What Happened to the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?
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What Happened to the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?

Will this year's VSFS viewership return to 2014 numbers?

Victoria's Secret has had a tumultuous year. Slow to pivot into the bralette trend that's been taking over intimate apparel and even slower to take advantage of the industry's shift towards more natural styling and models, VS had been forced into the unenviable position of playing catch-up. This year, the company dropped their catalog and swim divisions and relaunched their athleisure collections, but sales have remained low, especially compared to previous years. Still, Victoria's Secret accounts for around 60% of the U.S. lingerie market, which means the brand isn't about to die anytime soon. It also means news about Victoria's Secret is news about the majority of the American lingerie industry, by default.

Usually around this time of year, VS is ramping up their PR machine for their much-anticipated annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. In the weeks leading up to the airing of the show, there's a near-endless stream of press (read: fluff) pieces about Victoria's Secret, from their brand story, to the Angels, to the Angels workout routines to literally everything else about the company. The media is seized with a type VS fever, and even outlets that are normally critical of mainstream fashion have a surprisingly light touch when it comes to Victoria's Secret (I've often wondered if media outlets are less critical of the brand in the hopes of securing a ticket to the show). It's a mind-boggling amount of publicity, much of it free, and it illustrates just how synonymous the name "Victoria's Secret" is with lingerie in the United States.

Yet this year, everyone's been surprisingly silent about the show. There's been no news regarding an official taping date, airing date, model roster, or even the location (though WWD reported the show will be in Paris this year, there's been no official confirmation of this from L Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent company). Even the Fantasy Bra, VS' flagship marketing trifle, has been notably invisible. I'm writing this article halfway through October, and the complete absence of any and all announcements is startling when you compare the news from previous years.

For example, for the 2015 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the location of the show was announced in May, the airdate in September, and the full lineup of models and musical guests by mid-October.  In 2014, the show location announcement was made even earlier, in April (this is also the year the show was held in London), and the airdate was once again announced in September. To be two weeks away from November with no official press whatsoever is highly unusual. Why is VS being so quiet?

Last year, viewership of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show dropped by nearly a third, the second consecutive year of decline (though admittedly, the drop between 2013 and 2014 was significantly smaller). It's also true that TV viewing habits have undergone a massive shift since 2001, the year the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show had its highest number of viewers, with nearly 12.4 million people tuning in. Many households, especially in that 18-49 year old key demographic, no longer rely on network television. With no alternative ways of viewing the show, such as YouTube streaming, people may be choosing to watch something else instead.

Victoria's Secret's own hyper marketing strategy may also have come back to bite them. The show is usually filmed about a month before it airs. Yet, in those intervening weeks, all the looks from the show are released to the media, and the show is written about extensively on most every major fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle website. There's no curiosity left by the time the actual airdate arrives; all the mystery was stripped away weeks before. Victoria's Secret may be a victim of its own marketing machine and proof that there is such a thing as too much publicity.

While I don't yet think the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is canceled, I do wonder if the delay means a change in format is coming. The era of the supermodel VS Angels is coming to an end. Consumers have shown they want more relatable, accessible marketing, and Victoria's Secret's derivative, near-identical campaigns have become lost in the press onslaught from brands like Lane Bryant, Aerie, and even Lonely.

In fashion, novelty is everything. There's a constant search for the new, the cool, the next big thing. Unwieldy, dated and slow to change, Victoria's Secret may be showing their age as a company. While VS is in no danger of losing their place at the top of the lingerie hierarchy anytime soon, the brand has undeniably its luster. Perhaps a bit of self-reflection is finally in order.


Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

11 Comments on this post

  1. cassandra says:

    The show is definitely going on. But it has lost the allure. I was too young to be wearing VS back when Tyra and Gisele were the Angels. Even as a woman in her early 20’s, VS’ prime demographic, I find the models to look very immature. They have shifted to only one body type, which is more of a couture model body type. There’s something about the models like Tyra, Laetitia and Claudia that was so romantic, artistic and womanly and yet they’re all very different.
    It no longer looks magical. It kind of looks like watching instagram on TV.

    • Rebeccabeeswax says:

      YES!!! I’ve been looking at the models in the pictures and the models are a lot different looking then when I looked at the vs magazines from the early 90s. Very teen like!

  2. Lillian says:

    At 20 years old and a size 32 DDD, I have never liked VS bras. They have always seemed to be poorly made with cheap materials and offer me no support. My dislike for the product has lead to a my huge disdain for the band as a whole, especially given their overtly sexual marketing.

  3. Gary says:

    Good column. Won’t speculate why they’ve been so quiet, but clearly there’s a new format or strategy in the works. As a guy, I always enjoy the show, including the musical performances (and especially the finale) One question: since when did garter belt WITHOUT attached stockings become a thing? You see it quite often during the show. I wouldn’t say it looks trashy, but it’s like a bald man with a bottle of shampoo, there’s just no need.

    • Mina says:

      I agree, it looks sloppy without stockings, but I imagine it’s a matter of practicality. Most shows have models walking multiple times, which means quick changes and stockings are quite fussy. The more rushed you are, the more they refuse to behave. :p

  4. Lauriana says:

    This is completely irrelevant to the lingerie brand, but in my native language, Dutch (and also in German), “US” is written as “VS” because our word for “United” starts with a V. That coincidence makes reading this article a bit odd and results in Victoria’s Secret seeming very synonymous with the whole of the US lingerie market ;)

    • Victoria says:

      ??? In Germany most people say USA and not US or VS. But recently I mentioned that Hunkemöller Imitates VS a lot. Even the bags and the bras look almost the same! And now they’ve got Doutzen, too! :D

      I loved VS for many years, but now I can’t relate to the brand anymore. Too many Angels, most of them not even bombshells und soooo young. Like they’re focusing on teenagers. And very skinny. Aerie goes with the body-positivity-trend which obviously works, but the VS models get even skinnier and they finally lost me last year when Kendall Jenner walked (!) and on top they showed her family. If I wanna see the Kardashians I watch their Show! :(

  5. Mo says:

    While I’m not a fan of VS lingerie, this is really sad to hear. In 2013 I worked for a studio that built wings for VS, both for display and for the fashion show. Hundreds of skilled artisans and stagehands worked tirelessly to stage and film the annual show, it employed me for more than 6 months out of the year. By this time of the year, we were starting to do final fittings and the soundstage was being completed. I have really fond memories of spending days and days putting more than 5 lbs of Swarovski rhinestones on a single pair of wings, and buying every single AAA-quality white ostrich feather available in NYC. Truly one of the best gigs I ever had.

    If they have massively scaled down the fashion show, it could honestly mean that some of the most talented craftspeople I’ve ever met are permanently out of work, and dozens of stagehands will be scrambling to find gigs to fill their schedule until Thanksgiving. If they end up nixing the fashion show althogether, the economic impact for the NYC theatre world can not be understated.

  6. rings90 says:

    I worked for VS in the mid 90’s. It was one of the last little boutique type stores left. Glass doors, soft lighting, Victorian wallpaper and paintings, little stools in the fitting room (I do have2 of those that need to be refinished) white fixtures, silk slips & robes, and just big enough to see the whole shop from the doorway. The stores would even play the fashion show on a little TV for the shoppers, of course this was the first year they introduced the wish list & the first diamond bra.

    Then they introduced the Angels and decided to become mainstream and changed its decor to 1980’s hot pink, with white stripes and gold hearts and started catering more to the trendy and younger shoppers. The last time I walked by the store in our mall it looks like they’ve added black lacquer into the mix & it still wasn’t bringing in shoppers.

    I agree they have become their own worst enemy when it comes marketing and that has hurt them greatly.

  7. Laurence Levit says:

    When I go into a VS store I am amazed at how the store looks so boring The styles are not cutting edge and it seems the stores tilt more towards PINK and fragances I harken back to the days when the guy from SF owned the stores

    • Rebeccasbee09 says:

      I don’t think that’s entirely fair; I had to return something to VS last week and I was very surprised with the new look of their Christmas line and how similar it was to what I see on LA from the smaller more conture, more expensive retailers. The green and gold lace fabric was very pretty. It’s hardly the artistry you see from la perla or agent provocateur but definitely more original and interesting then what the average American is used to seeing from the most common lingerie brand in America.
      I think it’s very easy to hate on a corporate behemoth like VS and to avoid the inevitable backlash that won that weirdo the election it’s important to keep the automatic distain of a common institution constrained. It’s now the easy PR refrain for businesses to paint honest criticism as elite snobbery. ” oh, coastal elites don’t like our good, old fashioned VS booby covers, they aint good enough for them! They want fancy, foreign, communist booby covers that are 150 bucks per booby!!!”
      Remember, we just took a major step back politically for all but the super rich. Let’s encourage progress we’re we see it instead of just hating it for its name. That’s what they do.

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