Victoria’s Secret phases out ‘Angels,’ will start featuring female activists

Victoria's Secret phases out 'Angels,' will start featuring female activists
(Image: Victoria’s Secret via Cosmopolitan)

Say goodbye to the wing-wearing runway models, and say hello to female advocates and activists.

Fashion giant and the largest lingerie brand in the world, Victoria’s Secret, is swapping their iconic Angels collective with influential women who are “famous for their achievements and not their proportions,” the New York Times reports first.

Introducing the female-forward VS Collective, Victoria’s Secret has partnered with seven fresh female faces who will represent the brand in its various social, cultural, and business relationships. Joining the fold are actress philanthropist Priyanka Chopra Jonas, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Victoria’s Secret’s first openly transgender model Valentina Sampaio, photographer and #GirlGaze founder Amanda de Cadenet, Chinese American freestyle skier Eileen Gu, South Sudanese Australian refugee-turned-runway model Adut Akech, and British plus-size model Paloma Elsesser.

Victoria’s Secret has also put in place an all-new board of directors comprised of an all-women team save for one seat.

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, Victoria’s Secret’s Chief Brand Executive, said, pertaining to the brand’s perennial issue of falling short of inclusion and pandering to the male fantasy. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

The VS Collective will effectively supplant the Angels that graced the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Started in 1995, the lavish fashion show introduced the wing-wearing ambassadors in the 1998 edition to capitalize on the success of its bra line of the same name, first worn by models Tyra Banks, Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Pestova, and Stephanie Seymour. 

Through the years, the wings have become an emblem of the brand, with high-profile models like Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Candice Swanepoel elevating the status of VS Angels.

Rapinoe, who had called Victoria’s Secret’s previous identity “patriarchal,” “sexist,” and “harmful to women” by presenting a perspective that was constructed through the male lens, now commits to working with Chopra in creating a new line of inclusive garments that will debut next year. Likewise, Elsesser has also said that she will start lobbying for the lingerie brand to increase its sizing to 5XL to accommodate plus-size wearers.

So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I’m thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “I believe in the power of authenticity and community and am excited to show what can be done through The VS Collective.”

Despite the drastic change of direction towards inclusivity, some conservative social media users have turned to calling the shift as indulging the “commie” ideology, responding with the hashtag #WokeIsBroke.

Others also noted that while the change is welcome, it will be an uphill battle for Victoria’s Secret which, for years, have been flanked by executives entrenched in scandals and have espoused intolerant ideals in the past.

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