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Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Megan Rapinoe join Victoria’s Secret campaign to say bye to Angels and redefine ‘sexy’

‘I’ve known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven’t had the control of the company to be able to do it’ says the company’s chief executive

Peony Hirwani
Thursday 17 June 2021 08:51 BST
Megan Rapinoe to join Victoria’s Secret campaign
Megan Rapinoe to join Victoria’s Secret campaign (Getty Images)

In a bid to reinvent the brand’s image, Victoria’s Secret has bid farewell to its iconic Angels and welcomed Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Megan Rapinoe as its newest spokespeople along with five other women not known for being supermodels.

The company says its rebranding will be more comprehensive and the group of women will work with the retailer to reclassify what “sexy” means.

All seven women will focus on advising the brand, appearing in marketing material, and share their respective stories in a new podcast.

Since the beginning, Victoria’s Secret’s supermodels dubbed Angels with lean and curvy bodies embodied a broadly acknowledged stereotype of feminity.

However, in more recent years the brand has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism for its practices.

The 35-year-old soccer player Rapinoe said that the company was sending a “really harmful” message that 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 it was very much marketed toward younger women.”

Victoria's Secret Show 2014

According to the New York Times, the company’s chief executive Martin Waters said that the company wants to reestablish itself as a leading global “advocate” for female empowerment.

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” said Waters. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

By introducing freestyle skier Eileen Gu, trans model Valentina Sampaio, model and South Sudanese refugee Adut Akech, photographer Amanda de Cadenet, and model and advocate Paloma Essler to the new campaign, the company hopes to make progress towards change.

“I’ve known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven’t had the control of the company to be able to do it,” said Waters, adding that he doesn’t see the Angels as “culturally relevant.”

Calling the group called the “VS Collective”, the brand will also have a new executive team and board of directors which will comprise of a majority of women.

An insider told Page Six that this new campaign is “a group of women inspiring change and positivity. It’s another step they’re (VS) taking towards transforming the brand. The entire industry thought Victoria’s Secret was done.”

Backstage footage of Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2017 held in Shanghai

Additionally, the brand’s new creative director Raúl Martinez likewise said every aspect of the brand is being reconsidered.

“It has to have a purpose, a reason, be there for the consumer to say: Wow, they’re really evolving,” he said while recalling how his 15-year-old daughter convinced him to join the lingerie giant. “She said, ‘Dad. Do it for us. The Gen Zs,’” he recalled.

This rebranding comes almost three years after the company’s former chief marketing officer Ed Razek was criticised for sharing several controversial statements about the casting of plus-size models, saying audiences had “no interest in it”.

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