Victoria’s Secret has an image problem.


The company thinks their brand is now slutty instead of sexy and profits are leaking:

The chief executive of the brand known for its
provocative televised fashion shows and alluring stores made an
admission yesterday. In her mind, the brand has become “too sexy” — or
at least the wrong kind of sexy.

“We have so much gotten off our heritage,” CEO Sharen
Jester Turney said in a conference call with analysts. Responding to
the past year’s weak sales and focus-group feedback, she said, “We will
return to an ultra-feminine lingerie brand to meet [customer] needs and
expectations.”

Do you agree with the need to reel in the slutty from sexy?


Is lingerie required to be sexy for women or to entice men?
Are women really in need of lacy things in order to win the passion of a man?


The bottom line rules the boob:

Following a dismal holiday season, during which sales
at stores open at least a year dropped 8%, executives have been doing
some soul-searching and preparing to take steps to overhaul the brand’s
image.

Is it possible to recapture the slutty viper
and replace its slithering skin back into Pandora’s Box?
Or is too difficult to recall the sexy into the slutty after nothing is
left to the imagination but a regretful wondering about the
exploitative aesthetic that brought us to the public branding of
private female assets for profit?

24 Comments

  1. Perhaps they’re just following the current media trend where slutty and sexy are deemed to be one and the same thing (just look at any mens magazine out there – maxim, FHM and the like).
    It’s a real shame because they really aren’t remotely similar concepts.
    Not that there isn’t a time and place for slutty, but too much of it and it becomes decidedly un-sexy.
    Cheers
    Mike

  2. urbanspaceman —
    I think you’re right there’s no longer a cultural line between slutty and sexy and I find it funny that Victoria’s Secret — a propagator of that fuzzing — is now trying to blame their “going too far over the line” with their decline in profits.
    Isn’t that the sort of hunger the wolf claimed after devouring all the sheep?
    Is it possible for a slutty manufacturer to now play the prude to regain lost sales?
    I doubt it!

  3. I think one of their worse problems is that they overdiversified. Victoria’s Secret should be about lingerie – there shouldn’t be blue jeans and sweatsuits and breath mints as well.
    I agree with Anne. There can be great sexiness in even a pair of ‘granny underwear’ around someone’s knees.

  4. David,
    You asked:
    “Is it possible for a slutty manufacturer to now play the prude to regain lost sales?”
    I’d say yes – after all politicians do it all the time. Flip-flop their views and steal the plans of the opposition party to pass them off as their own.
    The public has a very short term memory and if going with the moral high ground will sell more goods to different people then everybody else will soon forget the old image.
    Cheers
    Mike

  5. Interest to me is that this is what rises concern to the executives and therefore brings Victoria’s Secret’s image into discussion., The societal effects from the marketing of this over-sexed brand are much bigger then the fall of their bottom line – let alone the minimal reporting about the horrible working conditions their factories have forced on their workers.
    I’ve discussed the brand’s manipulations myself – but am so glad you bring it up here!

  6. David,
    I think they simply lost sight of the customer!
    And they didn’ t progress with their customers.
    I can’t even remember the last time I leafed through one of their catalogs. They’re producing these provocative catalogs for a bunch of men to “diddley do” over. But these men are obviously not buying the goods!
    And the women aren’t either. Because no woman wants to be overshadowed by a Victoria’s Secret model in their own home!
    So they have progressively alienated their core customer who I used to be one of.
    I frequently bought from them because they had the most beautiful lingerie and p.j.s around.
    But they have truly lost sight of who they are …
    And subconsciously I resent that catalog coming into my home!
    David, I never knew I was so angry at Victoria’s Secret!

  7. I think you’re right, dmtessi, they lost sight of their primary concern: Women like you who want to look good at a fair price.
    When the selling becomes more obnoxious than the real life practice, there is a disconnect between company and consumer that consumes profit and wipes away a valuable relationship.
    I remember as a young boy looking at the “bras and underwear” pages of the Sears catalog… as all boys my age did at the time to learn about anatomy and the power of fantasy… and those Sears models — even now — are much more beautiful and sensual than the VS pornography you see online and in catalogs.

  8. David,
    I’m so glad you made that comment about the Sear’s models being more appealing to you.
    I was going to say in my original post that a little bit of restraint, even in the marketing of underwear and lingerie is so much more intriguing. But what do I know?
    I’m a woman and maybe most men like that sort of thing. And since I’ve now hit middle age, I might be really out of touch.
    So it means alot when someone like you says that . . .
    If more could be left to the imagination. Well, that’s a powerful thing. An intelligent man understands this idea. One who strictly thinks with his “you know what” would never get it.

  9. dmtessi!
    You’re right about the ruination of imagination and I wrote on that idea, using a different tangent, but you strike the same chord in connecting the idea to the “sexiness” of Sears:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/08/22/ruination-of-imagination/
    Imagination is vital.
    My wife is at her most sexy when she puts on one of my tank tops. For some reason having her in my shirt makes me wild and I don’t wear anything lacy or sexy — but when her figure fills out the fabric that covers my form — the delightful differences between the sexes becomes vibrant and obvious! :mrgreen:

  10. Interesting article David!
    I agree there is a very fine line between being sensuous and vulgar; but I also think it’s more than in a face than it’s in the dress…
    I really don’t find VS’ models that appealing, may be because I am not the right target audience.
    Do men really find it appealing or “the notion of a girl in strings has to be liked” is imposed by the media only?
    If yes, then it’s a great example of “group thinking” – I guess.
    I am more of a “Jockey” person than “Secrets” – ‘no nonsense’ in short!

  11. Hi Katha!
    I find myself looking at the VS women and never the clothes. The first woman in the image series is pretty hard for me to resist… 😀
    I agree… a relaxed, natural, woman is very sexy. Having tight lace and a string up your butt is never sensual to me because I keep thinking what pain the poor woman must be in wearing it… 😆