Service of a Once Iconic Brand That’s Lost Its Sex Appeal

November 29th, 2018

Categories: Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Marketing, Trends

A childhood neighbor used to tell me “You have to suffer to be beautiful.” In the day she was right. Women slept on giant rollers while now dryers whip hair styles into shape in minutes and fashions are also more relaxed. We’d never have dreamed of wearing sneakers or flip flops for any reason other than for gym class or to walk on the beach. Now both are the uniform of many in towns, cities and airports.

With obvious exceptions—facelifts for example which I’m told are very painful and make deep dents in pocketbooks too–comfort over vanity seems to have won in many of the best places. “Why Smart, Chic Women Are Abandoning High Heels [Forever],” wrote Chloe Malle recently in The Wall Street Journal.

Victoria’s Secret’s drooping bra business is the main reason L Brands’ stock is down 41 percent this year according to Elizabeth Winkler in the same paper. Bras represent 35 percent of their sales she reported. Customers are looking to the competition for “comfort and ease, not airbrushed fantasy,” she wrote. “In July, Victoria’s Secret’s semiannual sale was so weak the retailer was forced to extend it by two weeks and offer steeper discounts, leading analysts to declare the brand broken.

“Instead of $60 padded bras that sell male fantasies, women are opting for cheaper undergarments that prioritize their own comfort. Victoria’s Secret has tried to adapt with the times, ending its catalog, doubling down on sports bras and even releasing a collection of ‘bralettes’—bras without underwire and padding.”

Competition features different body types in its ads as compared to the Victoria’s Secret “traditional sex-infused marketing,” they wrote.

I wonder if the new team will adjust this image. The Christmas direct mail piece that landed in mailboxes this week [photos right and below left] featured the old Victoria’s Secret image and none of the sports bras and bralettes they claimed to have adopted. Clearly designed to inspire men to buy gifts and enjoy, it nevertheless ignored the reasons for the downturn in sales.

In a subsequent article in The Journal, Khadeeja Safdar and Maria Armental reported on additional moves the brand is taking to regain its momentum from adding a Tory Burch veteran/former president to run the lingerie division to halving its dividend.

Are you surprised that Victoria’s Secret was knocked off its pedestal in part by the drive for comfort? Do you shun uncomfortable clothes and shoes? Are you surprised by the trends for fashion conscious women identified by Journal reporters regarding flats over stilettos and less challenging underwear? Do you miss the formal days of yore?


13 Responses to “Service of a Once Iconic Brand That’s Lost Its Sex Appeal”

  1. David Reich Said:

    I was never a big fan of Victoria’s Secret. Their stuff never fit me properly.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What to say other than “Haw, Haw!”

  3. Dawn Deluca Said:

    Dawn wrote on Facebook: Comfort comes first… But style must be there as well. The days of being tortured have been long gone for me… And believe me as a plus size woman the torture was very much present!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree! Style without torture has been my mantra for many years. Grooming is essential too. You are one of the most photogenic people I know so you could probably wear a sheet and look smart.

  5. Protius Said:

    Does Donald Trump have something to do with this?

    Clearly the war between the sexes is heating up. The accelerating decline in marriage and birth rates, and the increasing acceptance of gay alternatives to traditional lifestyles make it apparent that many modern American women no longer view marriage and catching the right man as the best way to live their lives. Consequently they no longer feel the need to dress to catch a man’s eye.

    Why not ask all those ladies who just got elected to congress in part because of Trump whether they wear Victoria’s Secret underwear? I’ll bet they don’t.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    While you ask a good question at the end–we’ll never know the answer–I quibble over the concept of dressing to please a man to entice him into marriage. I like to look my best all the time and on bad days I can’t look at a mirror–that’s just me.

    If someone likes me, they’ll like a person for whom feeling comfortable is important and being trussed up like a goose going to slaughter in ill-fitting underwear isn’t in the cards. That doesn’t mean looking like a slob is appropriate either, though I love to wear t-shirts and khakis or jeans on weekends.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Phyllis wrote on Facebook: Anybody remember when their stores were like intimate British shops? They played classical music, & it was all dark & quiet?

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My answer is immaterial as I wasn’t a devotee and didn’t go in the store. I own one atypical Victoria’s Secret item bought from the catalog many years ago: a white cotton nightgown!

  9. EAM Said:

    Erica wrote on Facebook: Comfort is esp. Important regarding underclothes and shoes.

  10. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Most people cannot & will not see your expensive undies they will see your shoes boots & handbags

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Erica: Always true! If you walk all day in painful shoes you’ll arrive home with a super headache.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It’s cold out so we don’t see underwear worn as clothing as we do in summer but I am amazed at what some women wear on the street! That said, I can’t ID the brand!

  13. Dhanya Hemanth Raj Said:

    Very nice article, Jeanne

Leave a Reply