The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is an annual runway show that is—of course—sponsored by Victoria’s Secret. The event features VS models strutting the runway in various Victoria’s Secret merchandise—primarily sexy lingerie—and is designed specifically to promote and market Victoria’s Secret lingerie, clothing, sleepwear, and accessory lines as well as the brand’s limited beauty product collections.
The VS Fashion Show is a long-standing, very well-known annual event. Its inaugural show was in 1995, and a VS Fashion Show—or some large promotional event by VS like the Angels Across America tour of 2004—has taken place each year without fail since then. In addition to elaborate themed runway shows featuring extravagant costumed lingerie looks, the VS Fashion Show also features music and performances by current leading artists in the entertainment industry—including Hozier, Kanye West and Jay Z, The Black Eyed Peas, Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child, to name a few. The whole show is an event in and of itself; it’s about a lot more than just models walking down a runway.
As for the models themselves, they’re a big part of the event too. The most recognizable of the models that walk in the VS Fashion Show are the VS Angels. The Angels are a group of high-profile models who are invited to walk on the VS Fashion Show runways each year and have special, exclusive contracts with Victoria’s Secret. They are among some of the highest-paid models in the world. You can distinguish the VS Angels from regular Victoria’s Secret models on the runway by the giant white angel wings they wear with their lingerie. Most of the VS Angels who have earned their wings are famous models with very recognizable names. Past and current high-profile VS Angels include Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bündchen, and Karlie Kloss.
Most of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows have been broadcast on American network television on either CBS or ABC at prime time. Last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show took place on November 8, 2018, and was broadcast on ABC on December 2, 2018. This scheduling left a gap of almost a month between the actual date of the runway show and the time it was available to watch on network TV. During that gap, photos and videos of the VS models and Angels strutting the runway in their carefully crafted costumed lingerie looks surfaced and circulated across the most popular social media platforms. By the time the show was officially broadcast on network television, viewers had mostly lost interest. The 2018 VS Fashion Show’s ratings hit a record low, even considering that the few previous years’ shows had brought in rocky ratings as well.
With those low ratings coupled with the plummeting sales that forced Victoria’s Secret to close more than 50 of their stores in 2018, higher-ups at VS are scrambling to save the brand from bankruptcy at this point. The VS Fashion Show, which used to pull in tons of revenue for the company as their biggest promotional event of the year, may actually be costing VS more money to put on than it brings back into the company throughout the year.
Over the past several years, Victoria’s Secret has been losing a significant amount of sales to rising online-based boutique lingerie retailers—think Adore Me, HauteFlair, Agent Provocateur, and even Amazon. The lingerie industry as a whole is shifting online and becoming more progressive and body-positive, and Victoria’s Secret just hasn’t been able to keep up with and adapt to changing trends and shopping patterns as more lingerie alternatives to victoria’s secret are launching every moment. The company came under fire in late 2018 by making discriminatory comments regarding their hypothetical acceptance—or lack thereof—of transgender models walking at their Fashion Show. Although VS later officially revoked these insensitive comments, the damage to the brand’s reputation was already done.
In May of 2019, Victoria’s Secret officially announced that the annual VS Fashion Show would not be broadcast on American network television as expected in 2019. The company made some statements about how network television was not the right fit for their famous long-standing promotional event any longer and that they were looking forward to exploring other options for a new kind of event in the future.
Over all, no details were really mentioned and fans of the VS Fashion Show were left wondering whether the company’s shift in plans has more to do with their financial struggles and plummeting sales as of late or if they really do have something more exciting up their sleeve. If Victoria’s Secret does have a solid plan for the future of the VS Fashion Show, hopefully they’ve learned from their mistakes and made more of an effort to adapt to the increasing progressiveness of the modern lingerie industry.
As the months go by and no more official announcements have been released, only time will tell the future of VS’s biggest promotional event of the year—but it seems pretty certain at this point that 2018 may have marked the end of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as loyal viewers know it.