Victoria's Secret show attempts a 'renewed energy' after reinvention

How Victoria’s Secret is rebranding for the Gen-Z generation: Lingerie store looks to move away from allegations of harassment and cultural appropriation with new line and film

  • The reimagined fashion show is a feature-length film featuring top supermodels
  • READ MORE: I used to model for Victoria’s Secret – what you saw on the catwalk was not real and even my mother didn’t recognize me

Victoria’s Secret runway show is preparing for its comeback, but the glamorous tradition, established in 1995, has undergone a major shift.

The American lingerie retailer is known for its runway show, famous for scantily clad models and performances from renowned musical artists.

But in recent years, consumers worldwide turned their heads away from Victoria’s Secret in search of a more inclusive brand, causing a slump in sales and, ultimately, the end of their runway show as we know it.

The company is undergoing a major rebrand, after it was criticised for promoting unrealistic body image with its non-inclusive culture and accused of failing to protect its models against sexual misconduct. 

In August, they launched a new The Icon Victoria’s Secret collection while the new Victoria’s Secret World Tour, a feature-length film, is set to reimagine the show the world once loved with a new generation of models from around the world. 

Victoria’s Secret is revamping its fashion show since being subject to allegations including cultural appropriation, a lack of body diversity, bullying and misogyny by former Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek (pictured in the middle) 

But beneath the brand’s shiny new reinvention lies a past tarnished with scandal. 

In 2012, Victoria’s Secret attracted criticism after Karlie Kloss modelled a Native American-style headdress on the runway.

Similarly, that same year, Victoria’s Secret removed a newly launched lingerie collection titled Go East from its website after one particular outfit called Sexy Little Geisha was labelled racist by offended critics.

The ‘Eastern-inspired’ cut-out sheer mesh teddy, which came with a matching removable obi belt, fan and chopsticks, was described as ‘your ticket to an exotic adventure,’ by the lingerie giant.

The outfit, modelled by Swedish-born model Candice Swanepoel, was considered a fetishisation of Asian culture by critics. 

Four years later, the brand faced accusations of cultural appropriation and showcasing ‘racist’ underwear at its 2016 fashion show.

A host of famous faces, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, were among the Victoria’s Secret Angels who modelled the lingerie company’s designs on the runway.

They wore detailed creations, donning wings, tails, and statement jewellery as they walked the catwalk in Paris.

However, many were unimpressed by the Asian and Mexican influences on some designs and accused the brand of cultural appropriation.

In a piece entitled ‘Why Can’t Victoria’s Secret Stop Designing Racist Lingerie?’, which was later taken down, Helin Jung criticised the brand in Cosmopolitan magazine.

In 2012, Victoria’s Secret removed a newly launched lingerie collection titled ‘Go East’ after it was labelled racist by critics 

She accused the company of being condescending towards customers in China by borrowing from their culture.

‘Stripping of cultures aside, the emblems that stood out most were the ones that came from Asia — specifically China’, she wrote.


Perhaps the most damning accusations against the brand came from the 2020 article published by The New York Times, which included allegations of misogyny, bullying, and harassment by former Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek.

The damaging article claimed Ed Razek kissed models, asked them to sit on his lap, and grabbed a model’s crotch ahead of a show.

But before the news broke, scandal had already surrounded Razek, who had previously faced criticism in 2016 after saying that transgender models were not used in their annual show because the presentation was ‘fantasy’. 

Razek told Vogue about the past criticism: ‘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.’

Victoria’s Secret also abandoned the idea of targeting a plus-sized audience under Razek’s leadership allegedly because a TV special pitch on the subject flopped 18 years prior. 

Following the New York Times investigation, 100 models signed a second open letter to the CEO of Victoria’s Secret calling for him to take action on the company’s ‘culture of misogyny and abuse’. 

The American lingerie company has been criticised for a lack of body diversity and an ‘entrenched culture of misogyny’ 

The letter urged CEO John Mehas to end what the group described as an ‘entrenched culture of misogyny’ at the lingerie chain.

Signatories of the letter include catwalk stars such as Christy Turlington Burns, Iskra Lawrence, Edie Campbell, Amber Valletta and Felicity Hayward.

Models who have worked with Victoria’s Secret, such as Karen Elson and Caitriona Balfe, also co-signed the document.

They alleged a climate of misogyny was fostered by two top executives – Ed Razek and Les Wexner – at Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands.

The group claimed that they met with bosses at the firm, but their complaints were not taken seriously.

The letter stated: ‘The Model Alliance met with Tammy Roberts Myers, Chief Communications Officer of L Brands in New York City last September, it was made abundantly clear that Victoria’s Secret does not take these complaints seriously.’

The group goes on to describe the treatment of models at the firm as ‘human rights violations’.

The brand attempted to shake its unfavourable reputation with its inclusive 2020 Christmas campaign (pictured)

In one of its most inclusive campaigns , the Victoria’s Secret 2020 Christmas launch also included plus size model Candice Huffine (pictured) 

It read: ‘In the face of the horrifying revelations from the past year, this response is utterly unacceptable.

‘Human rights violations can’t be stopped with a corporate rebranding exercise.’

But later that year, the company attempted to rectify mistakes after repeatedly coming under fire for the lack of body diversity on its catwalks.

The brand tried to shake its unfavourable reputation with its new and inclusive Christmas campaign.

The campaign tried to shake off the criticism of being outdated and out of touch by hiring a more diverse cast of models. 

Plus-size models posed as they showcased the retailer’s festive take on its silk gowns, pyjama sets and barely-there lingerie.

Transgender model Valentina Sampaio was also photographed modelling the latest designs.

Just days after Victoria’s Secret announced Valentina’s modelling position with the brand, Ed Wazek announced his retirement. 

Plus-size models Candice Huffin and Devyn Garcia were also prominent additions to the new festive launch as the brand endeavoured to make their products accessible to customers of all shapes, sizes and ages.

In 2016, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was criticised for cultural appropriation, the collection was showcased by model Kendall Jenner (pictured) 

Top model Karlie Kloss (pictured) was also part of the 2016 runway show that left many viewers unimpressed 

A recent TikTok shared by the lingere brand shows Gigi Hadid in the classic Victoria’s Secret robe discussing the revival the brand  

Viewers on TikTok have flocked to the comment section to share their excitement on the new show

Fast forward to today, and viewers watching Victoria’s Secret TikTok account can witness top models from Gigi Hadid to Lila Moss speaking of a ‘new type of celebration’ with a ‘revived’ energy. 

TikTok users have flocked to the comment section to share their excitement, regardless of previous scandal. 

Underneath an interview with Gigi Hadid about the upcoming show one user wrote: ‘We’ve been WAITINGG!!!’ 

A second added: YESS FINALLY.’

A third said: ‘AHHHHHH SO EXCITED.’

Another user wrote: ‘YESSS OLD VS IS BACKKK.’ 

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