Victoria’s Secret — Assorting Heterogeneity

Graphic by Banani

In July 2021, Victoria’s Secret introduced a new ensemble of “angels.” They include American athlete Megan Rapinoe, actress and activist Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Vanetina Sampaio, the brand’s first transgender model. They allude to a significantly more variegated vision of beauty than was previously customary for the once-popular corporation. Victoria’s Secret learnt a lesson that other top fashion firms and the industry as a whole are learning that diversity sells.

Victoria’s Secret wondered as to why the other well-known fashion brands jumped into diversity measure so abruptly. So, they concentrated on disability since it is usually viewed as incompatible with fashion. The industry saw people with impairments as unable to express, reflect, or transmit beauty. In other words, impairment would deter customers.

Over a five-year period, Victoria’s Secret examined three big fashion magazines – Vogue, InStyle, and Harper’s Bazaar – and found not a single person with a handicap on the cover. A search of 2,500 adverts on InStyle yielded similar results. So they looked to recent and well-known advertisements by Nike, Aerie, and Tommy Hilfiger. These famous brands featured a varied cast of models, including individuals with visible and non-visible impairments.

It was discovered after research that editorials frequently reinforced differences between “ability” and “disability,” implying that impairment is something that must be overcome. For example, when athletes were praised for exceeding their disability’s limits. In several cases, no photographs of disabled persons were published in editorials concerning them. When models with impairments were included, they were frequently dismissed as being too ordinary to wear labels mentioned by the magazine’s editorial staff.

They examined over 200 online consumer comments regarding Teen Vogue’s “The New Faces of Fashion” campaign. Teen Vogue featured three disabled models: Chelsea Werner, Mama Cax, and Jillian Mercado and they discovered that the vast majority of customers praised and admired that.

One viewer even expressed gratitude to Teen Vogue for “making fantastic adjustments.” “Let’s see this on a regular basis, please,” said another, wanting to be included. Dove Beauty and Allure both left comments on the magazine’s Instagram page.

In response to Allure’s appreciation, one viewer urged the publication to “join the Inclusion Revolution as well.” Soon after, Allure launched its own series on “the beauty of accessibility,” including Ellie Goldstein, a young model with Down syndrome, on the cover of their digital print magazine.

Away from social media, and after more than a year in lockdown, the fashion industry is prepared for a relaunch.Couturiers such as Dior and Chanel have gathered in Paris for the fashion industry’s first in-person exhibitions since the pandemic began. As Victoria’s Secret and others begin to reimagine the world that will be, we wonder what the “inclusion revolution” will look like, recently they included 24-year-old model Sofia Jirau in one of its campaigns, making her the first person with Down syndrome to be featured. According to a recent press release, the Puerto Rican model is one of 17 different women representing Victoria’s Secret’s ‘Love Cloud’ collection, which the lingerie firm hopes will “reinforce(e) Victoria’s Secret’s commitment to welcoming and celebrating all women.” In the last year, the company has made inclusivity a fundamental priority, introducing a new roster of ambassadors in June 2021 which also includes model Adut Akech.

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