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Reimagining the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show With New Purpose

It’s been a long catwalk for Victoria’s Secret, but it hasn’t been easy.

The lingerie brand got big by pushing a supercharged vision of sexiness that eventually left it out of touch with the times — roiling its message, its connection to shoppers and ultimately its business. 

Victoria’s Secret’s direction back has been a more inclusive approach championing women’s voices and diversity and leaving the male gaze behind. 

But while the brand might have changed, the kind of billboard-sized sex appeal it was known for lingers. 

“The reality is, for many people, they just haven’t noticed [the transformation]; they haven’t had the occasion to either come to our site and see what the change looks like, or come to our stores and see what the change looks like,” Martin Waters, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret & Co., told WWD in an interview in October

Now the company is trying to change that by reimagining its va-va-va-voom fashion show with The Victoria’s Secret World Tour — a feature-length film that will give four groups of five artistic women around the world a chance to define their own beauty. 

The film will be streamed online and culminate in a live fashion event this fall. It’s a package that promises to both offer a megaphone for women to use their own voices to celebrate the feminine form while also serving up some supermodels, lingerie and A-list musical talent.  

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What this all looks like and the exact combination of those ingredients remains to be seen, but the brand is very definitely trying to follow through on its reinvention.  

“This film is the ultimate expression of the Victoria’s Secret brand transformation,” said Raúl Martinez, executive vice president and head creative director at Victoria’s Secret. “It will be driven by fashion, glamour and entertainment with a nod to beloved iconography from the past but in a bold, redefined way. We are so honored to offer our platform and have it explored through the lens and artistry of global creatives who celebrate the individuality of women’s stories and perspectives.”

The brand is trying to come back into a game that it ceded to Rihanna in 2019, when Victoria’s Secret axed its long running extravaganza and the Savage X Fenty show made the leap to Amazon Prime and continued to iterate with a diverse lineup and celebrity buzz. 

Victoria’s Secret is walking a fine line now — trying to both deliver a message and make the sale. 

And the message is, kind of sort of, that it doesn’t have a message any more, that it’s not pushing a vision of how women should be, but is instead a conduit that women can use to express themselves. 

It’s the kind of letting go that marketing experts have long advised for legacy brands, which came up in a world where they controlled everything and now find themselves in the midst of a give-and-take with consumers. 

For Victoria’s Secret, it has been a marketing U-turn in just a few very turbulent years. 

Now the brand also has to turn its non-message message into a marketing pitch that works and make the sale.

It’s not as simple as the “sex sells” approach the brand honed for so long, but it is another indicator that Victoria’s Secret really has changed.  

The question is whether shoppers will tune in and go to the stores or online and, as Waters said, “see what the change looks like.”