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  • This is the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

  • The hour-long nationally-televised event has served as a showcase for the brand's bras and lingerie since 2001, but 2018 was the fashion show's last broadcast.

  • The show had suffered several years of declining ratings that coincided with the drastic rise then fall of the stock price of Victoria's Secret parent company, L Brands.

  • Here's how the lingerie retailer, Angels and all, rose to the top of women's fashion and how its fall from grace has created an uncertain future for the company.

  • In 1982, L Brands owner Leslie Wexner acquired Victoria's Secret, a small retailer consisting of 6 stores and a catalog for $1 million.

  • Wexner developed many successful retail businesses in the 1980s and '90s.

  • He popularized the specialty mall retailer, which had tightly-focused product lines and carefully-designed stores, and he took those stores and rolled them out to malls across the country.

  • That model really upended the department store model.

  • In the mid-90s, Victoria's Secret's heavily-padded Miracle Bra, designed to create cleavage, was vying for market share with its competitor, the WonderBra.

  • Only Victoria's Secret has the Miracle Bra.

  • Get a Miracle Bra.

  • Victoria's Secret doubled down on ads with provocative TV commercials and launched its first fashion show in 1995.

  • Victoria's Secret tried to define what sexy was and what a sexy woman should look like, and you can really see by the ads that they were pushing a very specific beauty ideal.

  • That image was executed by L Brands Chief Marketing Officer, Edward Razek, who was put in charge of casting models for the fashion show.

  • Throughout the 2000s, Leslie Wexner sold many of his apparel brands and focused more and more on his lingerie and beauty lines.

  • This included launching PINK in 2004, a Victoria's Secret spinoff for teens.

  • Unlike many other retailers, Victoria's Secret continued to grow after the 2008 recession.

  • The retailer opened more stores and sales expanded, and L Brands stock price rose until 2016.

  • That's when you really started to see trouble for the company, as consumer tastes started to shift.

  • Athleisure began to dominate fashion and growth began to slow in Victoria's Secret's bra business.

  • This was driven, in part, by consumers preferring bralettes, bras with no underwire or padding.

  • There was a shift in what female consumers wanted from their underwear and what they were willing to pay.

  • Many younger women didn't wanna pay $60 anymore for a padded bra that they saw on a supermodel.

  • Many of them preferred stuff like more authentic marketing, natural looks, and bras built for comfort.

  • In 2016, Leslie Wexner assumed direct control of Victoria's Secret.

  • He eliminated swimwear, stopped mailing out catalogs, and doubled down on sports bras.

  • By 2018, L Brands share price had fallen 50%, erasing about $14 billion in investors' wealth.

  • Victoria's Secret started to appear out of touch with female consumers around the same time.

  • A major stumbling block for Victoria's Secret was when Ed Razek told "Vogue" that he didn't think transgender models should be cast in the fashion show.

  • He was forced to apologize for those remarks, and a lot of people called for his resignation immediately.

  • He actually stayed on a while after that and eventually resigned in 2019.

  • Victoria's Secret's internal culture and management has come under scrutiny as well.

  • Ed Razek, after he left Victoria's Secret, has faced allegations of harassing models and employees, and Les Wexner has come under fire for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, who was his longtime money manager.

  • Leslie Wexner has said that he cut ties with Epstein more than a decade ago, after Epstein was charged with child sex trafficking.

  • Independent directors on the L Brands Board responded to the sexual harassment allegations in a statement that said the company had instituted "robust anti-harassment policies" in recent years, and the company regrets any instance where we did not achieve this objective of "a safe, welcoming, and empowering workplace".

  • Razek told the "New York Times" that the allegations were, quote, "categorically untrue, misconstrued, or taken out of context".

  • Consumers have a very particular idea of what Victoria's Secret is.

  • It'll be interesting to see whether a brand that's married to such a particular type of marketing can transform itself into anything else.

This is the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

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How Victoria's Secret Lost Its Grip | WSJ

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2022/03/05
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