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Victoria's Secret cancels annual fashion show after dwindling ratings and criticism

Parent company L Brands has said it’s time for the brand to “evolve”.

Gigi Hadid at the fashion show last year.
Gigi Hadid at the fashion show last year.
Image: Sonia Moskowitz/PA Images

LINGERIE BRAND VICTORIA’S Secret is cancelling its annual fashion show, after recent poor television ratings and criticism of the show as sexist and outdated.

The show first started in 1995 and has featured the world’s top supermodels such as Heidi Klum and Miranda Kerr, drawing millions of viewers at its height.

However, the brand’s owners L Brands have said it’s time to “evolve” its marketing strategy in an earnings call with investors this week, BBC has reported.

“We’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers,” its chief financial officer Stuart Durgdoerfer.

L Brands has been hit with poor sales over the past few years, recording a net loss of $252 million in the last quarter.

The Victoria’s Secret brand has also faced criticism in recent years for the annual show, provoking ire in the US for its use of slender models at a time when rival lingerie brands are becoming increasingly diverse and promoting all shapes and sizes.  

Its marketing director Ed Razek provoked uproar on social media last year for telling Vogue that there was no need for transgender or plus-size models in the annual fashion show.

“No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special,” he said.

Heidi Zak, co-CEO of one such rival brand, ThirdLove, published an open letter in The New York Times saying she was “appalled” by Razek’s “demeaning comments.”

“You market to men, and sell a male fantasy to women,” she said.

“Women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents and serve their country,” she wrote.

“Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles? It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide.”

The company has also faced criticism for its billionaire founder Les Wexner’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Wexner has said he cut ties with the disgraced financier back in 2007.

With reporting from AFP 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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