The show will not go on, not this year anyway. Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brands has confirmed the annual, Angel-filled runway presentation will be suspended this year, the first time since the show made its debut in 1994. Rumors the show would be shut down were started by frequent Angel Shanina Shaik, who in August said the 2019 show was a no go.
In a statement, L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer stated, “We think it’s important to evolve the messaging of Victoria’s Secret. We will be communicating to customers but nothing similar in magnitude to the fashion show. We will communicate to customers through lots of vehicles including social media and other channels.”
The decision to suspend the show and invest in different types of marketing might not be a bad one. Last year, Victoria’s Secret Fashion posted its lowing ratings ever pulling a measly 3.3 million viewers, a 50-percent decline versus the 2016 show. And the show is not a cheap one. According to Wikipedia, the 2017 event had a budget of $26.4 million
It’s been a rough year for Victoria’s Secret, a company that’s been hurt from a decline in mall traffic and a growth in competition whose been able to peel of customers from the lingerie giant through on-trend merchandise and marketing campaigns that resonate with the target customer. While Everyone points at Rihanna‘s Fenty X Savage, Victoria’s Secret has likely lost more customers to American Eagle‘s body-positive Aerie, PVH Corp.’s Calvin Klein and ThirdLove.
Part of the company’s issues stem from stodgy leadership as epitomized by former Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek , who sent public perception of the company into a spiral when in an interview with Vogue just prior to the 2018 show he flatly declared the company would never cast a trans model because the show is a fantasy. Razek stepped down from the role less than a year later.
There have been signs of some change. Victoria Secret’s through its Pink label featured its first trans model and in September it announced a partnership with women-owned, Los Angeles-based lingerie label For Love & Lemons, a collaborative move in line modern merchandise and marketing practices. Notably, the company has scrubbed all pre-July 2019 images from its Instagram feed.
It’s hard to imagine the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will never be staged again, though it will probably be on pause while the company figures out how to stem losses (same-store sales in its most recent earnings report were down seven percent) and reconnect with a younger customer. If and when it reemerges, it’s sure to be a very toned down version of the giant productions of year’s past along with a almost entirely transformed cast.