The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show happened this week, but amidst the hype and glamour of the event, the lingerie company faced a backlash on social media, after a top executive’s comment about trans and plus-sized models.
Edward Razek, the brand’s chief marketing officer, recently criticised media coverage of Rihanna‘s recent Savage x Fenty runway show, in heavily pregnant model Slick Woods walked the runway before literally going into labour backstage.
Razek claimed that in his view, Victoria’s Secret would be accused of “pandering” if they made a similar gesture, and insisted that the company has at least “considered” putting trans and plus-sized models in its shows in the past.
Things went off the rails from there, however, as Razek began to carp about the criticism that both he and Victoria’s Secret face on social media. Making reference to the range of sizes it produces – which currently goes from 30A to 40DDD – he said:
“[It’s] like, why don’t you do 50? Why don’t you do 60? Why don’t you do 24? It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader.”
Unsurprisingly, his comments drew ire on social media, where he was criticised for being out of touch and alienating many potential customers for the brand. Overnight, an statement appeared on the Victoria’s Secret Twitter, in which Razek apologised for his “insensitive” remarks.
“To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show,” he wrote. “We’ve had transgender models come to castings …and like many others, they didn’t make it … but it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
Please read this important message from Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer, L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret). pic.twitter.com/CW8BztmOaM
— Victoria’s Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 10, 2018
The once-powerful retailer has experienced financial struggles in recent times, with declining sales thanks to increased competition in the market as well as consumers seeking labels that present a more ‘authentic’ image to consumers.
Iconic American brand Abercrombie & Fitch has faced similar troubles in recent years, and is in the process of completely revamping itself under the stewardship of designer Aaron Levine, so it remains to be seen whether Victoria’s Secret will be able to pull off something similar.