I am the largest size in almost everything Victoria’s Secret sells. I’m a 10/12 in clothing, so I’m mostly referring to their lingerie, sleep, sport and lounge collections—I’m a 34F, and while their band offerings go up to a notable 44, their cup sizes stop with mine. It’s important for me to point out that I am a smaller size than the average American woman, so for many reasons, the above is simply not OK. Still, the brand holds a weird little spot in my heart, one filled with memories of tween me spending what little money she had at the Semi-Annual sales, laughing with my friends about lacy boyshort underwear as we walked the local strip mall with pink striped bags and Starbucks Frappucinos in hand.
I know I’m not the only one who grew up mesmerized by Victoria’s Secret, only to feel edged-out as I aged. It’s been a rough couple of years for the brand, dealing with everything from fatphobic and transphobic comments from former CMO Ed Razek to the end of the iconic Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to the recent relaunch of swimwear, with campaign images featuring plus-size models and zero plus-size options. The brand undoubtedly hopes to leave these scandals in the past, but it’s important to acknowledge them as they attempt to begin a new chapter.
The only way real change will come is if these glaring issues are acknowledged and learned from, instead of dismissed and forgotten. For this reason, it’s important that writers like myself keep bringing them up and holding VS accountable.
At times, Victoria’s Secret has felt hard to support. Impossible, even. It seemed like a comeback was out of the question. But rather than shout from the rooftops about changes to come, it appears the “secret” Victoria holds has been about quietly relearning how to reach their desired audience. And with the launch of VS Collective, they hope to do just that.
The VS Collective is a new partnership the brand hopes will not only positively impact women everywhere, but land them back in shoppers’ good graces, too. “At Victoria’s Secret, we are on an incredible journey to become the world’s leading advocate for women,” Martin Waters, Chief Executive Officer, shared in a press release. “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.”
A dramatic shift indeed—and in the very best way. Doubters might be swayed after seeing the VS Collective lineup, featuring glass-ceiling-shattering names from Megan Rapinoe to Paloma Elsesser. Joining Rapinoe and Elsesser are the following notable women: Adut Akech, Eileen Gu, Amanda de Cadenet, Valentina Sampaio and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
From the above, we can expect a podcast (hosted by de Cadenet) in which each of the women will go into detail sharing their stories. Martha Pease, VS’s Chief Marketing Officer, predicts the series will allow the brand to connect with real women like never before.
“With The VS Collective, we are creating a platform that will build new, deeper relationships with all women. Through a series of collaborations, business partnerships and cause-related initiatives, we’re bringing new dimensions to our brand experience,” said Pease in a press release. “In marrying our new partners’ energy, creativity and perspectives with our network and scale, we can transform how we connect with and show up for women.”
We can transform how we connect with and show up for women.
In conjunction with the debut of the VS Collective, the brand has yet another exciting partnership to announce: The Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers. Created alongside longstanding partner Pelotonia, the fund will support research programs aimed at exploring treatments and cures for women’s cancers and investing in the next generation of female scientists. VS vows to grant and award at least $5 million annually.
Skeptics be damned; it would be foolish for even the most passionate of VS naysayers to not acknowledge what is obviously positive growth. Slowly but surely, the brand is intent on rebuilding a reputation to be proud of, and with the VS Collective at the forefront of this movement, I’m personally excited to see them continue to improve. Along with extending their sizing, of course—a partnership celebrating all women will only succeed when all women can shop from the brand.
A partnership celebrating all women will only succeed when all women can shop from the brand.
Of all the VS Collective members’ statements, Rapinoe’s is the one that gives me the most hope. “So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I’m thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women,” she shares. “I believe in the power of authenticity and community and am excited to show what can be done through The VS Collective.”
As Rapinoe and Victoria’s Secret know, we are all waiting—with hope in our hearts—to see the brand deliver exactly that.