Why Victoria’s Secret’s new swimwear line featuring plus-sized models is “unacceptable”

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(Image: Victoria’s Secret)

The highly-publicized swimwear shoot by Victoria’s Secret for its 2021 Swim “Magalogue” was a huge success in breathing life back to the luxury brand’s swimwear line. 

As first reported by WWD on Tuesday, the campaign features two plus-sized models: Paloma Elsesser, one of TIME’s 100 Next in 2021, and Jill Kortleve, the first plus-sized model to walk for Chanel since 2010 during last year’s Paris Fashion Week.


At first glance, this latest campaign looks to be a huge leap for Victoria’s Secret, the company that had to discontinue its swimwear line in 2016 after losing market shares to more body-positive brands. It’s a breath of fresh air that ends with a long sigh, because when the apparel hit virtual shelves, buyers were bummed to discover that they only carry up to size XXL.

According to a resource provided by Refinery29, Victoria’s Secret’s new size range for swimwear “goes from a 32A to a 40D and an XS to an XL.” Looking at the sizing guide on the site, we learned that the largest available size, XXL, only corresponds to a size 20 and will only fit up to a 38” waist and up to a 48.5” hip. 

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(Screengrab from Victoria’s Secret website)

If we look at industry standards for plus-sizing, we will see that Victoria’s Secret’s size 20 is way below the grade. Plus-sizes expand up to 4XL and should be able to accommodate up to a 52” waist and up to a 60” hip. In fact, for other swimwear brands, Victoria Secret’s size 20 is the smallest size available.

“When a brand like Victoria’s Secret uses deceptive marketing tactics, not only are they tokenizing the plus-size models they use, they’re also deceiving their customers,” says Taylor Long, founder of Nomads, which sells swimwears sized XS to 4XL. She is also an advocate for size-inclusivity in the fashion industry, and for her, it is unacceptable that a brand with an influence as powerful as Victoria’s Secret cannot offer inclusive sizes as smaller independent brands have.

“[Victoria’s Secret] is one of many brands that are trying to capitalize on the size inclusion movement without doing any of the hard work, which would include designing, producing, and carrying plus-sizes in their store. If smaller brands with much smaller budgets can design and produce inclusive styles and size ranges, then there is absolutely no reason why [Victoria’s Secret] can’t,” Long stressed.

Is this review a reach or did Victoria’s Secret really miss the mark?

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