The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was known for its elaborate costumed lingerie, music by leading singers and the world's most stunning models. However the brand has been mired in controversy in recent years and is losing sales fast.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 22, 2019

After 14 years gracing television screens the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is no more.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was known for its elaborate costumed lingerie, music by leading singers and an array of the world’s most stunning supermodels. They included through the years Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr, Karlie Kloss, Lily Aldridge, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, Karolína Kurková and Alessandra Ambrosio.

However Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which began in 1995, looks to have run its race after its lowest ratings last year. L Brands, the parent company of the lingerie retailer, officially cancelled the 2019 show.

“We’ll be communicating to customers, but nothing that I would say is similar in magnitude to the fashion show,” CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said during the company’s third quarter earnings call.

The first Victoria’s Secret fashion show aired in 1995, but last year the show fell to its lowest ratings since its inception.
“It was a very important part of the brand building of this business and was an important aspect of the brand and a remarkable marketing achievement,” Burgdoerfer said Thursday. “We’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers.”

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Sales at Victoria’s Secret stores dropped in the last year and its website also dropped 7% during the latest quarter compared with the same period last year. In total L Brands reported a loss of US$252 million during the quarter.

“Given the decline in performance at Victoria’s Secret, we have substantially pulled back on capital investment in that business while we focus on ensuring that our merchandise resonates with customers,” L Brands said in its Q3 earnings report.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been mired in controversy in recent years, with publications from Cosmopolitan to The Guardian calling it sexist and anti-feminist. Online lingerie startups like Third Love pointed to the show as an example of Victoria’s Secret falling out of touch. Third Love’s CEO wrote an open letter to the company 12 months ago denouncing “demeaning comments about women” by one of Victoria’s Secret’s top executives Ed Razek, then chief marketing officer for L Brands. Razek said he didn’t think the brand should include “transsexuals” in its show.

“Why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” Razek said.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Victoria’s Secrets has lost women consumers to competitors such as Target, Kohl’s, American Eagle and lingerie startups. Leaders at Target and Kohl’s both called out their strength in their lingerie businesses during their most recent quarters, reported KXLY.

Victoria’s Secret has also had to deal with the fallout from L Brands founder and CEO Leslie Wexner’s links to disgraced financier and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein was Wexner’s former personal money manager and a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, Wexner’s charitable group. Wexner claimed he cut ties with Epstein in 2007 and said in September that he was “embarrassed” that he put his trust in Epstein.

“Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved is something that I am embarrassed that I was even close to, but that is in the past,” said Wexner.