Victoria’s Secret show cancellation a step in the right direction?

Things aren’t looking so sweet for the Angels at Victoria’s Secret, after the company recently decided to cancel its annual fashion show, whilst simultaneously cancelling all future shows. The decision comes after chiefs have claimed that the brand must ‘evolve in the modern age’, and that the shows are no longer the ‘right fit’.

Victoria’s Secret, established in 1977, started its VS fashion show in 1995 in an attempt to boost sales by showcasing its luxurious lingerie items, and just as importantly, its super-slim Angels wearing them. Over the years the show has featured some of the industry’s biggest names in modelling, the likes of Tyra Banks, Miranda Kerr and Adriana Lima have all graced the runway, the latter of which left the brand last year. The show has been seen as a crucial contributor to the company’s profits, with a typical budget of around $25 million to cover the models’ pay, opulent outfits and the performances by high profile guests like Rihanna, the Weeknd and Rita Ora. The show has received many positive reviews over the years, famed for being a 42-minute entertainment special, so surely it seems odd to cancel in 2019?

Despite the glamour and hype, the decision comes after the brand has experienced a lot of backlash over its image, as well as its products. From a business perspective, show viewing figures dropped by 5 million from 2017-18 with only 3.3 million tuning in for last year’s show. Comparatively, these numbers are especially sparse compared to the 12 million viewers the show attracted in 2001. Consequently, sales have steadily declined across its stores, with a 6% loss since around 2016. This has thus sparked bosses to rethink the existing brand image and introduce a new plant to help the company recover from this decline in reputation and sales. Clearly the show and sales come hand in hand.

Another reason for the cancellation of the show comes from complaints by the public and many consumers that the show majorly lacked diversity and was also simply becoming boring, watching the same body types strut down the runway. The company’s Principal, Ed Razek, came under fire last year, after claiming that people had no interest in plus size and transgender models, and neither did the company because ‘the show is a fantasy’. Clearly, the brand’s refusal to adapt has caused the fall in show viewers. People want to see ‘real women’, and the emergence of plus-size, body positive models has further promoted this idea.

The company has not evolved with the industry and has suffered as a result, with the same types of fun wearable, slim fit lingerie catering for only a minority of women and thus limiting sales across the globe. The end of the fashions how has been heralded by many, saying that the show in fact won’t be missed. But from the show’s demise, we can perhaps see this as a turning point in fashion, and in wider society. It always ways seemed contradictory that the Angels felt ‘empowered’ by being ‘sexy for ourselves’, as Taylor Hill put it, when really, they are just adhering to a stereotype of what sexiness is, proposed by men.

This has been translated in zero size waists, and dangerously thin models with no more than 14% body fat being allowed for models in the show. All this being supported, and more importantly encouraged by the company, has seen the start of its demise, and the cancellation of its fashion show is now the first crack of many in its foundations.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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