Victoria’s Secret is undergoing a major rebranding effort after more than four decades of being known as the sexiest intimates apparel manufacturer. The company long known for its Angels is ditching the tried-and-true lineup of sexy models to instead champion and inspire all women.
And no one could be more excited than supermodel Tyra Banks.
Banks has been one of the most prominent Black faces in the modeling world since her days of strutting down catwalks in Milan and for New York Fashion Week during the early ’90s. The 5-foot-10 stunner turned even more heads when she became the first Black model to sign a contract with Victoria’s Secret in 1997. The opportunity catapulted Banks to new levels of success as she graced the brand’s catalog and went on to become the first Black model to join the ranks of the Victoria’s Secret Angels.
While Banks’ career is filled with a slew of other firsts as a Black model, she believes the turning of tables is long overdue.
“First is hard. First is lonely. But first is necessary. First is crucial so that a door can be opened for others to fit through,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Within a 10 year span starting in 1995, I was the first Black @VictoriasSecret contract model ever. The first Black Victoria’s Secret Cover model. The first Black VS model to do so many other groundbreaking things with the brand – as well as other brands. But after a first, must come a flow of more.”
That “flow of more” looks like Victoria’s Secret enlisting brand ambassadors for its VS Collective. “At Victoria’s Secret, we are on an incredible journey to become the world’s leading advocate for women,” said Martin Waters, the Victoria’s Secret CEO. “This is a dramatic shift for our brand, and it’s a shift that we embrace from our core. These new initiatives are just the beginning. We are energized and humbled by the work ahead of us.”
The goal of the VS Collective is to “build new, deeper relationships with all women” and transform how the brand represents women. To pull off the feat of rebranding, a group of women offering different cultural backgrounds and perspectives was chosen to give shape to future collections and initiatives.
- Adut Akech – Refugee, Mental Wellness Supporter, Model
- Amanda de Cadenet – Journalist, Photographer, GirlGaze Founder & Equality Advocate
- Eileen Gu – World Champion Free Skier, Youth & Women’s Sports Advocate, Model
- Megan Rapinoe – LGBTQIA+ Activist, Pay Equity Crusader, Professional Soccer Player
- Paloma Elsesser – Body Advocate, Community Creator, Model
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas – Actor, Producer, Entrepreneur
- Valentina Sampaio – LGBTQIA+ Activist, Actor, Model
As far as Banks is concerned, these women and the rebranding effort are creating the flow of different and unique perspectives and representation of beauty needed to reflect society.
“A flow so strong, a flow of so many that we LOSE COUNT. I retired from the runway 16 years ago – and I’m proud that in my lifetime, I’m witnessing a beauty revolution,” continued Banks’ post. “To the new collective of badass ROLE models, I may have cracked that door open, but y’all are charging through. Keep on keepin’ on until we all LOSE COUNT of how many are breaking through behind you. 💪🏽💛 #LetsLoseCount”
On social, the reaction to Banks’ post was met with applause.
“Grateful you paved the way!! We will continue to break boundaries. ♥️💪🏾”
“Yesss thank you Tyra for breaking barriers!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾”
Elsewhere on social critics are split in saying the company missed the mark with its goal of rebranding.
The second brand effort to better champion for women includes the launch of The VS Global Fund for Women’s Cancers. The company says it will “award at least $5 million annually to examine and address racial and gender inequities and unlock new innovations that improve cancer outcomes for all women.”