Here’s a little secret: Not everyone hates Victoria’s Secret.
The lingerie brand may be struggling with declining sales, a falling stock price and a founder caught up with a convicted sex offender, all amid rumors that the parent company is looking to offload the brand. But there are still plenty of devoted shoppers. Like pop icon Cyndi Lauper.
“Victoria’s Secret enables women who don’t have a lot of money to go in and actually shop for undergarments that make her feel better about herself,” Lauper told WWD. The singer was in New York Tuesday night for the annual Femmy Awards, one of the intimates apparel industry’s biggest events. She was not wearing Victoria’s Secret, but said she likes the idea that the brand is accessible to so many girls.
“Women who don’t have money can go into a store and buy some pretty underwear and feel good,” Lauper said.
While Lauper acknowledged that it’s a good thing that competing brands, such as American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie and ThirdLove, showcase a diverse array of models, she still thinks the annual fashion show, which was axed last year, is just that — a show.
“It’s not what real people look like,” Lauper said. “They have these models; they do all this stuff. It’s a show.
“You gotta give everybody a break with all of this precious s–t,” she continued. “Do you want to look like a Barbie doll? We all had Barbie dolls when we were little. Guess what? When I took her ponytail out, the little b—h was bald. So what am I supposed to do? I know it’s bullshit. Nobody has a body shaped like that.”
Despite Lauper’s convictions, Victoria’s Secret’s image continues to erode. Earlier this month The New York Times published a scathing review of parent company L Brands, including interviews with former Angels who alleged mistreatment at the hands of founder Leslie H. Wexner and a pervasive “culture of misogyny.”
It was also reported that Wexner was in talks to step down as chairman of the company he founded as consumers continue to gravitate toward innerwear brands that promote inclusion and comfort.
Even so, a number of analysts upgraded L Brands stock in recent weeks, bullish on the company’s turnaround potential. Victoria’s Secret is also still the market share leader in women’s intimates apparel in both the U.S. and internationally. And with more than 1,100 brick-and-mortar retail locations, the brand is an easy choice for many women who want to try on a bra in real life before they buy.
“It’s like cornflakes,” said musician Nona Hendryx, emcee of Tuesday night’s Femmy Awards. “Everybody can buy cornflakes. Victoria’s Secret became like the cornflakes of underwear. It became something that almost everyone could attain. I think it’s important to have those [options] for women who want it.
“I don’t say that fashion doesn’t play a role in how women see themselves and what they purchase and what they desire to be or look like,” Hendryx continued. “But you also have to look at the positive things. And it takes time for things to change. The good thing is that today, if you’re a plus-size woman, you can shop almost anywhere. So that stigma is gone.”