At the time of writing this the 2018 Victoria's Secret show hasn't even aired yet, but already it is facing a huge backlash due to lack of diversity on the runway and because of comments made by the CEO in an invterview, basically stating he had no interest in diversifying the fantasy that is the Victoria's Secret Brand.

At least two employeed have quit, the CEO has resigned, and social media has gone mad.

I think this has been a long time coming for a brand that, up till now, has relied on it's old marketing model and has refused to modernise. With recent changes in mainstream fashion and media people crave diversity from big brands more than ever, and I'm glad that more people are finally talking about the diversity problem in the fashion industry. But Victoria's Secret is one of many brands who have had this problem, and many others for a long time, and they're been on my boycott list for a while. Not just for their marketing and lack of diversity but also for their sweat shop manufacturing style and complete lack of care for the environment.

Inspired by the backlash, and previously by Hoda Katebi - owner of Joo Joo Azad-'s posts talking about VS in the past I've decided to write a list of just why I boycott Victoria's Secret, and why you may want to too.

1. Fatphobia
Victoria's secret have never made clothes for women over a certain size, even as someone who is a relatively small UK size 10 and large chested, I've never been part of their target market. I've owned a few of their bras in the past and they've all either not held my boobs in bras at all or have fallen apart from the strain of keeping my boobs in; you know, defeating the whole purpose of a bra.

But sizing isn't their main problem, in an interview for Vogue a couple of weeks ago their cheif creative director, Ed Razek, talked about how he had no interest in marketing to plus size women now or in the future. He stated that their brand Lane Bryannt is made for plus size women, and basically plus size women should go there and be happy with it. I'd never heard of this VS sister brand before, and from looking on their website I still won't be shopping there as their gorgeous plus size girls are very clearly photoshopped into oblivion, there's no rolls in sight and so many smooth tummies, like come on? Really?

Cheif Creative Director Ed Razek sees no problem in not including everyone in VS, that's good branding apparently. Well I can tell you now that as one of the biggest lingerie brands in the world, saying you have no interest in marketing to over half of the female population because they don't "fit into" your "fantasy" (his words not mine) then that's a pretty bad marketing stratergy in the current state of the fast fashion industry.

In this interview with Vogue Razek seemed to want praise for including size 2 models in their early days, back when they were considered "too fat" to be runway models, so diverse! Newsflash, things have changes a lot since then. And accusing Rihanna of copying your ideas by having pregnant women on the runway for her Savage X Fenty launch because he did that first, despire the fect none of the models he's had on the runway have been visibly pregnant, was probably not a wise move either. The reason why Rihanna's brand is doing so well right not is because she is championing diversity and people are loving it.

2. Transphobia
Along with saying plus size women don't fit into the VS fantazy ex CEO Les Wexner also went on to say (talking about comments he's had in the past): "shouldn't you have transexuals in the show? No. No I don't think we should... Well why not? Because this show is a fantasy. A 42 minute enetertainment special. That's what it is." So trans women can't be part of VS's fantasy, even if they fit into the incredibly narrow ideas of beauty that VS have, they're still not good enough, they're still worth less than his cis models. Yikes.

Many trans women took to twitter after this comment and said they used to dream of wearing VS's underwear when they transitioned to help them feel sexy and beautiful, but now their fantasy has been crushes. 

Since this interview Ed Razek has come forward and apologised through a picture on twitter saying that VS would absolutely cast trans models, but this seems a lot like damage control from a man who's company's sales are falling. If he really believed they should cast trans women would he have made this comment in the first place?

If you'd like to support companies who do actively support trans people then there Teen Vogue made a : List of transgender-friendly lingerie brand to support


3. Lack of Racial Diversity

Mainstream fashion has always had a habit for only celebrating white women's beauty and putting European beauty standards on a pedestal, and Victoria's Secret is no exception.

In the same Vogue interview I mentioned earlier Erika Mitro - head of public relations at VS- said that it was a "huge headline" that they told women to wear their hair natural on the runway years before. And this year's show is more diverse than ever, with over 50% of their models being non white, but visibly non white is another story. Only a few of this year's models were dark skinned and most had facial features that fit eurocentric beauty standards. There is definitely a mould for Victoria's Secret models, it's eurocentric, and many people still don't think it's good enough. It's not just about having different ethnicities on a piece of paper, when most of your models still fit into the same beauty standards, it's about visibly racially diverse models with different facial features. But I guess that doesn't fit into their fantasy either.

And I really think it's another example of a brand being "inclusive" to gain media attention and sales because if they were genuinely trying to be diverse and inclusive they'd have done a much better job of it. If their standards start of low they can keep making headlines each year for this year being the "most diverse yet".

You only have to go to the front page of their website to see that their models basially all have the same facial features and a few different skin colours. That's not real diversity. Even sticking to the "most beautiful women in the world" and their insane body requirements there's room for a lot more diversity currently gives.

Victoria's secret market themselves as "the sexiest" lingerie, but you're not allowed to be a part of that if you don't fit into their narrow fantasy. Great. Wonderful. They're the most watched runway show of the year, little kids are looking up to these models and being shown that this is the only image of sexy and beautiful to aspire to be, I mean the whole world loves them. I can't get behind that. Yes the Victoria's Secret models are all gorgeous, but they shouldn't be the only option, beauty is diverse.

But that's not my main reason for boycotting VS, and I know that many people don't have a problem with VS selling a fantasy, they're not trying to represent everyone. But even if you do buy into that fantasy I hope you don't also buy into their human right's violations, animal rights abuses, and unsustainable environmental policies.

4. Ethical Issues
Back in 2015 VS made headlines for the appalling working conditions in their factories, and child labour allegations in their cotton suppliers. But since then everyone seems to have forgotten about it, glazed of it, distracted by bras and Swarovski crystals, but there's really no evidence to suggest these policies have changed.

In reports from factories that included ones used by VS it was reported that many of these factory workers didn't have proper contracts, didn't get sick pay, were subject to sexual abuse and intimidation, and worked 100+ hour weeks in many cases. (1)  They also use prison labour in the US to make their lingerie for as little as 23 cent an hour (2)

VS scored a D+ on Baptist word aid Ethical Fashion Score, with an F for worker empowerment. A 4.5/20 from Ethical Consumer,  and  a rating of "Not Good enough" from Good on You.

Victoria's secret also use an awful lot of cotton in their products, supposedly fair trade cotton, which is an industry that has been shown to be rampant with child labour, even in the United States. (3)


There have also been calls to boycott VS since 2009 for it's involvement in Israel, using textile factories there to manufacture a large portion of its products (4) as well as having a headquaters on land taken from Palestine (5). This is an awful lot of shady business don't you think?

As well as human rights violations three years ago VS went back on their policy to never test on animals after starting to sell in china, currently its biggest growing market.

Now this is all pretty old news, but there's no evidence to suggest that VS have changed their ways, they're not transparent, and that usually means a brand is hiding something.

If you want alternatives Good On You made a post of 6 Ethical Lingeriae Alernatives to Victoria's Secret.

5. Environmentalism

There isn't much to say on this, because Victoria's Secret haven't given any information on their current environmental policies or impact. But being one of the biggest brands out there, and looking at the environmental impact of fast fashion as a whole, they're probably not doing well. A lack of transparency from a brand is usually not a good sign. If your supply chain is sustainable, there's no reason to keep it secret and they'd probably be shouting it from the heavens for the publicity.

They achieved a ranking of E from Rank-A Brand, the lowest possible score, due to communicating nothing concrete. So who knows what they're doing, but based on their other practices it probably isn't good.

And that's at least 5 reasons not to support VS and it's shady practices. If you're leaving this post feeling some kind of outrage, good. It's sad to say that Victoria's secret are in no way an exception in terms of brands with similar policies, they're just one of the biggest names. My advice to make VS change? Stop supporting them, and other brand like them. Support brands using diverse models, who are dedicated to ethical manufacturing processes, and who are transparent about their environmental impact too. You get to vote with your wallets.

Now I have a feeling that VS are going to try and diversify in the future, especially as sales are currently dropping, but don't be fooled by this. Until they decide to start treating their workers like human beings and start to curb their environmental impact they will remain on my boycott list.


Sources 
(3) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-12-15/victoria-s-secret-revealed-in-child-picking-burkina-faso-cotton 
(4) http://www.quitpalestine.org/actions/victoria/whoseunder.htm