After 24 years the annual televised Victoria’s Secret show, a stalwart of the brands identity and a launch pad for many models and influencers has come to an end.
“We’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers,” Stuart Burgdoerfer, the labels parent companies chief financial officer told investors on the call where they they also announced losses of more than $250 million dollars in the 3rd quarter of the year.
It’s no secret, the results, the scandal of then-chief marketing officer Ed Razek saying transsexual models didn’t belong at the shows in a Vogue interview last year, he left shortly after, and the fact that Les Wexner, the creator of the label found himself in the spotlight due to a friendship with Jeffery Epstein that ended in 2007, Wexner subsequently accused Epstein of financial misappropriation.
These would be storms enough for any label to weather, a huge drop in sales, a transphobic position and links to one of the biggest cases of the decade that has even seemingly damaged our royal family, but there is something even deeper that is troubling to many of us.
The shows with all their glitz and glam showcased the products, but the products have been frequently accused of being overpriced or ill fitting, but even more damaging is the increasingly exclusionary feeling of those shows.
As society has changed, as prejudices around body shape have been challenged, as diversity has finally started to appear in the industry these shows increasingly felt like a relic, a dated last stand of a cultural notion that felt like a marginalising force, not the celebration it was dressed up as.
They harked towards Loaded, FHM, and the other bastions of 90’s lad centred culture, this was a look back into an identification of women as pure objectification.
The real issue for Victoria’s Secret has been it’s refusal to accept that change, to be the last stand of a defeated ethos. Sexy is great, wear what you want is a great philosophy, but the mindset that created each show wasn’t about owning any of these concepts, it was titillation.
And so as the years have wound on that entrenched ideal has caused many problems, it isn’t appealing to customers, through its sense of exclusion it has become the excluded, consumers have voted with their feet and their pockets, the public wants something different, a reflection of who we are as a society.
They didn’t listen, they still haven’t listened, you can change your marketing all you like but if your core beliefs don’t change you’re a dinosaur bound for extinction with some lovely adverts of your dodo. If the board doesn’t reassess their core message and ideology they like the bones of a Triceratops will only be found in a museum.