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VS Collective: Genuine or PR Stunt?

“Diversity”. “Inclusivity”. “Body Positivity”. Some of the long-awaited trends changing the map of the modelling industry and taking it by storm albeit in a positive manner. Contrary to the industry standard of hiring models with a slender frame, better yet, grooming them to fit into their notion of beauty standards, brands are now advocating for change. Latest to join the bandwagon is Victoria Secret with its “VS Collective” initiative. The intent behind the campaign is still questionable…genuine or merely a PR stunt?

Victoria Secret, in the past, has come under fire for numerous statements perceived as against body positivity. It features a diverse set of personalities including actor and entrepreneur, Priyanka Chopra, LGBTQ model and activist Valentino Sampaio, journalist, photographer and equality advocate, Amanda de Cadenet, LGBTQIA+ activist, pay equity and body positivity advocate Paloma Elsesser, World Champion freestyler skier, Eileen Gu, US Football star Megan Rapinoe and South Sudanese refugee and wellness supporter, Adut Akech. The campaign, according to the brand, is a step toward reshaping their future. In the past, Victoria Secret has come under fire for their contribution to doing next to irreversible damage to minds about body and beauty models. VS models were branded as “Angels” and being an “angel” was easily one of the momentous landmarks achieved by a model. In 2018, Ed Razek, the now-former VS Chief Marketing Officer told Vogue the reason behind not including transgender models in their shows was because they did not fit their “fantasy”. The controversy surrounding this statement led him to quit.

The public eye is increasingly focused on the alignment of business, brand, and behaviour. Past success does not guarantee success in the future without connecting the brand with the global consumer base. These differences determine success and failure. This comes pretty close to Victoria’s Secret’s position in the current market. Refusal to adapt to the evolving society and competition is to be attributed for this downfall.

Over the past few years, we have seen a sharp decline of Victoria’s Secret from all angles. In 2019, their revenue observed a 7% hit recording only $6.81 billion compared to the previous year. It has also cut back on its promotional offers and releasing only limited-edition collections. Not only this but the public’s perception of the brand has also changed.

With the VS Collective initiative, the brand is hopeful to align their business and behavior with that of the rest of the industry. Their current values of transparency and accountability is a step in the right direction to making a splashing comeback. However, it can still be wondered whether this initiative is genuine or merely a PR stunt. One can only hope it is the right one among the two.

Photo Credits: @victoriassecret/Instagram

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