The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has been officially canceled this year as the company works to save its reputation amid plummeting ratings and ongoing backlash over its lack of diversity.
The lingerie giant’s parent company, L Brands, confirmed the end of the holiday runway extravaganza in an earnings call on Thursday, four months after model Shanina Shaik leaked the news.
The decision was part of a move to ‘evolve the messaging of [the company],’ Fortune reports, indicating that the over-the-top event is well on its way to becoming a relic of the past in today’s #MeToo era. The brand has also faced declining sales figures and a fall in the number of viewers tuning into watch the catwalk showcase.
End of an era: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, pictured in 2018, has been canceled for the first time in 23 years after plummeting ratings and years of backlash over its lack of diversity
Famous faces: The show has featured some of the world’s most in-demand models over the years, including Bella Hadid in New York in 2018 (left) and Heidi Klum in Miami in 2008 (right)
Last one? The decision was part of a move to ‘evolve the messaging of [the company]’. The last VS Fashion Show, featured (l-R) Winnie Harlow, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Alexina Graham
Beginning: The first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1995 with models such as Angelika Kallio (left) and Leilani (right) walking the runway
It comes a year after marketing chief Ed Razek saying that the brand would not cast plus-sized or ‘transexual’ models because the show is a ‘fantasy.’
He was rounded on by celebrities such as Halsey, who wrote on Instagram that she had ‘no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity’, just days after performing at the Victoria’s Secret show.
The brand has also come under criticism from Jameela Jamil, who accused the company of being a ‘transphobic, fat phobic company that sets out to exclude most women’, during a Twitter spat with model Sara Sampaio.
The brand has also come under fire for its lack of size diversity, with curvy model Iskra Lawrence among the outspoken critics.
Iskra shared an Instagram video of herself in a bikini in December last year alongside a caption that read: ‘That cellulite, those rolls are cute, that jiggle is sexy and everybody deserves to feel confident in the skin they’re in.’
Ashley Graham also subtly snubbed the brand following Razek’s comments by sharing several photos of women of all sizes walking the runway in lingerie.
She captioned the photos #BeautyBeyondSize.
Victoria’s Secret superstar Lily Aldridge at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai
Joan Smalls (left) walks the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Paris in 2016. Right, Alessandra Ambrosio on the catwalk at the fashion show in Paris in 2016
Spilling the beans: Parent company L Brands confirmed during an earnings call on Thursday that the show has been canceled following months of rumors. Pictured: Lily Aldridge in 2015
There they go: Lily Aldridge, Candice Swanepoel, Doutzen Kroes and Alessandra Ambrosio on the catwalk Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in London in 2014
Past stars: Jessica Hart (left) and Erin Heatherton (right) were among the Angels cast in the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, held at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York
Strut her stuff: Alessandra Ambrosio walks the runway wearing the Victoria’s Secret’s Million-Dollar Fantasy Bra during the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York
As well as a shift in public perception of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the brand is facing a continued decline in sales.
Sales have dropped seven per cent in the latest quarter compared to a two per cent fall during the same period last year, according to Fortune.
Aside from a small rise in the first quarter in 2018, the lingerie retailer has had falling sales every quarter since the fourth quarter in 2016.
Victoria’s Secret shuttered 20 stores in 2018 amid a poor annual sales performance, ending the year with former CEO Jan Singer resigning last November.
It has previously been announced that as many as 53 Victoria Secret stores across the US could close by the end 2019.
CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer acknowledged the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a remarkable marketing achievement,’ but admitted the event did not really impact short-term sales.
Rumors that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was getting canned have been circulating for months, with Shaik letting it slip in July that it was canceled.
‘Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret show won’t be happening this year,’ said the 28-year-old model, who has walked in the show five times since 2011.
Models walk the runway during the 2011 Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley walks the runway during the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York, left. Right, Doutzen Kroes at the 2009 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York
Abbey Lee Kershaw walks during the 2008 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Miami
Adriana Lima at the 2007 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre, left. Right, Gisele Bundchen at the 2006 Fashion Show at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre
Naomi Campbell strikes a pose on the 10th Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York in 2005
‘It’s something I’m not used to because every year around this time I’m training like an Angel,’ she told The Daily Telegraph.
‘But I’m sure in the future something will happen which I’m pretty sure about,’ she added optimistically. ‘I’m sure they’re trying to work on branding and new ways to do the show because it’s the best show in the world.’
The first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1995, and over the past 23 years, it has featured some of the world’s most in-demand models, including Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, and sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid.
However, interest in fashion extravaganza has waned in recent years.
TV ratings for the annual Victoria Secret Fashion Show fell to a historic low of just 3.3 million in 2018, down from a high of more than 10 million viewers in 2011, according to a February 13 report from CNBC.
Its official cancellation follows the announcement in May that the show would no longer be aired on network television after nearly two decades.
The New York Times reported that a leaked internal email from Leslie Wexner, the CEO of L Brands, revealed that the lingerie giant was undergoing some changes.
Supermodel Tyra Banks displays an outfit during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York in 2003 (left). Right, Heidi Klum at the 2002 show in New York City
Throwback: Adriana Lima on the catwalk at the VS Fashion Show 2001 in New York
Victoria’s Secret Angels at the finale of the 1999 Fashion Show at Cipriani, New York City
Long-time favorite: Naomi Campbell on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk in New York in 1998 (left) and 1997
Model Yasmeen Ghauri walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York in 1996
‘Fashion is a business of change. We must evolve and change to grow. With that in mind, we have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,’ he wrote.
‘Going forward we don’t believe network television is the right fit. In 2019 and beyond, we’re focusing on developing exciting and dynamic content and a new kind of event — delivered to our customers on platforms that she’s glued to … and in ways that will push the boundaries of fashion in the global digital age.’
The email came six months after marketing chief Ed Razek dismissed calls for plus-sized and ‘transexual’ models, telling Vogue at the time that the show is a ‘fantasy.’
‘We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t,’ he said.
‘I don’t think we can be all things to all customers. It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store.’
Razek, who ended up resigning in August, apologized for the gaffe, but not before ThirdLove founder Heidi Zak seized on it with a scathing full-page ad in the New York Times.
‘You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women,’ Zak wrote. ‘Your show may be a “fantasy,” but we live in reality… We may not have been a woman’s first love, but we will be her last.’
Standard: For years, Victoria’s Secret has faced backlash for using only incredibly thin models in its campaigns and fashion shows. The brand came under fire for this campaign in 2014
Changes: Ali Tate Cutler became the first size 14 model to be featured in a Victoria’s Secret campaign last month as part of the brand’s partnership with the lingerie retailer Bluebella
New: The company has been trying to revive it’s brand by hiring a more diverse cast of models, including transgender beauty Valentina Sampaio (left) and curvy star Lorena Duran (right)
Competition: Rihanna’s wildly successful Savage X Fenty lingerie line is among the brands that have given Victoria’s Secret a run for its money in recent years
Winning: Numerous headlines purported that Savage X Fenty’s second annual fashion show, which featured a wide representation of model, had ‘killed’ Victoria’s Secret
The brand has tried to shake off its image as being outdated and out of touch by hiring a more diverse cast of models, including transgender beauty Valentina Sampaio.
Victoria’s Secret recently featured a size 14 model — Ali Tate Cutler — in an ad campaign for the first time as part of its partnership with London-based lingerie brand Bluebella.
The retailer has been facing stiff competition from newer lingerie brands with more inclusive marketing strategies aimed at women of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones.
Rihanna’s wildly successful Savage X Fenty lingerie line is among the brands that have given Victoria’s Secret a run for its money in recent years.
The singer’s second annual Savage x Fenty runway show streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on September 20, a little over a week after it was filmed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn during New York Fashion Week.
Numerous headlines purported that the diverse spectacular, which featured musical performances, dancers, and a wide representation of models, had ‘killed’ Victoria’s Secret.
Bella Hadid recently indicated that she ‘never felt powerful’ during the three Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows she has walked in her career.