Victoria's Secret: A Close-Minded Cultural Juggernaut
Despite Business of Fashion reporting a 44% decline in its shares this past year, Victoria’s Secret has remained a sort of cultural juggernaut. Its annual fashion show, which took place this week, continues to be one of the most expensive and most-watched fashion events every year. How is the brand able to maintain such a cult following when, on paper, their dwindling sales suggest otherwise?
Leading up to the show, VS builds up the hype by having their models announce their casting simultaneously and schedule posts of their workouts, fittings, and rehearsals on social media. It’s a very smart marketing campaign, if you ask me. With social media beginning to topple the formal magazine as the main authority in fashion, it’s a strategic move on VS’s part to focus their marketing efforts onto digital platforms. Plastered all over Instagram and Twitter is Victoria’s-Secret-this and Victoria’s-Secret-that. Viewers are liking, commenting, and reposting at such high rates that the brand’s publicity becomes self-regulatory.
The reason Victoria’s Secret continues to dominate the lingerie industry, despite lower sales, is because they are no longer selling just a product. They are selling an image by commodifying their models as the product. Year after year, VS showcases women with similarly thin, tall, and toned bodies, rarely, if ever, breaking their traditional mold. These narrow conventions of Eurocentric features, embodied by these models, are presented as the image of pure feminine beauty. We are told that this is what a woman should and must look like. So, then, we feel compelled to buy their bras and follow their models’ every move online in hopes of emulating the women we see on the runway, and, thus, conform to normative beauty standards. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way blaming these models nor am I denying their gorgeousness. The bone I have to pick is with the people behind the curtain who continue to reduce all women into an oppressive, singular image and advertise it as female empowerment.
With the recent online popularity of inclusive lingerie brands in addition to the prevalence of today’s #MeToo movement, fight for body positivity, and overall feminist wave, you’d think VS would’ve received the message that their archetype of a woman is not an honest representation of the female body’s diverse dynamism. It’s like the people at VS are living under a rock. Or perhaps, even worse, they’re purposely ignoring our call for change.
Here are some alternative lingerie brands that prioritize body positivity and inclusivity:
Julia Eunji Choi