The rise and fall of Victoria’s Secret, America’s biggest lingerie retailer

By Mary Hanbury (

The rise and fall of Victoria’s Secret, America’s biggest lingerie retailer

Victoria’s Secret the largest American retailer of women’s lingerie.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the US who hasn’t come into contact with Victoria’s Secret in one way or another. Since the late 1990s, Victoria’s Secret has been one of the best-known and most talked-about brands in the country — increasingly, not in ways that it might hope for. 

But it has had a powerful role in defining what sexy is in the modern day via its racy lingerie and annual runway shows and in its heyday, these enabled the company to achieve blockbuster sales and reach global status.

Increasingly, the tide seems to be turning. Sales have slipped, customers are complaining that quality has dropped, and analysts are becoming more skeptical about the brand’s future if it refuses to adapt in the era of #MeToo.

In the summer of 2019, the company faced a new challenge after it was caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal; Epstein previously managed the money of L Brands CEO and founder Les Wexner and the two were reportedly once close friends. Epstein even reportedly tried to meddle in Victoria’s Secret’s business, offering input on which women should be models and allegedly using his connection to Victoria’s Secret to coerce them into sexual acts.

On January 29, The Wall Street Journal reported that Wexner, the longest-serving CEO of any Fortune 500 company, was in talks to step down from the company after more than 50 years at the helm. Moreover, sources familiar with the matter told The Journal that Wexner was considering selling Victoria’s Secret. 

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