L Brands is an American fashion retailer based in Columbus, Ohio. Two of its most well-known brands are Bath and Body Works and Victoria’s Secret (VS). In this article, Fashinza examines Victoria’s Secret’s recent history as well as the company going public.
Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977 by entrepreneur couple Roy and Gaye Redmond. According to company lore, Roy wanted “to create a lingerie store. . .to make men feel comfortable shopping there.” True to the founder’s vision, Victoria’s Secret has been open to both men and women shopping for women’s clothing. Today, the company is a household name due in no small part to its lingerie line and devoted male fanbase.
Victoria’s Secret has not fared well in recent years. Public opinion of the brand has declined due to its failure to adapt to changing times. Indeed, competitors like Savage x Fenty have thrived because they cater to women of all body types.
Another reason for Victoria’ Secret’s decline are the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against it. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against VS due to its “entrenched culture of misogyny.” Former chairman Leslie Wexner had to step down from his role because of his connection to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Needless to say, these scandals tarnished the lingerie brand’s reputation and caused its stock to plummet.
Poor business performance and abuse allegations forced L Brands to announce a sale of Victoria’s Secret. Sycamore Partners, an American private equity firm, was slated to purchase a majority stake in VS. Unfortunately, the deal fell through because of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues. Next plc, a British clothing retailer, later purchased a majority stake in VS for an undisclosed amount.
Today, L brands has revamped Victoria’s Secret in the hopes of drawing new customers. Like its sister brand Bath & Body Works, VS is being launched as a publicly traded company. Both companies will also operate independently from each other. This restructuring process is expected to be complete in August.
Corporate restructuring is not the only way VS is pivoting. The company has decreased expenditure-going as far to shut down hundreds of its stores-in an effort to become profitable. Secondly, body positive and feminist bloggers have long criticized Victoria’s Secret for promoting limiting beauty standards for women. The company is now responding to these criticisms by hiring plus size models. Lastly, VS is placing less emphasis on its famous lingerie line. Instead, the company will refresh its merchandise and sell more workout gear and comfy clothes.
Last year, L Brands hoped to sell off Victoria’s Secret for $5-7 billion dollars. Today, its new chairwoman Sarah Nash wants to repair the tarnished image of VS. Nash hopes to make Victoria’s Secret popular again among women. This is not quite an uphill battle as it seems. A Business Insider survey confirms this fact: in 2014, “54% of women preferred the brand to all other” underwear brands. Victoria’s Secret can achieve its unparalleled market share once again as it goes public.