Is the era of Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows over?
The Angels are falling in popularity
FASHION Victoria's Secret
The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has long been a staple in lingerie, bringing together the world's top models with musicians and bedazzled underwear. It’s also the only retailer with its own fashion show on network television, but that might not be for long.
The 2018 show aired on December 2, suffering the worst ratings in its entire broadcast history, with only 3.27 million people tuning in, The Cut reports. The show has lost half of its television audience in just two years.
In the days leading up to the show, Victoria’s Secret came under fire after chief marketing officer Ed Razek made insensitive comments about plus-sized and transgender models. "It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” Razek told Vogue. He apologized, but that didn't stop celebrities from speaking up.
Halsey, who performed at the show, posted a statement to Instagram, saying she has "no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype." She then directed people to GLSEN, an organization that protects LGBTQ+ youth, to which she also made a sizable donation.
"Complete and total acceptance is the only 'fantasy' that I support…”
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That could have been enough on its own, but there is also a general exhaustion in the air surrounding this "fantasy" that Victoria's Secret has tried to create using models' come-hither glances and hardly varying bodies. It's not only their ratings that are falling—their sales are reportedly plummeting as well.
The company’s monotonous definition of sexy is no longer shared by many women, who are beginning to place more value on the sex appeal of all body types. Brands like Aerie, ThirdLove, and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty are leading lingerie into the feminist era, where it seems Victoria's Secret is no longer relevant.
Rihanna even drew a direct contrast between her brand and their's when she told Vogue, in a profile about Savage X Fenty, "I’m not built like a Victoria’s Secret girl." She's definitely not alone.
And it's not just the lack of inclusivity that bores people either. The show's structure and, more importantly, the actual clothing designs themselves are not exciting people anymore. Rather, each year's designs are said to blend into the next, with the photos from every show seeming interchangeable and bland.
“It takes an extraordinary amount of ineptitude, laziness, and sheer disregard to make a show as stultifying and lifeless as the Victoria’s Secret one,” Robin Givhan wrote for the Washington Post. “Greater diversity would be welcome, but it can’t save Victoria’s Secret from its own self-destruction.”
In this rapidly progressing era of empowerment, inclusivity, and creativity, this moment could mark the end of Victoria's Secret, or—if they're smart—a new roster of Angels.