People are mocking Victoria's Secret's failure to embrace plus-size and transgender women after the lingerie brand announces plans to close dozens of stores

doutzen kroes victorias secret Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesVictoria's Secret has been criticized for its racy ads and noninclusive marketing. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

  • Victoria's Secret announced plans to close as many as 53 stores in 2019, citing a "decline in performance."
  • Critics of the brand linked the closures to Victoria's Secret's failure to embrace plus-size and transgender women. 
  • In 2018, Victoria's Secret's CMO, Ed Razek, said that the brand would not feature plus-size or transgender models in its annual fashion show because the show was a "fantasy."
  • "Experts say Victoria's Secret's troubles came because they relied too heavily on push-up bras and celebrity models," Bette Midler tweeted on Thursday. "But is it that weird that women didn't want to shop at a store with the personality of a lecherous rich guy?"

Plans to close dozens of Victoria's Secret stores across the US have sparked mockery and celebration, as critics shame the lingerie giant for failing to embrace plus-size and transgender women. 

On Thursday, Victoria's Secret announced it planned to close as many as 53 stores in 2019, citing a "decline in performance." Same-store sales of the lingerie brand were down 3% during the quarter and overall in 2018.

Read more: Victoria's Secret is closing dozens of stores

Many people connected the closures to Victoria's Secret's struggles to adapt to modern trends. The brand has been criticized for its hyper-sexualized ads and racy runway shows, which have failed to resonate with many women in recent years. 

"Victoria's Secret's closing 53 stores," tweeted singer Bette Midler. "Experts say Victoria's Secret's troubles came because they relied too heavily on push-up bras and celebrity models. But is it that weird that women didn't want to shop at a store with the personality of a lecherous rich guy?"

Others shared similar criticism of the brand, with some people celebrating its downfall. 

"I see you'll be closing some stores this year," one person commented on Victoria's Secret's Facebook page. "Maybe if you guys were willing to carry some larger sizes you wouldn't be in this boat."

"The secret is out. You don't like fat people lol," commented another. "In all seriousness can you please get some plus size in there?? Your stores would be booming!"

In November, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of L Brands, said in an interview with Vogue Victoria's Secret would not be adding larger sizes to its assortment and had no plans to feature plus-size models in its runway show. Razek also told the interviewer that he didn't think the annual fashion show should feature "transsexuals" because the show was a "fantasy."

"It's a 42-minute entertainment special," he said. "That's what it is."

Read more: 'We market to who we sell to, and we don't market to the whole world': Victoria's Secret fires back at critics who say it excludes plus-size shoppers

Victoria's Secret faced swift backlash over Razek's comments, prompting Razek to issue a formal apology.

The annual fashion show's ratings also took a hit. According to ABC, the network that ran the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the fashion show when it aired December 2, down from 5 million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when it aired on CBS.

At the same time as Victoria's Secret sales are declining, brands known more for advocating body-positivity, such as American Eagle's Aerie and ThirdLove (which is becoming increasingly critical of Victoria's Secret), have gained market share.

American Eagle reported a 32% increase in same-store sales at Aerie in the third quarter. This marked its 16th consecutive quarter of double-digit positive growth. During a call with investors after the earnings release, its CEO, Jay Schottenstein, described this as one of the company's best-ever results.

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