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Brand accused of 'sexism'

Victoria’s Secret fails amid claims of losing millennials

Victoria’s Secret branch in Buchanan Street, Glasgow (pic: Terry Murden)

Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has seen its UK arm plunge into administration, amid claims that it has become a victim of changing attitudes towards sex.

There are now concerns for more than 800 employees at its 25 stores. The company had already furloughed 785 of its workers before appointing Deloitte which will seek a buyer for its assets, or re-negotiate its rents.

Deloitte administrator Rob Harding said: “This is yet another blow to the UK high street and a further example of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the entire retail industry.

“The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today’s administration.

“We will now work with the existing management team and broader stakeholders to assess all options available for the future of the business.

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“As administrators we’d like to thank them and all of the employees for their support, at what we appreciate is a difficult time.”

Qing Wang, professor of marketing at Warwick Business School and an expert in luxury brands, claimed the brand, while being a huge success story, “has become synonymous with sexism, the objectification of women, and a lack of diversity.”

She said: “Being glamorous, sexy, and “over the top” is not a problem in itself. These characteristics define many other iconic fashion brands such as Tom Ford, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Alexander McQueen. As a brand Victoria’s Secret has personality, what it lacks is substance and commitment.

“Every brand needs a narrative to communicate to the customers and the general public. In the case of Victoria’s Secret, the main communication channel has been the annual fashion show.

“It was once a major pop culture event, drawing millions of viewers each year. It was an important aspect of the brand’s success story and a remarkable marketing achievement.

It has not kept pace with the strong values of millennials and post-millennials

– Qing Wang, Warwick Business School

“However, times have changed and the same show that brought the brand so much success has, more recently, contributed to its demise. It has not kept pace with the strong values of millennials and post-millennials, who should now be the company’s target customers. 

“While the public have voted with their feet by abandoning Victoria’s Secret, their appetite for the supermodels the brand created – such as Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Miranda Kerr – has not wavered. That shows it is a wider lack of purpose that is the key problem, rather than individual elements of the brand.

“If the UK arm of Victoria’s Secret is to be saved, it needs a new start and a major overhaul of its brand and marketing strategy.

“It needs to be brought up to date to reflect the values of gender equality, sustainability, and diversity that appeal to today’s shoppers and compete with the brands that have overtaken it.”



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