Victoria's Secret is rebranding its image in an attempt to stave off lower sales, and it all started by dropping the Angels, a lineup of supermodels heavily featured in the brand's advertising and the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show specials. Dancing With the Stars host Tyra Banks, who was the first Black Victoria's Secret contract model, commented on the situation Thursday, embracing the "beauty revolution" started by today's models. In an interview with The New York Times Thursday, Victoria's Secret CEO Martin Waters said he no longer believed the Angels are "culturally relevant."
"First is hard. First is lonely. But first is necessary. First is crucial so that a door can be opened for others to fit through," Banks wrote on Instagram, alongside an old photo of herself on the fashion show runway. "Within a 10-year span starting in 1995, I was the first Black [Victoria's Secret] contract model ever. The first Black Victoria’s Secret Cover model. The first Black VS model to do so many other groundbreaking things with the brand - as well as other brands."
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Banks noted that after a "first," there has to be a "flow" to follow. "I retired from the runway 16 years ago - and I’m proud that in my lifetime, I’m witnessing a beauty revolution," Banks wrote. "To the new collective of badass ROLE models, I may have cracked that door open, but y’all are charging through. Keep on keepin’ on until we all LOSE COUNT of how many are breaking through behind you."
On Thursday, Victoria's Secret announced plans to drop the Angels in favor of The VS Collective. The group includes seven women celebrated for their achievements, not their bodies. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, skier Eileen Gu, model and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elesser, and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas are among those taking part in the effort to rebrand the company. The decision comes after years of Victoria's Secret being criticized for selling lingerie as part of a male fantasy. It also comes amid slow sales and the revelations that former owner Leslie H. Wexner had ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
"I’ve known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven’t had the control of the company to be able to do it," Waters told the Times. He added that he does not see the Angels as "being culturally relevant." Martha Pease, the new chief marketing officer, is leading the VS Collective initiative. The rebranding includes phasing out Angels imagery in stores and including mannequins of multiple sizes. There will still be lacy lingerie sold, but more items will be added to the company's roster, including sportswear.
"We’re going to look at new customers," Pease told Bloomberg. "And that will drive the demand that new customers will have for our brand."