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Roy opened Victoria Secret’s first store in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Califronia

The first ever panties were worn by Roman women and were called Subligaculum. After the fall of Roman Empire, women usually did not use panties. Panties were replaced by long linen cloth named shift,worn under the dress. Further changes occurred in women’s underwear in modern times as they were given an inverted form and were called drawers. The 19th century’s panties were similar to what we now call the boxers,reaching below the knee. The roots of Bra dates as far as ancient Greece where women wrapped up a band of linen or wool around their breasts. Then came metal corsets and later a piece of cloth covering the boobs which we now call bra. Let us take you to the tour of Victoria’s Secret a 20th century company which revolutionised the modern women undergarments and made women fall in love with their valuable assets.

An Embarrassment lingering the world!

Roy Raymond was the man who revolutionised or lets say eroticised the lingerie market. A Stanford MBA graduate,he felt mortified every time he was to step inside a lingerie store with his wife. All the saleswomen gave him the ‘ You pervert!’ look. Understanding this to be the similar situation of his guy friends, he began analyzing the lingerie market. And it was after eight years of intensive research that he made up his mind in 1977 to open up a lingerie business. This business idea was wholly unique. It was to be for men who wanted to buy their better half a lingerie but didn’t want to be seen buying one. The catalogue sales were supposed to facilitate this.

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Roy Raymond was the man who revolutionised or lets say eroticised the lingerie market.

In 1950s and 1960s,panties were completely about practicality and long-lateness. The lace and thonged bras were bagged for special purposes such as Honeymoon or anniversary night and also the place of such fancy undergarments was near or in form of pirates costumes outside the main stream products obtainable at stores. During late 1960s and 1970s, the women’s movement asked women to free themselves from the shackles of bras. The lingerie industry responded with improvised designs which gave the women a natural look without the awkwardness of crampled bust line. But the underwear remained the fun-destroying.

Roy opened his first store in Stanford Shopping Centre in Palo Alto, California. Within the first year the sales grossed upto $500,000, allowing the founder to expand to four stores at new locations along with a mail-order operation. By 1982, Raymond had sent twelve catalogue. The 12th catalogue costed $3. And till now the catalogue sales cover company’s 55% of annual sales that is $7 million in figures. Banging the hole at right time with brilliant idea Victoria’s Secret became a “niche player” in underwear market.

The term “Victoria” came from the name of the era of Queen Victoria. She was said to have played ‘hide the sceptre’ sufficient enough to produce nine offspring before her husband’s untimely death. So what is a secret? Well a queen having so many children at such short and hurriedly manner doesn’t make you wonder the thirst she and Prince Albert might have? We would never know for sure. Raymond chose this word to summon the propriety and respectability associated with this era, externally refined while secrets being hidden deep inside. In 1982, Raymond’s company accounted to $6 million annually. However his stagnated philosophy was leading the then loaded company towards bankruptcy. The same year he sold Victoria’s Secret to Leslie Wexner, creator and owner of Limited Stores Inc of Ohio for $1 million.

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No Risk No Apparent Gain

Wexner was the owner of a $50 million company the Limited a sportswear manufacturing company and had over 188 stores across the company. His arrival changed the game for Victoria’s Secret.The issue with Raymond’s business model was that all its focus was to sell lingerie to male customers. This is where he was loosing his money. Wexner revamped Victoria’s policy. The focus now, was shifted to women who were its sole consumers.

“New colours, patterns and styles that promised sexiness packaged in a glamorous, tasteful way and with the snob appeal of European luxury” were added to appeal and impress the female buyers. In addition to this, the practice of catalogs was preserved and carried on.Perhaps Wexner very well understood that with time even a whip-smart idea becomes obsolete. Adaptation to change is how this mankind came into existence. With catalogs and changes in design Wexner kept the old customers happy while building new ones.

Five years after the purchase, Victoria’s Secret’s three boutique stores were metamorphosed into 346 store retailer. Howard Gross gained the force over Victoria’s Secret as the president in 1985 and by 1986 Victoria’s Secret became the only national chain of lingerie. From about 1985 to 1993 the company had sold men’s underwear.

According to Wall Street Journal, Victoria’s secret was among the best selling catalogs under ‘ mail order’ category. In 1990 the sales the sales quadrupled to $120, giving it a position of the fastest growing mail-order business.

The New York Times called it a “highly visible leader”, commenting on its usage of “unabashedly sexy high-fashion photography to sell middle-priced underwear.” In 1991, Victoria’s Secret introduced their own line of fragrances.

For an effort to widely popularise their secret Victoria’s Secret in partnership with FCB/Leber Katz Partners, for the first time, carried out an advertisement campaign at national level in a ten page gaudy insert that was visible in the November issues of House beautiful,New Woman, Elle, Vanity Fair, People,Vogue and Bon Appetite.

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A trip from ‘Catalog’ to larger share in ‘Drawers’

The ‘hot lingerie chain’ became plagued by continuous quality problems in 1990s.This was solely due to the gap within the management. The major life shock came to Howard Gross, who had natured the entire company and made it a big lingerie emperor. He was demoted and put in charge poorly functioning subsidiary of L Brands: The Limited Stores. Both the divisions were suffering badly.

In 1991, VS appointed London Symphony Orchestra to record romantic classical music. This move was to build strong brand loyalty and was succeful enough to sell more than 1 million copies.

Grace Nicholas became the President and CEO of the company. He worked to address the quality problems. As a result margins were tightened and profit grew at a slower pace. But they say slower the better and longer. So soon to curb yet another stagnation Victoria’s Secret launched the Miracle Bra in 1996. It is the first and the last fantasy bra to be sold, accounting to two million within first year itself! It was named as Million Dollar Bra because it adorned 100 carats of diamond with consumer price of $1,000,000 and Claudia Schiffer as the fantasy model. It was marketted as holiday bra.However it faced a bra war challenge from WonderBra of Sara Lee’s the following year. To this a TV campaign was made and nationally aired.

The now internationally famous Victoria’s Secret famous show was the brainchild of Stephaine Seymour. It was first held in August of 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Frederique van der Wal and Beverly Peele were too featured.This show took place two months before the sale 16% shares of The Limited as initial public offering. Seymour wrecked the balls at New York Stock Exchange with her publicity campaign. The following three fashion shows also took at the Plaza.

In 1998 VS gained a market share of 14% in apparel market. The very year, it thrusted itself into cosmetic market.

Victoria’s Secret’s 30 second Super Bowl advertisement in 1999,brought about one million peek-a-boos within an hour of airing it on the company’s website. Although various newspapers called it a failure on the account of inability of users to see Tyra Banks, Stephaine Seymor and Heidi Klum. This was majorly due to Victoria’s Secret’s technology fall out to meet the need of online user who because of congestion could only wacth jerky frames. The company spent 4 million dollars on the publicity of the event in international newspapers.

The VS Angels is one of the lingerie lines, launched in 1997, with Karen Mulder, Stephanie Seymour, Daniela Peštová, Helena Christensen and Tyra Banks along with rock star Tom Jones in the TV commercial. It was a huge success and the Angels started being featured in many commercials, having the rest of contract models such as Laetitia Castaby, Inés Rivero and Yasmeen Ghauri on their side. The February of 1998 was the debut year for the Angels on the runway of 4th annual show of Victoria’s Secret where Christensen’s place was filled by Chandra North.

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The 2011 Victoria’s Secert’s Fashion Show rose $12 million more as compared to the budget of first show($120,000).

 

The Victoria’s success mantra is its catalog, the Angels and the fashion show. One of the newspaper publication had said with each year passing by ‘it is less about the sales and more about the show.’ It is quite interesting to note that many Hollywood actresses send in their request to become Victoria’s Secret’s Angels but from the very start it has been reluctant to accept the request.Many people regard this as Victoria’s Secret’s hubris. This is majorly because they don’t know the requirements of the Angel.Angels aren’t a bunch of desparados. They are in themselves a product and face of the entire company. They are emboidiment of the effort of a whole team of professionals and are groomed into media-savy celebritie through extensive and intensive programmes.The selection process of the angels is quite interesting. One of the prerequisites to be an angel is to have height of atleast 5’9”. This is where many Hollywood celebrities fall short of. Furthermore, Angels are chosen by their appeal to women,not to men. Probably due to the fact that 90% of Victoria’s staff are women and also because being women they understand how the end users who are again women would feel by a specific portrayal of the models.

A trip from ‘Catalog’ to larger share in ‘Drawers’

 

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The ‘hot lingerie chain’ became plagued by continuous quality problems in 1990s.This was solely due to the gap within the management. The major life shock came to Howard Gross, who had natured the entire company and made it a big lingerie emperor. He was demoted and put in charge poorly functioning subsidiary of L Brands: The Limited Stores. Both the divisions were suffering badly.

In 1991, VS appointed London Symphony Orchestra to record romantic classical music. This move was to build strong brand loyalty and was successful enough to sell more than 1 million copies.

Grace Nicholas became the President and CEO of the company. He worked to address the quality problems. As a result margins were tightened and profit grew at a slower pace. But they say slower the better and longer. So soon to curb yet another stagnation Victoria’s Secret launched the Miracle Bra in 1996. It is the first and the last fantasy bra to be sold, accounting to two million within first year itself! It was named as Million Dollar Bra because it adorned 100 carats of diamond with consumer price of $1,000,000 and Claudia Schiffer as the fantasy model. It was marketed as holiday bra.However it faced a bra war challenge from WonderBra of Sara Lee’s the following year. To this a TV campaign was made and nationally aired.

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Victoria’s Secret launched the Miracle Bra in 1996. It is the first and the last fantasy bra to be sold, accounting to two million within first year itself

The now internationally famous Victoria’s Secret famous show was the brainchild of Stephaine Seymour. It was first held in August of 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Frederique van der Wal and Beverly Peele were too featured.This show took place two months before the sale 16% shares of The Limited as initial public offering. Seymour wrecked the balls at New York Stock Exchange with her publicity campaign. The following three fashion shows also took at the Plaza.

In 1998 VS gained a market share of 14% in apparel market. The very year, it thrusted itself into cosmetic market.

Victoria’s Secret’s 30 second Super Bowl advertisement in 1999, brought about one million peek-a-boos within an hour of airing it on the company’s website. Although various newspapers called it a failure on the account of inability of users to see Tyra Banks, Stephaine Seymor and Heidi Klum. This was majorly due to Victoria’s Secret’s technology fall out to meet the need of online user who because of congestion could only watch jerky frames. The company spent 4 million dollars on the publicity of the event in internetional newspapers.

The VS Angels is one of the lingerie lines, launched in 1997, with Karen Mulder, Stephanie Seymour, Daniela Peštová, Helena Christensen and Tyra Banks along with rock star Tom Jones in the TV commercial. It was a huge success and the Angels started being featured in many commercials, having the rest of contract models such as Laetitia Castaby, Inés Rivero and Yasmeen Ghauri on their side. The February of 1998 was the debut year for the Angels on the runway of 4th annual show of Victoria’s Secret where Christensen’s place was filled by Chandra North.

Victorias secret-Angels-hashingtag

The Victoria’s success mantra is its catalog, the Angels and the fashion show.

The Victoria’s success mantra is its catalog, the Angels and the fashion show. One of the newspaper publication had said with each year passing by ‘it is less about the sales and more about the show.’ It is quite interesting to note that many Hollywood actresses send in their request to become Victoria’s Secret’s Angels but from the very start it has been reluctant to accept the request.Many people regard this as Victoria’s Secret’s hubris. This is majorly because they don’t know the requirements of the Angel.Angels aren’t a bunch of desparados. They are in themselves a product and face of the entire company. They are embodiment of the effort of a whole team of professionals and are groomed into media-savy celebrities through extensive and intensive programmes.The selection process of the angels is quite interesting. One of the prerequisites to be an angel is to have height of atleast 5’9” of height. This is where many Hollywood celebrities fall short of. Furthermore, Angels are chosen by their appeal to women,not to men. Probably due to the fact that 90% of Victoria’s staff are women and also because being women they understand how the end users who are again women would feel by a specific portrayal of the models.

The 2011 Victoria’s Secret’s Fashion Show rose $12 million more as compared to the budget of first show($120,000).

The Growth period

The early 2000s were the time when Victoria’s realised that they focus way too much on the cleavage. The eye was opened by Sharen Jester Turney. She was previously employed at Neiman Marcus Direct. Turney began giving a new meaning to Victoria’s Secret’s catalog. The focus was transferred from “breasts spilling over the tops of black, purple and reptile-print underthings” to the one that would catch the attention of an “upscale customer who now feels more comfortable buying La Perla or Wolford lingerie”. Turney wanted to give lingerie, clothes, sleepwear and cosmetics closer to a Vogue style’s catalog. Grace Nicholas also changed the outlook of the stores, doing away with the 1800s Victorian bordello.

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Turney was promoted from catalog head to head of the whole company in May 2006 by Wexner.In 2006, Victoria’s Secret’s thousands stores ruled over one-third of total purchases in the ‘intimate apparel industry. Victoria’s Secret in 2006 welcomed writers who could give its catalog a magazine feel. In October 2002, Victoria’s Secret started another line of lingerie,Pink for girls belonging to the age group of 15-22 years. The sole purpose was build brand loyalty and to introduce these teens to much older Victoria’s Secret’s fashion lines such as Angels, Body and Very Sexy. The Pink product line has sleepwear, lingerie, lounge wear and beauty product.

Pink faced competition from American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie and Abercrombie & Fitch. Pink’s sweet pants and pajamas were a popular trend in teens and preteens from 2006 onwards. By 2009, the Pink had launched its premier stand alone stores. Controversies began when Victoria’s Secret printed “Bright Young Things”, “Feeling Lucky”, “Call me” and “Wild” on their Pink underwear. Media and women groups began accusing the lingerie empire for giving an image of sexual object to younger girls. To this the company responded by removing these items from the website and said that they were targeting college girls.

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Controversies began when Victoria’s Secret printed “Bright Young Things”, “Feeling Lucky”, “Call me” and “Wild” on their Pink underwear.

Since 2006, there is always a Pink segment in the company’s Fashion Shows. Just as Pink is a separate line of product, it has its own models. Alessandra Ambrosio was the first one to be selected as a Pink model. Following her steps were Miranda Kerr,Behati Prinsloo and Elsa Hosk. Every Pink model except Jessica Hart later received an opportunity to be an Angel.

In 2002 Victoria’s Secret introduced ‘swim-wear’ through its catalogs and website. It was brought into the stores in last three years.

Victoria’s Secret hired Bob Dylan in an advertisement in 2004 to experiment with new marketing possibilities while their fashion show of 2004 was dropped due to fallout from super bowl and Janet Jackson incident that bombarded the company with complaints from women groups.Instead Angels were sent on a tour called Angels Across America. Since then many tours have been organized which featured the Angels for instance the Bombshell Tour of 2010(having Lima, new Lily Aldridge and Swanepoel), the VSX tour of 2013( Ambrosio,Aldridge,Swanepoel and Ellingson).

The company hit the secret online in 2009 by opening official Twitter account along with an offciail Facebook page. It kicked off its behind –the-scenes content relating to its commercial shoots, fashion shows and catalog on its website.