Over 100 models have signed a petition calling for Victoria’s Secret to make a commitment to help protect its models from sexual harassment.
Earlier this week, Model Alliance, revealed that several models had signed an open letter addressed to John Mehas, the US lingerie brand’s chief executive urging the brand to take action to protect their catwalk stars.
Christy Turlington Burns, Edie Campbell, Milla Jovovich, and Doutzen Kroes are among the models who have signed the petition.
“We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret,” the letter, which was also shared to Twitter, reads.
“In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models.”
The organisation goes on to explain that though the allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria's Secret directly, they believe the company has a “crucial role to play in remedying the situation.”
“From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls,” the letter continues.
Co-signed by Time’s Up, signatories of the plea are urging the brand to commit to the Model Alliance’s RESPECT programme that aims to protect contractors such as models, photographers, agents and vendors against sexual harassment.
The programme, requires signatory companies to make a binding commitment to ensure that a strict code of conduct is followed, which offers safety and protection while reducing models’ vulnerability to mistreatment.
The organisation signs off the letter by calling on Victoria’s Secret to take meaningful action to protect its models and other talent, claiming the brand could use its power and influence to bring about change the industry urgently needs.
“Every day, fashion brands, publishing companies, and agencies set the norms of what’s acceptable and what’s not in fashion,” the letter continues.
“If Victoria’s Secret were to take a stand against these abuses and commit to meaningful change by joining the RESPECT Program, this would go a long way in helping our industry chart a new path forward.”
Yahoo UK has contacted Victoria’s Secret for comment.
The call for action comes after news that Ed Razek, the brand’s chief marketing officer has stepped down from his role.
The resignation came via a note from Leslie Wexner, the chair and chief executive of the brand’s parent company, L Brands.
Last year, Razek was forced to apologise after making shocking comments ruling out transgender and plus-size models from the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
In an interview with American Vogue, Razek claimed the lingerie brand’s annual runway shows are “a fantasy” therefore should not include transgender models.
But in a positive u-turn the brand has recently hired its first openly transgender model.
Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio took to Instagram to confirm the news sharing a behind-the-scenes image of her posing in the brand’s Pink sub-line alongside the caption: “Never stop dreaming.”
Rumous have also been circulating that the 2019 Victoria's Secret show might be cancelled.
Victoria’s Secret model, Shanina Shaik, dropped the bombshell last week to The Daily Telegraph Australia, claiming that the catwalk show is going on a hiatus.