On Wednesday, Hailey Bieber announced that she was joining Victoria’s Secret’s VS Collective via an Instagram post that read: “I am so happy to announce that I am joining the @victoriassecret #VSCollective – a platform for strong women to use their voice in an authentic way. Looking forward to partnering with VS on this m journey and all to come! 💞“
Her announcement comes after other influential women models, activists, athletes and entrepreneurs have announced that they’re taking part in this new VS Collective, a rebrand for Victoria’s Secret.
But we still have questions.
Back in 2019, the once-beloved Victoria’s Secret fashion show came under scrutiny after Ed Rezak’s (the then-marketing chief) insensitive comments about trans models, not to mention the CEO of its parent brand, Les Wexner, having clear ties to Jeffery Epstein. Ed Rezak and Les Wexner both stepped down in 2020, with Rezak resigning completely.
The show was instantly cancelled, with too much outrage to warrant its once unparalleled success. Since then, models and members of staff have come forward about the misogynistic work environment and the pressure for women to look a certain way.
Then, with brands like Rihanna’s SAVAGE X FENTY stepping in and stepping up, the place that Victoria’s Secret held in the fashion industry just didn’t seem relevant anymore.
It’s amazing to know that this kind of change has happened during my lifetime. It’s so pivotal in both the fashion industry and general society, that the mistreatment of women on a global scale will not be tolerated by consumers any longer, and that those voices are being heard.
But the Victoria’s Secret brand seems far from doomed. Perhaps the brand-name itself doesn’t have the most empowering imagery behind it, but its team has somehow managed to turn it around and create something inspiring.
Enlisting some huge names in the fashion industry as well as within the LGBTQIA+ activist community, Victoria’s Secret’s rebrand — VS Collective — is something worth noticing. But what exactly is it?
We’re going to try and break it down.
Basically, Victoria’s Secret still remains a brand. They’re still owned by L Brands, which has spun Victoria’s Secret off to its own business (trading on the NYSE as VSCO) and is headed up by CEO, Martin Waters.
It’s important to note that the details around the ownership of the Victoria’s Secret brand, financially speaking, have not been disclosed to the public, which means that we don’t truly know if Les Wexner is at all benefiting. Given that he is still on the board of directors for L Brands, we think he probably is.
That being said, Victoria’s Secret is launching itself back on the scene with a group of powerful ambassadors called the VS Collective.
The VS Collective are being named partners of the brand “with unique backgrounds, interests and passions” who will “collaborate” with Victoria’s Secret to “create revolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, new internal associate programs and rally support for causes vital for women.”
Within this collective, are:
Adut Akech: Refugee, model and mental wellness supporter
Amanda de Cadenet: Journalist, photographer, Girlgaze founder and equality advocate
Eileen Gu: World champion free skier, youth women’s sport advocate and model
Hailey Bieber: Model and advocate
Megan Rapinoe: LGBTQIA+ activist, pay equality crusader and professional soccer player
Paloma Elsesser: Body advocate, community creator and model
Priyanka Chopra-Jonas: Actor, producer and entrepreneur
Valentina Sampaio: LGBTQIA+ activist, actor and model
It’s a pretty strong group of powerful women. But how will their voices impact the Victoria’s Secret name?
The way we see it, Victoria’s Secret will lean on these women, these ambassadors for their voices and experiences, which will help to create a more inclusive, diverse and well-rounded brand. It seems like a great move by VS.
Although details around what their roles will entail are a little vague, we do know that there’s a podcast. It’s called VS Voices, and it features the VS Collective. Hosted by their resident journo, Amanda de Cadenet, the episodes are set to speak about the multi-faceted female experience.
Priyanka Chopra-Jonas’s episode is out now and you can listen to it here.
We’ve also seen some of Victoria’s Secret’s new collection, as modelled on Hailey Bieber.
Their latest collection includes two curve/plus sized models in the campaign, Paloma Elsesser (part of the VS Collective) and Jill Kortleve, as well as different body types modelling the lingerie on-site.
Their sizing now ranges from an A cup to a G cup, and you can see many of the same styles modelled by different-sized models.
This kind of diversity is great to see and is a huge shift for the brand. This change to their offering, as well as the conversations and impact that their VS Collective could have, feels as though Victoria’s Secret has truly come back and is moving in the right direction.
My only question would be: with so many brands today defining themselves by celebrating diversity in every form, are Victoria’s Secret doing enough?
I also have another question: is this shift a little too late?
Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll definitely be trying out some of their new inclusive lingerie and will be sure to get back to you.