L Brands sells the majority of Victoria’s Secret as brand struggles

Courtesy+of+Wikimedia+Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Salazar

Victoria’s Secret is being sold, in part, to a private equity firm after the chain has been suffering in recent years, due to controversies relating to misogyny and Jeffrey Epstein.

A 55% share of the lingerie chain is being sold to Sycamore Partners with Victoria’s Secret’s current parent company, L Brands, set to retain ownership of the remaining 45% .

This transfer is meant to help the chain, which has been struggling as a result of lacking inclusivity in their advertising, marketing and hiring.

Despite being a women’s lingerie store and L Brands owning mainly all female-targeted stores, the upper management of the companies have all been largely male. 

Female executives who pushed new ideas of management for the company were apparently fired or forced to resign, according to reporting from The New York Times. 

Beyond potentially sexist hiring practice, the brand has been highly criticized in the past few years for its brand’s marketing.

Victoria’s Secret models, called “Angels,” all have one thing in common — they’re extremely thin.

As body positivity and inclusivity have become increasingly popular, some brands and stores have begun employing models with different body types, including larger-sized people, in their advertisements and catalogues.

Victoria’s Secret is not one of these brands.

The brand’s lack of larger-sized models sparked controversy, especially in relation to the chain’s popular annual fashion show, which was not diverse in body type or even race, as many of the models are white.

Even further controversy came from the brand’s refusal to hire male to female transgender models, including at the fashion show.

After these issues have occurred been reported on by multiple news outlets — if not as a result of these issues — Victoria’s Secret will now be managed by the Sycamore Partners.

In addition to the retail giant being sold, Leslie Wexner, the CEO and chairman of L Brands, is retiring after running the company for around six decades as a chairman emeritus , or a chairperson in good standing .

He started the company after opening his own clothing store, the Limited, in 1963 at the age of 26 which ended up doing well and is what the “L” in L Brands stands for .

The now 82-year-old went on to acquire several other clothing and houseware brands, including Henri Bendel, Express, Abercrombie & Fitch and Lane Bryant. He formed the chains the Limited Too, PINK and Bath & Body Works as part of L Brands, as well.

“We believe that, as a private company, Victoria’s Secret will be better able to focus on longer-term results,” Wexner said in a press release. 

“We are pleased that, by retaining a significant ownership stake, our shareholders will have the ability to meaningfully participate in the upside potential of these iconic brands,” press release continued.

Wexner will no longer be able to directly affect L Brands or Victoria’s Secret, but he will likely have some ability to influence or advise L Brands’ future.

Another controversy related to L Brands and Victoria’s Secret concerns Wexner himself and not how the company operates.

Wexner was a long-time friend of Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was convicted of rape and sex
trafficking and who died of suicide in his jail cell last year. 

This connection hurt the brand’s and Wexner’s image further, despite his assertion that he and his wife, Abigail Wexner, cut ties with Epstein in 2007, after the first allegations against the deceased came out.

“Being taken advantage of by someone who is…so depraved is something I’m embarrassed I’m even close to,” Wexner was quoted as saying in an article from NBC News. 

“In the present, everyone has to feel enormous regret for the advantage that was taken of so many young women.”