Victoria’s Secret cancels annual fashion show as sales fall and viewers switch off

Lingerie brand accused of being sexist and outdated and of not promoting body positivity

Victoria’s Secret: the lingerie brand’s final televised fashion show, in 2018. Photograph: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty

Victoria’s Secret: the lingerie brand’s final televised fashion show, in 2018. Photograph: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty

 

The annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, known for its jewel-encrusted bras and supermodels sporting angel wings, will not be held this holiday season, the lingerie company’s owner, L Brands, has said.

Official confirmation of the decision comes months after the Australian Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik told the Daily Telegraph it would not be going ahead.

Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Miranda Kerr and Gigi Hadid have all appeared in the televised event, but ratings had been dwindling – the 2018 show attracted only 3.3 million viewers in the United States, the lowest figure since its inception, in 1995 – and the show had been accused of being sexist and outdated and of lacking diversity.

The brand was once the destination for all things lingerie, but it has been losing customers as more women shift to cheaper bralettes and sports bras from companies like the pop singer Rihanna’s lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, which has promoted body positivity by using models of all shapes, sizes and colours. More than 50 Victoria’s Secret stores are set to close in the United States this year.

Savage x Fenty: Rihanna’s lingerie line uses models of all shapes, sizes and colours. Photograph: Rebecca Smeyne/NYT
Savage x Fenty: Rihanna’s lingerie line uses models of all shapes, sizes and colours. Photograph: Rebecca Smeyne/NYT

Victoria’s Secret has also faced a series of controversies. L Brands’ chief executive, Leslie Wexler, has come under scrutiny for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who killed himself in jail in August after being charged with sex trafficking.

That month also saw the stepping down of Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, who had told Vogue magazine, in a controversial interview in 2018, that the brand would not cast transgender or plus-sized models, “because the show is a fantasy”. When his retirement was announced, Victoria’s Secret cast its first transgender model.

Earlier this year another former Victoria’s Secret model, Karlie Kloss, explained that she had stopped working with the brand because “I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.” She told British Vogue that leaving the brand was “a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist”.– Reuters, PA