Here’s why you never see trans or plus size women in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Victoria’s Secret is not exactly a brand known for its diversity or inclusivity. In fact, its sales have been in a steady decline the last few years, as shoppers have taken note that VS doesn’t offer much for women who aren’t into leather and lace and, more importantly, able to fit into a pretty restrictive set of lingerie sizes.
And, according to the brand itself, they’re not about inclusivity with their models, either.
As fashion shows for brands across the board become more and more diverse, VS still gives us a parade of almost entirely white, blond size-twos, and in 2018, we’re over it. But you know who isn’t getting that memo? The brand’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek, a 70-year-old man who also takes part in casting the annual fashion show.
Razek just gave an interview to Vogue in which he addresses the lack of diversity at the VS Fashion Show, as well as the absence of inclusive sizing across the brand. And hoo boy, is this guy out of touch. The interview is severely trans- and fat-phobic and honestly just a wild ride. Buckle in for this one.
First, he addresses why you won’t see plus-size models in the VS Fashion Show, or inclusive sizes in VS stores. It’s just not their target market — you understand, right?
“I think we address the way the market is shifting on a constant basis. If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have. We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.”
That attitude is kind of insane, from a marketing standpoint. Why wouldn’t you want to market to the entire world? Why would you purposefully exclude potential profit-generating markets? There’s something to be said for exclusivity, but considering there’s a Victoria’s Secret in every failing mall in every town in America, we’re well past that point.
And anyway, Razek sees no reason for including anyone who doesn’t fit the current mold.
“I don’t think we can be all things to all customers,” he said. “It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store. I’m always asking myself: If we do that, what is the reason we did it? Why did we include that person? And did we include them to shut up a reporter? Did we include them because it was the right thing to do or because it was the politically correct thing to do?”
And here’s where it gets really gross.
He continued, “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”
So there it is. trans-phobic Razek doesn’t think trans or plus-size women fit into the gross “fantasy” his shows are meant to fulfill, so keep ’em off the runway. Honestly, how is this guy still working in marketing in 2018?
People are predictably calling Victoria’s Secret out for how awful this interview is.
— ᴋᴇᴀᴛ (@doombuggys) November 9, 2018
“We market to who we sell to”— Jasmine 💍 (@Jessameen) November 9, 2018
Which is..women, right? Plus size and transgender women are women so... confused by that. Stopped buying VS years ago and have been giving @Aerie all of my money because what they stand for is amazing.
This is what happens when you have a 70 year old man running a lingerie company.— Maren Messenger (@MarenMess) November 9, 2018
“Our Show is a fantasy... and 90% of you aren’t worthy to participate in it.”— Decervelage (@Decervelage) November 9, 2018
My face while reading this: pic.twitter.com/oYjGBRg89p— Rhiannon (@sextoyspolitics) November 9, 2018
This is incredibly rude considering Valentina Sampaio , a transgender model with more vogue covers than most of the vs models, went to castings this year and didn’t get it, now I know why— No One (@WhoIsMozart) November 9, 2018
We, as an industry, must stop honoring this arcane pageantry and demand that they change. The fact that this show exists the way it does in 2018, is absurd.— Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi) November 10, 2018
If Victoria’s Secret wants a seat at the table in 2018, when more and more women are making a conscious choice to shop inclusive, diverse brands, it’s gonna have to put a hard end to this kind of thinking. And as long as it employs people who think like Razek, it has little chance of recapturing the customers it’s already lost.