Victoria’s Secret. Two words that have maintained a stringent visual goalpost over the years, bringing to mind bejewelled bras and, of course, the Angels. Models strutting down the runway in sparkling, wing-accessorised creations causing a media frenzy.
In a radical move for the US brand, VS is waving goodbye to their original ambassadors. Instead, the Angels will be replaced with the “VS Collective”, a group of power women said to be emblematic of today’s talent and diversity.
These seven women will be the founders of what is sure to be a growing community of VS figureheads. They include model and activist Adut Akech; journalist and founder of GirlGaze, Amanda de Cadenet; actor and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Jonas; World Champion Free Skier and model Eileen Gu; Megan Rapinoe, football player and equal-pay advocate; model and body-positive spokesperson Paloma Elsesser; and, finally, the first transgender model to pose for Victoria’s Secret, Valentina Sampaio.
Each come from a diverse professional and personal background, connected only by their advocacy and position in the public eye. The collective is touted as a group of “accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change”, according to a press release from the company. To mark the cultural sea change, each woman will participate in a podcast, hosted by de Cadenet.
Of the collaboration, Sampaio said that, “as a powerful global platform, Victoria’s Secret is committed to opening these doors for trans women like me, by celebrating, uplifting and advocating for ALL women.” Rapinoe, meanwhile, said that the VS of the past was “patriarchal”, “sexist”, and “really harmful”. The vocal activist said that she was drawn to the collaboration following the brand’s executives acknowledging their past mistakes.
This revamp includes several growing initiatives within the company more broadly, including the VS Global Fund for Women’s Cancers. The fund will provide for “innovative research projects aimed at progressing treatments and cures for women’s cancers”, in addition to investment in the development of female scientists.
A shift has been brewing for some time. Though the company is still considered a lingerie powerhouse, they have faced criticism for their unrealistic beauty standards, eurocentric ideals, and emphasis on the male gaze. In essence, shoppers viewed VS as upholding values of the past and losing touch with the demands of the market. These reforms come as the lingerie market sees a shift, particularly at the hands of consumers who are seeking more inclusive and ethical options for their undergarments. “When the world was changing we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the chief executive of VS, acknowledged. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
"At Victoria's Secret, we are on an incredible journey to become the world's leading advocate for women,” Waters continued. “This is a dramatic shift for our brand, and it's a shift that we embrace from our core. These new initiatives are just the beginning. We are energized and humbled by the work ahead of us.”