Victoria’s Secret, a brand synonymous with tall (mostly white) size 4 models, recently posted pictures of a racially diverse group of women smiling away in underwear that matched their respective skin tones.
At first glance this felt like progress. Gone was the shocking pink lingerie and identical models. The overall impression was one of female solidarity. However, although the models are diverse in skin tone, that is where the diversity appears to end. They are all of an ‘ideal’ body type and their hair and complexion are beyond flawless.
The company’s attempt at diversity comes across as nothing more than a little shallow. An attempt to jump on a trend rather than to actually make a real difference. After years of promoting uniform beauty standards, spurning trans women and being accused of failing to protect models from sexual misconduct, it is going to take a lot more than a variety of skin tones to save the brands reputation and put them back at the top of the lingerie industry.
Last year the company decided to cancel their much anticipated annual catwalk show, amid controversy and accusations. The catwalks of 2020 are less white, young and “thin” than the body ideals that Victoria’s Secret has long promoted, and the edgiest contemporary fashion brands embrace diversity and inclusivity. A company with a history of problematic branding
and marketing needs a complete brand overhaul if they truly wanna up their game.
It only takes a glance at Rhianna’s Savage X Fenty line to see how lingerie should be marketed in the 21st century. Fenty has consistently used trans, disabled and plus-sized women in its shows – meaning diversity is at its core. Whilst Victoria’s Secret promotes narrowly male-influenced ideas of sexuality, Rihanna believes that “women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves”, and hopes to “encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light”. Fenty is
everything which Victoria Secret wishes it could be.
The main reason that Fenty is growing whilst Victoria’s secret is struggling to stay afloat is that Fenty sells and promotes empowerment. Underwear is about making yourself feel confident and powerful. A brand which tells us that we aren’t enough without bigger boobs or a smaller waist simply isn’t going to cut it anymore.
This all represents a drastic cultural shift in what consumers want from lifestyle companies. We no longer want to be sold aspirations and unrealistic ideals. Instead it feels much more important that brands represent real life. In an age where diversity and empowerment are becoming the norm, it is more vital than ever that brands get on board if they really want a chance at our hard earned cash.
Image Credit: Torbakhopper via Flickr