Victoria’s Secret will soon have a new creative director, its latest attempt to revive the business.
Raúl Martinez, head creative director at Condé Nast, is joining the lingerie giant as its new head creative director, starting in January.
“The evolution of the Victoria’s Secret brand is among the most critical priorities for VS NewCo, and over the last several months, Raúl has immersed himself in our business,” Martin Waters, Victoria’s Secret Lingerie’s chief executive officer, wrote in an internal company memo Wednesday, which was later obtained by WWD. “Raúl’s creative vision — anchored around authentic imagery with an international, editorial point-of-view — foregrounds a narrative of inclusivity, positivity and female empowerment that both feels true to the brand and speaks compellingly to our cultural moment. Drawn to the brand’s iconic influence (his own 15-year-old daughter is a shopper), Raúl looks forward to having a hand in writing Victoria Secret’s next chapter.
“More than creating extraordinary fashion imagery — some of which has been displayed in galleries and art publications — Raúl is singular in his ability to interpret a brand’s distinct sensibilities through an elevated lens, communicating the truth of its mission with an unwavering sense of style,” Waters added.
The seasoned creative director, who will be based in New York and report directly to Waters, has served as Condé Nast’s corporate creative director since 2015, working closely with Anna Wintour on magazines such as Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair. Since 2018, he has also led the creative team at CNX, Condé Nast’s creative services arm. He cofounded AR New York, a creative agency, in 1996.
“I am excited to join Victoria’s Secret at this pivotal moment in its history,” Martinez said. “It’s an honor to be a part of such an iconic brand and help reimagine its next era. The talented team at VS is committed to this new chapter and together we will build a narrative that celebrates all women…one that is both aspirational and inclusive.”
A spokesperson from Condé Nast added in a statement, “We have nothing but respect for Raúl and are deeply grateful for everything he’s done for Condé Nast. We wish him all the very best in his new role.”
The Victoria’s Secret Lingerie visual merchandising and creative teams will report to Martinez. In addition to the lingerie division, Martinez will work closely with the visual and creative teams in the Pink and beauty divisions to “harmonize the creative concepts and content across all media for Victoria’s Secret NewCo,” Waters wrote.
The addition of Martinez follows a string of recent senior-level promotions at the lingerie business — including Waters himself, who succeeded John Mehas shortly before Thanksgiving — in its latest attempt to turn the brand around.
While still the market share leader in the U.S. women’s intimate apparel business, Victoria’s Secret’s market share has steadily declined over the last five years. The company controlled 32 percent of the market in 2015, according to Euromonitor International, while as of September, Victoria’s Secret’s share had fallen to 16 percent, according to market research firm The NPD Group.
In February, L Brands, which also owns the Bath & Body Works business, revealed plans to sell a majority stake of the Victoria’s Secret business — which includes the lingerie, beauty and Pink divisions — to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $525 million. The deal fell through amid the pandemic.
L Brands later unveiled plans to spin off the Victoria’s Secret business into a private company, leaving Bath & Body Works to be a stand-alone public firm, but has yet to release a solid date.
The company has also freed up funds by closing hundreds of Victoria’s Secret stores this year, including the Hong Kong flagship, sold a majority stake of Victoria’s Secret U.K. business to Next plc and trimmed $400 million in expenses by reducing the corporate headcount.
Investors seem pleased with the results. Shares of L Brands are up more than 111 percent year-over-year. The brand’s updated marketing materials, including plus-size models and less overtly sexy offerings, along with a greater selection of comfort-based styles has satisfied some consumers, too. Total comparable sales were up 4 percent, year-over-year, in the Victoria’s Secret business during the most recent quarter, compared with the same time last year.