The Curious History of the Victoria’s Secret Brand
Victoria’s Secret is famous all over the world for its elegant and refined creations that enhance the female body. It is the market leader in lingerie in the United States. Dive into the incredible history of this iconic underwear brand.
How was born the lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret ?
L’story of Victoria’s Secret started in 1977 in San Francisco. This brand was born because of the shyness of an entrepreneur. The latter was indeed embarrassed when he had to buy lingerie for his girlfriend.
Realizing that he was not the only one in this situation, he decided to create a women’s underwear store in which men would be on the same level’comfortable.
The name of the brand is inspired by the Victorian era where bustiers, corsets and garters were in fashion. It was a quick success. In 1982, Victoria’s Secret had 6 warehouses and a 42-page catalog.
In addition, the brand had an annual turnover of 6 million dollars. However, its founder sold it for The Limited for 4 million dollars, believing then to have concluded a good deal.
Since then, this company has been focused on selling lingerie for modern, independent women. The idea was to allow women tobuying the underwear they liked themselves. This positioning was decisive for the brand.
In less than 10 years, it managed to spread across the United States and become the most popular lingerie retailer there. It later developed other items such as women’s clothing, shoes and perfumes.
In the early 1990’s, Victoria’s Secret sales reached a billion dollars a year. This feat is linked to the strategic decisions taken by The Limited. The company called upon the help of top models to perform in commercials and runway shows for the lingerie brand.
L’story of the founder of the Victoria brand’s Secret
The man behind theVictoria’s story’s Secret is called Roy Raymond. With a Master of Business Administration from Stanford University, he applied his business knowledge to create a lingerie brand. To realize his project, he borrowed 40 000 dollars from a bank and the same amount from his relatives.
The first Victoria’s store was installed in the Stanford Shopping Center. Three new stores were soon opened afterwards. At the same time, Roy Raymond launched a mail order. These stores were designed to offer a reassuring and pleasant environment for the people who go there.
The ensembles were indeed presented in frames on walls, which allowed customers to view them without being uncomfortable. After selecting an outfit, they could approach the store’s lingerie consultant to get help in choosing the size. The atmosphere was totally different from that of the department stores that could intimidate with their arsenal of salesmen and models.
After selling his company, Roy Raymond remained president for 1 year. He then resigned to create a line of luxury clothing for children called My Child’s Destiny. The new company, however, went bankrupt in 1986.
Decidedly, Roy Raymond did not know how to bet on Victoria’s Secret which has become one of the most famous lingerie brands in the world. Unfortunately, her story had a tragic ending. Burdened by debt and overwhelmed by his divorce, he eventually threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge on August 26, 1993.
The legendary shows of the Angels
L’history of Victoria’s Secret took a new turn in 1995. That year, the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show stood. The event is one of the brand’s biggest marketing successes and is held every year on an international scale.
This is a fashion show to promote its creations, which are then worn by famous models.
Known as the Victoria’s Secret Angels, these models stand out for their perfect plastic. The most beautiful women in the world such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen or Tyra Banks have already been part of it. More recent recruits include Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Lily Donaldson, Taylor Hill, etc.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is still spectacular. Equipped with beautiful wings, the Angels parade in small outfits more glamorous than the others on a grandiose catwalk. Their performance is accompanied by amazing light shows and special effects.
Music stars like Ellie Goulding, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd polish up the show by singing live.
Towards a change in communication and marketing ?
The Angels undoubtedly contributed to the success of Victoria’s Secret. That said, the brand decided to part with it. As this article in La Croix reveals, she chose to proceed with a rebranding to be more representative of diversity.
For several years, Victoria’s Secret is facing a declining popularity. It is important to know that the brand has received strong criticism because of its lacks inclusiveness in the choice of its ambassadors. In June 2021, she announced that she would now select her models based on their backgrounds, passions and commitments. Its new muses include, among others:
- Indian actress Priyanka Chopra;
- British feminist photographer Amanda de Cadenet;
- American soccer player Megan Rapinoe ;
- The Chinese-American skier Eileen Gu;
- Swiss-American plus-size model Paloma Elsesser;
- Brazilian transgender model Victoria Sampaio.
By opting for this positioning, Victoria’s Secret abandoned the single standard of beauty and intends to highlight all women, regardless of their looks.