Victoria’s Secret Embraces ‘Go Woke, Go Broke’ Mentality, Wants to Shift Back to “Sexiness”

By: Lauren | Last updated: Mar 26, 2024

Victoria’s Secret is one of the world’s most famous lingerie companies. Since its inception in 1977, the brand has focused on sexy underwear and sleepwear that undoubtedly glorifies the “standard” female body.

However, in the past few years, Victoria’s Secret has tried to become more inclusive and attentive to “woke” culture. But now, they say they’re going back.

Victoria’s Secret Reputation

For decades, Victoria’s Secret has had a reputation for being wildly sexy and alluring and almost too seductive for some people’s taste.

Models Lily Aldridge, Adriana Lima, Elsa Hosk, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Taylor Hill walk the runway during the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Source: Michael Stewart/Getty Images

But it’s not just the company’s products that gave it such a sultry reputation, but also its choice of models.

The World-Famous Victoria’s Secret

First in photographs in its stores and then on its website, Victoria’s Secret has always used tall, skinny models to show off its lingerie.

Models pose on the runway during the 2015 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Source: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

And every year, the company would put on the incredible Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in which dozens of amazingly tall and unbelievably slim women would walk the catwalk in nothing but underwear and a set of angel wings.

Let’s Talk About Victoria’s Secret Angels

These women became referred to as Victoria’s Secret Angels, and for many, they were the epitome of sexuality and perfection.

Karolina Kurkova, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima modeling as Victoria’s Secret angels

Source: Jason Nevader/WireImage/Getty Images

And while many worshiped these women, others started to wonder if their identical bodies and the lingerie they wore were accurate or healthy representations of women around the world.

Megan Rapinoe Called Out Victoria’s Secret

In 2021, Olympian and famous LGBTQ+ activist Megan Rapinoe directly called out Victoria’s Secret for its choice of models and products.

Professional soccer player, Olympian, and LGBTQ+ activist Megan Rapinoe

Source: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

She explained that the message the brand was sending was “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired” and that it was truly “really harmful.”

The LGBTQ+ Community Has Been Fighting for Inclusivity Across All Industries

Of course, Megan isn’t the only activist to speak out against cultural insensitivity and non-inclusive brands.

People wave rainbow flags as they watch the New York City Pride Parade

Professional soccer player, Olympian, and LGBTQ+ activist Megan Rapinoe

In fact, many activists within the LGBTQ+ community have been arguing for years that companies around the world need to be far more inclusive and aware of how their branding makes people feel about themselves.


Victoria’s Secret Made a Real Change Last Year

In order to ensure the company didn’t get left behind with the new outlook on individuality and sexuality, Victoria’s Secret made quite a big change last year.

Screenshot of Victoria’s Secret Instagram feed with nine photos of women wearing black clothing

Source: @victoriassecret/Instagram

Instead of constantly posting women in the brand’s sensual underwear, it created a campaign of fully dressed women wearing Victoria’s Secret’s new clothing line.


Comparing the New Look to the Old Look

Comparatively, this new look couldn’t have been more different from the previous aesthetic, and it looked nothing like what people have come to expect from Victoria’s Secret.

Screenshot of Victoria’s Secret Instagram feed with nine photos of women wearing lingerie

Source: @victoriassecret/Instagram

The older posts were, of course, more sensual and showed more skin, but they were also colorful and fun.


The Plan Didn’t Work

And unsurprisingly, the new look didn’t go over well with Victoria’s Secret customers. In fact, their sales dropped by 5% from the previous year and 15% from 2020.

Photo of a Victoria’s Secret store in a mall with people shopping

Source: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

So, in order to increase profits once again, Victoria’s Secret president Greg Unis has announced the company is making another change.


Victoria’s Secret Is Bringing Sexy Back

President Greg Unis made the announcement that Victoria’s Secret will once again focus on “sexiness,” just as it has for decades.

Victoria's Secret bras are displayed for sale

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

However, Unis wanted to make it exceptionally clear that the brand will continue to focus on inclusivity and diversity while still centering on a sensual as opposed to an editorial look.


Victoria’s Secret Will Still Sell a Variety of Apparel

As well as their traditional sexy lingerie, the company will also be selling swimwear, sleepwear, slip dresses, and even some active wear.

Three photos of women wearing silk pajamas from Victoria’s Secret


And while the models will certainly not all look the same or be the same size as they were 20 years ago, the common theme will absolutely be sensuality.


Victoria’s Secret Is Not the First Company to Deal With the “Go Woke, Go Broke” Mentality

It’s important to understand that several companies, such as Bud Light, have struggled in their journey toward inclusivity. While some people, such as those in the LGBTQ+ community, believe that companies need to do better to show all kinds of people, others argue that it’s bad for overall business.

A sign crossing out Bud Light beer is seen along a country road

Source: Natalie Behring/Getty Images

The bottom line is that Bud Light and Victoria’s Secret are just two of many companies that are trying to find the sweet spot for advertising and products that appeal to the entire population. Though with the current political divide in the U.S., it’s a lot harder than it sounds.