Victoria’s Secret is on a desperate mission to rebrand themselves and move past the male gaze and what they call “sexy.” On Wednesday, June 16th The New York Times explained that the company was ditching the wings, and “fantasies” for seven powerful women known for their achievements. The group of women includes, soccer professional Megan Rapinoe and actress Priyanka Chopra. They join Eileen Gu, a Chinese American freestyle skier, and future Olympian; biracial plus-size model, and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser; Sudanese-Australian model Adut Akech; and Brazilian transgender model Valentina Sampaio and journalist Amanda de Cadenet.. As noted by the NYT, the effort comes after “revelations about a misogynistic corporate culture that trafficked in sexism, sizeism, and ageism.” The owners relationship with the infamous Jeffrey Epstein was also scrutinized.
The seven women will form a group called the “VS Collective” and will advise the brand, appear in ads and promote the brand on Instagram. Martin Waters, the former head of Victoria’s Secret’s international business said, “When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond.” Waters became the chief executive of the brand in February and added, “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
“I’ve known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven’t had the control of the company to be able to do it,” Waters said. The company has a new executive team and is forming a board of directors that is run by all women, except for one man. And if you’re expecting to see wings at the next fashion show, don’t get too excited, “Right now, I don’t see it as being culturally relevant,” Waters added.
Soccer star Rapinoe is known for her pink hair, amazing soccer skills, and activism. In 2016 she kneeled in support of Colin Kaepernick and in 2019 she, and 27 of her US Women‘s soccer teammates filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation accusing it of gender discrimination. The claim was dismissed last year in May but the team plans to file an appeal and continue their fight for equal pay. The World Cup winner said the brand used to be “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired. And it was very much marketed toward younger women,” per NYT.
As for Priyanka, the 38-year-old Indian actor and tech investor is a known advocate for women’s rights and has worked with UNICEF since 2006. She works hard with causes aimed to improve the lives of underprivileged children and is politically active both in the United States and India.