Victoria’s Secret, your airbrushed grip on the lingerie world is loosening | Krista Burton

The companys models have been unrealistically defining womens sexiness for decades, but society is changing

In 7th grade, the kind of underwear you wore mattered. I knew because I didnt have the right kind. My underpants were white cotton with light pink trim; my mom bought them in plastic packs of six at Kohls or Walmart. The correct kind of of underwear was brightly striped, sat low on your hips, and came from Vickys.

Vickys was what the popular girls at my school called Victorias Secret, as if they were so familiar with the brand that they couldnt be bothered to say the whole name. I couldnt ask anyone for fear of looking shamefully ignorant, so it took me ages to figure out that Vickys was just a nickname for the aggressively pink mall store where you could buy bikini underwear to show off while changing for gym.

Victorias Secret just announced they will close 53 stores in the United States this year. Last year, they closed 30 stores. Things are not going well for the company. And while its been 20 years since underpants were a social status marker in my middle school locker room, the 13-year-old in my heart is grinning at this news, her braces glinting in the sun. Spring has come, my friends, and the icy grip Victorias Secret has had on the lingerie industry is loosening.

Its about time. Victorias Secret is the retail embodiment of the idea that things must evolve or die. Sales have fallen drastically in the past two years, and Jan Singer, Victorias Secret CEO, has recently resigned. This winter, the televised 2018 Victorias Secret Fashion show drew the lowest ratings in its history. And before the show aired, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of L Brands, Victorias Secrets parent company, had a chat with Vogue. During the interview, he made it clear that VS only wants thin, cisgender people buying their overpriced, badly made scraps of elasticized lace. When talking about being asked by consumers to add more sizes to the limited size range at VS, as well as cast more diverse models in the fashion show, he said, So its like, why dont you do [size] 50? Why dont you do 60? Why dont you do 24? Its like, why doesnt your show do this? Shouldnt you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I dont think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. Its a 42-minute entertainment special. Thats what it is.

Whoops. Social media exploded over this comment. A dinosaur comment, made by a 70-year-old male marketing executive, about what his consumer base wants wait a minute. What, in fact, did he know about what shoppers want? Why was this man in charge of what was being sold in lingerie stores?

Evolve or die, Victorias Secret. The companys airbrushed, ultra-thin models have been defining what is thought of as sexy for women for decades, but society is changing. Rapidly. New lingerie brands, such as Aerie, ThirdLove, and Everlane have more sizes. Tons of sizes. These brands focus on comfort and fit. They advertise with pictures of un-airbrushed, non-professional models wearing their bras. Lingerie brand TomboyX makes undergarments for all genders and sizes, and their Instagram is incredibly inclusive (and hot!) In September, Rihannas Savage x Fenty lingerie line sent a very pregnant model down the catwalk in pasties and a body cage. She looked… fantastic. All of these lingerie brands are thriving.

Its clear that consumers want to see themselves reflected in the clothing they see advertised. Its also clear that fit and comfort is important (take that, Victorias Secret underwire bras that never, ever fit, and also dig in all the wrong places, all day.) If it takes massive store closures to teach old executives that the game is changing, so be it.

Lingerie customers always have, and always will, want to feel and look sexy. There is a better way to make that happen, and were watching it unfold right now. Companies should make the products consumers want to buy. Inclusivity is important. And no oneabsolutely no one should have to smell Victorias Secret Eau So Sexy Fragrance Mist wafting in cotton candy-scented clouds off teenagers at the mall.

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