about that, because inclusivity is what my message is always about,” she said. “I’m glad that this conversation is being included in the mainstream narrative.
“What I don’t like is how the people that this term was created for are not benefiting from it,” she added. “Girls with back fat, girls with bellies that hang, girls with thighs that aren’t separated, that overlap. Girls with stretch marks. You know, girls who are in the 18-plus club. They need to be benefiting from...the mainstream effect of body positivity now.”
The Independent has contacted Victoria’s Secret for comment.