The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is coming back. Does Gen Z care?

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The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is returning for the first time since 2018. (Photo: Getty Images)

Swarovski crystal-covered angel wings, sky-high stilettos and million-dollar fantasy bras: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is returning to the runway for the first time since 2018.

During its 2022 earnings call on March 3, Victoria’s Secret CFO Timothy Johnson said the brand plans to “support the new edition of our fashion show, which is due out later this year.”

In statement sent to Yahoo Life, Victoria’s Secret said it plans to “explore new venues such as reclaiming one of our best marketing and entertainment assets to date and to reflect Turning it into who we are today.”

The show, once darling of the fashion industry, exited the stage in 2019 amid record-low viewership, growing demand for size and casting inclusion from consumers and allegations of sexual harassment within Victoria’s Secret and its parent company, L Brands. Went. of the #MeToo movement.

Following the show’s cancellation, the brand launched number of initiatives aimed at promoting inclusion, including getting rid of its “Angels” in favor of more diverse representatives.

But even with its return, many Gen Z consumers who grew up worshiping famous Angels like Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, and Adriana Lima aren’t sure revival of the show will be able to recreate the sexy ethos that fueled it. Launched in popularity.

fallen angels

in a 2018 interview with the trendEdward Razek, then chief marketing officer of L Brands, which developed the show, said that the brand “attempted to do television special for plus-sizes. [in 2000], No one was interested in it, not even now.” She also told the publication that the brand didn’t feel it necessary to include a transgender model because the show “is a fantasy.”

The show was scrapped the following year. L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdorfer explained that the cancellation was part of the brand’s efforts to “evolve its marketing”. 2019 Q3 Earnings Call,

While the show was on hiatus, the brand launched several efforts to appear more inclusive. In June 2021, Victoria’s Secret launched the VS Collective, move designed to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to “shaping the future” and inclusivity. The cohort included models Adut Akech, Paloma Elsesser and Valentina Sampaio as well as athletes such as skier Eileen Gu and soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

inclusive… but make it sexy

But for some consumers under the age of 30, Victoria’s Secret’s overhaul efforts have come with an erosion of the sexiness that made the brand so popular.

“They lost sight of the core of what made Victoria’s Secret Victoria’s Secret. It was like they missed the point,” justina sharpthe 25-year-old Gen Z content creator tells Yahoo Life. “We still wanted sexy fun. We wanted it to fit and accommodate everyone.”

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Where Victoria’s Secret went wrong, Sharp explained, was its rebrand that mixed inclusivity with silliness.

“If I wanted a beige bra and underwear set, I’d buy it at Target for like $15,” she said.

As the brand included more diverse bodies in its campaigns, some shoppers also noticed a more subdued aesthetic of its lingerie, a far cry from the glitz and glamor consumers have long associated with the company.

For many young women entering their late teens and twenties, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was a household tradition. “My mom and I used to watch it together over popcorn as if it was something I couldn’t miss on television,” says Sharp. “I always thought it was just such a beautiful spectacle. I remember when they put the fantasy bra on Candace [Swanepoel], And it was like dripping in jewelry. I can still image that, even ten years later.”

With this came a spec that many people were eager to buy.

“The [models] That’s why I wanted to shop at Victoria’s Secret for my bras instead of Lane Bryant with my grandma,” says Paige Scavella, a 19-year-old sophomore at Hampton University. “It was huge. Like just watching those models walk up there. I don’t think there’s a girl I can remember in high school who wasn’t talking about it afterward.”

While the brand’s lack of size diversity on the catwalk didn’t fully register until years later, the show’s effects on body image were ubiquitous.

,[My friends would say] ‘Oh, I wish I could walk there.’ ‘Oh, I wish I was 5’10”, or so many pounds, or as thin as him.” Like it was too big for the beauty standard they set for me, especially in my middle school years,” Scavella says.

As expected, young girls idealized women who have admitted to going to extreme lengths to prepare their bodies for the runway, leading to a host of problematic tropes that surfaced over time. Are.

“I loved the show, but I was also 14. And I’m an adult who not only understands what that show represented, but also what it took to make those models there . I understand the damage that the show and the brand did to other women of my generation. I understand the alienation people felt. All those things you don’t know at 14,” Sharp explains.

Sharp also says that as a thin woman, she may be even more naive in some of the ways the show extrapolates. Skavella, on the other hand, says she felt the influence from a young age.

“Throughout my middle school years and the beginning of high school being a plus-size girl, I looked up to these Victoria’s Secret models, like they were ‘Angels.’ They looked beautiful, they were tall, the way His body was proportioned, it really affected my mindset and how I viewed my body when I was younger,” Scavella says.

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She was not alone. And in fact, this lack of representation has caused some people to stop shopping at Victoria’s Secret.

“I don’t want to see a brand I don’t like. I want to see and support brands I love,” Sandra Damien, a millennial content creator who grew up watching fashion shows, tells Yahoo Life Is .

Damien, who says as a millennial, the show served as an icon of fandom at the age of 10, once felt a special attachment to the brand that has waned among the younger generation. And now, at 29, she’s not quite as thrilled with the runway, which strategically excludes people who look like her.

look sexy

The brand’s hesitancy to cast a more diverse lineup for its runway shows alone isn’t the only reason some young people say Victoria’s Secret has lost its ground as a legacy brand. Competing brands grappling at the intersections of inclusivity, comfort and sex appeal put Victoria’s Secret in a tight spot many have never seen before.

“I always think [Victoria’s Secret] Something that would go on to be an important part of my life because they had the first bra that wasn’t from Target or Walmart that I was ever introduced to. So I thought it would be around forever but it slowly faded away. I forgot about them,” Scavella says.

Other Gen Z-ers are rising up with choices that make diversity part of their appeal, such as Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, which found a way to combine an inclusive ethos with the sexiness seen in a lingerie brand.

“When you have a brand like Rihanna who is also doing a fashion show where there is such a huge and obvious difference in how certain types of women are represented and treated, I think the heat is definitely is on,” says Paschal, a 19-year-old English marketing major at Hampton University.

Since its first show in 2019, the Savage x Fenty runway has filled the void that was left by Victoria’s Secret, featuring famous faces including Lizzo and former Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima.

“With brands like Savage x Fenty promoting size inclusivity … I saw more of myself. And I wasn’t thinking of the kind of Angels I aspired to be, because I see girls like that.” I’m looking for what I see but still has that sex appeal,” Scavella says.

Simi Valley, California: In this photo issued on November 9, Precious Lee is seen during Rihanna's Savage x Fenty show Vol.  4 presented by Prime Video in Simi Valley, California;  and aired on November 9, 2022.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Show Volume 4 Presented by Prime Video)

Precious Lee is seen during Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 4. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Show Volume 4, Presented by Prime Video)

However, size and racial inclusion aren’t the only areas of diversity Victoria’s Secret lags behind, points out model Lyric Heard, 26, who grew up dreaming of one day walking the Victoria’s Secret runway.

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“I used to say things like, ‘Oh, I’ll be the exception,'” says Herd, who has a limb gap. “I don’t say that now. He was like a young mind. Because to me being an exception means it is still not accepted.”

Heard has modeled for both Savage x Fenty and Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, two brands that have gained followings with young consumers. Still, she says the modeling industry has a long way to go toward equal inclusion.

Hurd says, “With the difference in organs, I can’t name a single company that’s really up to representation for us. I think we always miss out somehow.”

While she agrees there should be more diversity on set, she is tired of symbolism and insidious attempts at diversity.

“I want to see more women who deserve to be on there because of their skill and their talent. And not just because, you know, you want them for a big show,” Hurd says.

So will Gen Z be tuning in?

With so many options, many Gen Z-ers are apathetic about the brand’s return.

“I’m pretty neutral about it. My friends are pretty neutral about it. I think we’ll definitely take a look at what people have to say and maybe watch some clips,” Paschal says.

Others believe the show will be a make-and-break moment for Victoria’s Secret to show it is moving forward with intent, not just jumping on a trend.

“I think it has a chance to come back and it all depends on the brand. As I remember during this Black Friday, I still went to Victoria’s Secret. It’s not like they’re completely are irrelevant. Everyone still loves the seven for $27 deal.” for underwear. So I think he has a chance depending on how he plays his cards this round,” Scavella says.

For others, the nostalgia of that iconic runway loss will never subside, but they may be looking back with an informed perspective and a critical eye.

“The 14-year-old in me is excited to see another fantasy bra down the runway. The 25-year-old in me is curious to see what they’ll put it on,” says Sharp.

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