Ahead of this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, we know a few things: who's performing (Halsey, Shawn Mendes, and Rita Ora to name a few), who's walking (Behati Prinsloo, who's back after a three-year hiatus, plus 19 newcomers), that Adriana Lima is retiring after one final show, and more. In terms of more unexpected news, however, the VS Fashion Show is apparently sticking to what it knows and what sells.
In a lengthy interview with Vogue, chief marketing officer of L Brands Ed Razek and executive vice president of public relations at VS Monica Mitro explained — among a few other scooplets, like the idea behind the Kardashian clan's Angel-themed Halloween costumes — just why, after the recent progress the fashion industry has made in the category, this year's televised runway won't see plus-size or curve models.
For the most part, it seems the lingerie executives are unfazed by the influence inclusive lingerie upstarts like ThirdLove and Savage X Fenty by Rihanna have wielded in recent seasons. And they have a lot to say about "skinny-shaming" and how much the brand has given back to women as opposed to just selling clothes (and why they don't publicize their charitable efforts). But one thing is fore sure: They're fiercely proud — and protective — of their Angels. So, ahead of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, here's what Victoria's Secret had to say.
On radical inclusivity...
Ed Razek: "In 1999, 2000, after we’d done the show for a few years, none of the designers who did shows would use any of our girls. They were too 'fat' was the prevailing wisdom of fashion at the time. At the time the conversation was 'they’re too big for us, we can’t possibly put them in our show.' Progress gets made, and part of what’s happened in our show is that the girls have just continued to get more physically fit. We don’t tell them to; they compete with one another and they work hard, they work in pairs, they work in threes. Many of them work out at the same gyms; they have complex routines. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that. Everybody keeps talking about Rihanna’s show. If we had done Rihanna’s show, we would be accused of pandering without question.
"We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t. Our show is the only branded special in the world, seen in 190 countries, by 1 billion 6 million people; 45 percent more people saw it last year than the year before. Our direct business is growing substantially—double digits on a monthly basis. And we made some merchandising mistakes, no question. But the number one selling bra in the brand at the moment is a bra that will sell more as a single item than a small competitor that’s been trying to make a lot of noise lately [sells from its complete range]. The dominant characteristic of that bra is that it says Victoria’s Secret multiple times. Now tell me how it’s possible that that bra would be the number one most popular bra in the marketplace if people didn’t like the brand? Particularly if young people didn’t like the brand?"
On why they don't have plans to expand their aesthetic anytime soon...
ER: "I don’t think we can be all things to all customers. It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store. I’m always asking myself: If we do that, what is the reason we did it? Why did we include that person? And did we include them to shut up a reporter? Did we include them because it was the right thing to do or because it was the politically correct thing to do? Do they take the place of somebody who worked for a year for the opportunity and cried when they found that they got it? Yeah, we made some fashion mistakes. We were late to the party on bralettes; we were late to the party on downtown influences in our looks."
On why transgender models won't appear in the show...
ER: "Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader. They don’t talk about each other. I accept that. I actually respect it. Cool. But we’re nobody’s third love. [Editor’s note: ThirdLove is a competitor that has received investment from a former CEO of Victoria’s Secret stores.] We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning."
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