When Victoria’s Secret’s three-story flagship in midtown Manhattan reopens at the end of July, all traces of the company’s former pride and joy, the Victoria’s Secret Angels, will be removed.
The store, which has been closed since the pandemic hit in March of last year, is preparing for a reopening that will not include the company’s trademark framed photographs of supermodels looking ecstatic while wearing the company’s lingerie.
A museum-like homage to the store’s Angels has long occupied the store’s third-floor, which is being demolished by the construction crew. The exhibit featured headless mannequins dressed in elaborate costumes from past Victoria’s Secret fashion shows (think Las Vegas showgirl meets S&M-obsessed fashion designer).
Customers can also say goodbye to the videos of its fashion shows and model interviews that played on a continuous loop on television screens, according to a spokesperson.
The flagship, which is in the heart of a bustling shopping district near Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, is one of hundreds of Victoria’s Secret stores undergoing major renovations as the lingerie retailer scrambles to transform its image from one that objectsifies women to one that empowers them.
Following backlash over its refusal to include women of all shapes and sizes, Victoria’s Secret canceled its once-popular fashion show in 2019. Since last year, it has been gradually adding plus-size models to its marketing materials.
The company recently announced that it has signed soccer star Megan Rapinoe, freestyle skier Eileen Gu, and a slew of other accomplished women to help rebuild its brand in its most dramatic move yet. Priyanka Chopra Jonas, an Indian actress and tech investor, and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser are among the other brand ambassadors.
As the company prepares to be spun off from its parent company, L Brands, in August, redoing the stores, which have largely looked the same since the mid-1990s, is a big and likely costly step in the process.
About half of Victoria’s Secret’s 1,400 global stores have begun to replace the angel imagery with a look that is “more inviting for women to enter,” according to Raul Martinez, the company’s new creative director.
The lingerie juggernaut’s newly revamped store at the Polaris Fashion Place shopping mall near its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters, where the lingerie juggernaut has upped the brightness of light bulbs and exchanged its black lacquered walls for a softer shade of pink, is perhaps the best example of the bricks-and-mortar makeover.
It’s also ditched the decade-old boudoir decor (think bubblegum pink velvet furniture) in favor of simple white and black display tables and dressers.
For the first time in the company’s 44-year history, the mannequins feature full-bodied figures, and the models on display are of women of all shapes and sizes who look sexy because they are happy, rather than the other way around.
According to a spokesperson, store associates are being educated on the company’s new ethos using slide presentations shared by CEO Martin Waters at companywide meetings.
Martin has echoed what he has been telling associates in a recent earnings call where he said: “We are moving from what men want to what women want; We are going from a look to a feeling, from excluding most women to including all women, from mostly unattainable to grounded in real life.