Victoria's Secret Announced a Rebrand and People Are Fired Up About It

VS rebrand response
VS rebrand response

Getty Images - Design: Alex Sandoval

Victoria's Secret has seen its fair share of backlash. The brand-defining VS fashion show has come under fire for years, as more and more people have called on the brand to showcase a wider range of body types in its casting. And in 2018, when Ed Razek, then-chief marketing officer of VS's parent company, L Brands, said that casting trans models would ruin the "fantasy" aspect of the show and that no one has interest in fashion shows with plus size models, it certainly didn't win the brand any points.

Needless to say, a lot of people believe a rebrand is overdue, and yesterday, Victoria's Secret announced that it's finally taking that step. The brand is partnering with seven famous women to launch VS Collective, a group that will "work to create new associate programs, revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, and rally support for causes vital to women," according to a press release. The first women to join the collective include Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Valentina Sampaio, Paloma Elsesser, Eileen Gu, Amanda de Cadenet, and Adut Akech. Victoria's Secret also announced the launch of The VS Global Fund for Women's Cancers, which will fund research on women's cancers and invest in the next generation of diverse women scientists. This news follows the cancellation of the brand's annual fashion shows in 2019 and 2020.

"We think it's important to evolve the messaging of Victoria's Secret," L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said in a statement announcing the 2019 cancellation. "We will be communicating to customers but nothing similar in magnitude to the fashion show. We will communicate to customers through lots of vehicles, including social media and other channels."

If one thing has become clear in the retail giant's recent history, it's that people have strong opinions about its approach, and this announcement is no different. In an eyeroll-inducing turn of events, most of the dialogue on Twitter seems centered on people taking issue with the fact that Megan Rapinoe, in particular, was selected for the VS Collective.

"Megan Rapinoe?? Nobody likes feminists," tweeted conservative podcast host Jesse Kelly, for example. "Nobody. Even other feminists hate feminists. They're the least appealing people on the planet." More general calls to "bring back the angels," their wings, and the fantasy bra abound. (Related: Megan Rapinoe Is Hosting a New Show That Spotlights Young Athletes Destined to Become Stars)

Others are arguing that, even with this change, the company still falls short of true inclusivity. "The average American woman is a 16-18," one person tweeted. "Most of your garments only come up to a 12, sometimes 14. I hope you become more size inclusive with this change."

"Really cool news from Victoria's Secret (go @mPinoe!), but I'm gonna be that girl who respectfully puts out there that it'd be great to see them center trans women more in their brand shift," tweeted writer Charlotte Clymer. "There are so many amazing trans women out there who'd be fantastic for this." (Related: Victoria's Secret Added a Slightly More Size-Inclusive Angel to Their Roster)

A third group is applauding the company and considers this announcement a significant move in the right direction. "This is great!" one person wrote. "Looking forward to the change in tone and representation."

"Victoria's Secret has been pitching an unrealistic image of women's bodies for years and their decline in revenue and cancelation of their annual runway show is proof," another chimed in. "Megan Rapinoe is a positive step in the right direction. Agree?"

It's true: Victoria's Secret saw an all-time low number of fashion show viewers and a major decline in sales in 2017, which the brand wasn't able to turn around in the following two years, according to Fast Company. However, it made a small comeback at the beginning of this year, with sales up 9 percent in the first quarter compared to 2019, according Business Insider. In a recent earnings call, Victoria's Secret CEO Martin Waters said the brand is "redefining [its] purpose" with "a very significant turnaround from where we've been, where we're moving from what men want to what women want." Indeed, in recent months Victoria's Secret has added more women to its board, become more inclusive of varied body types in its imagery, and added plus-size mannequins to its stores, according to Business Insider.

On one hand, it's a step in the right direction, but there's no denying that Victoria's Secret is a bit late to hop on the inclusivity train and this all feels overdue. Time will tell whether these steps allow Victoria's Secret to make a comeback at this point. (See: Why We've Changed the Way We Talk About Women's Bodies)