Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Victoria's Secret: The Song and the Business
Posting something light tonight . . . .
I have found myself fascinated listening to Jax's recent hit "Victoria's Secret," a clever pop ballad about female body image concerns and intimates retailer Victoria's Secret. The refrain is catchy and, itself, tells a story--a business story.
I know Victoria's secret
And, girl, you wouldn't believe
She's an old man who lives in Ohio
Making money off of girls like me"
Cashin' in on body issues
Sellin' skin and bones with big boobs
I know Victoria's secret
She was made up by a dude (dude)
Victoria was made up by a dude (dude)
Victoria was made up by a dude
Because I knew some of the history of the Victoria's Secret business, I understood that the allusion to the "old man who lives in Ohio"--the "dude"--is a reference to Leslie Wexner, the founder of L Brands (earlier famous for owning major brands like The Limited, Express, and Abercrombie & Fitch, as well as Victoria's Secret). Victoria's Secret became an independent publicly traded firm, Victoria's Secret & Co., last year through a tax-free spin-off from L Brands (now known as Bath & Body Works, Inc.). From the Victoria's Secret & Co. website:
On August 3, 2021, L Brands (NYSE: LB) completed the separation of the Victoria’s Secret business into an independent, public company through a tax-free spin-off to L Brands shareholders. The new company, named Victoria’s Secret & Co., includes Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, PINK and Victoria’s Secret Beauty. Victoria’s Secret & Co. is a NYSE listed company trading under the ticker symbol VSCO.
In conjunction with this announcement, L Brands changed its name to Bath & Body Works, Inc. and now trades under the ticker symbol BBWI.
According to (among other sources) a Newsweek piece from last summer, Wexner did not found Victoria's Secret. He bought it in 1982 from the founder. However, he did elevate the brand to cult status and financial success. So, one might say that he did "make up" Victoria (as she is conceptualized in the song's lyrics).
Having said that, it also seems fair to note that Ed Razek, long-time L Brands chief marketing officer, is credited (in that same Newsweek article) with overseeing the iconic Victoria's Secret fashion shows that ran from 1995 to 2018. In the minds of many, these fashion shows created--or at least popularized--the image of the Victoria in Jax's lyrics ("skin and bones with big boobs").
Victoria's Secret & Co. has been working to change its image. Its website includes value statements consistent with greater inclusion and features some photos of nontraditional intimates models--models that are not reflective of the Victoria described in the "Victoria's Secret" song lyrics. Moreover, the Victoria's Secret & Co. CEO reportedly reached out to Jax to thank her for highlighting body image issues through her song.
With the craziness of current business stories, grading, and the holiday season, this post is designed to offer some amusement (if not educational value). I have endeavored to ensure that BLPB readers now know Victoria's Secret--the company--a bit better. I also hope you enjoy the Jax song and appreciate its encouragement of positive body image.