Victoria’s Secret Publicly Rejects Diversity


Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris

Aria Castronuova, Editor

The chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret, Ed Razek, is currently under fire for some deeply offensive comments made about the “standards” of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in a Vogue interview. He stated transgender (which he referred to by the outdated term “transsexuals”) and plus-size models would not be included, because the show was supposed to be a “fantasy.” He continued that the reason for the exclusion was because the show was tailored towards their market audience, which he believes does not include transgender or plus-size people either, as their company does not “market to the whole world.” He said that their plus-size division Lane Bryant, which sells a specific range of plus-size lingerie, had a television special in 2000 and that “no one had any interest in it.”

Razek has since issued a public apology after he received backlash, saying that his “remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive.” He contradicted his original statements, now saying that they “absolutely would hire a transgender model for the show” and that transgender models have even come in for casting, but none of them have ever made it. Razek says that this was regardless of gender, and  he admires and respects their “journey.”

Of course, the apology has not properly satiated many of those whom the comments offended. Several other lingerie companies have come out with statements supporting the minorities that Victoria’s Secret dismissed. The CEO of the company ThirdLove, Heidi Zak, said in an open letter to The New York Times that she was “appalled” by the “demeaning comments about women” that Razek made in his interview. She continues, “Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles?… We’re done pretending certain sizes don’t exist or aren’t important enough to serve. And please stop insisting that inclusivity is a trend.”

As a brand, Victoria’s Secret has been on a steady decline since 2016. Same-store sales have dropped six percent in the most recent quarter, and they were down another 2% when their online service was included. This new controversy will likely not help their business in any way. Neil Saunders, the managing director for GlobalData Retail says the reason why they are doing poorly are “very clear” and it is simply due to their outdated values (this idea, of course, is backed up by the comments made by Razek in question). On this, Saunders said, “Indeed, we would go so far to say that its overt sexuality, its focus on airbrushed glamour, and its dark and moody stores are completely out of step with the mood of most modern customers.” This rings true, especially in the fact that the company is run by two men, who are seventy and eighty years old, despite most of their consumers being young women. Ed Razek said that they are selling a fantasy, but it seems to be a fantasy that’s dwindling in relevancy.