Lingerie Leader Victoria’s Secret Has New Competition: Brands Embracing Body Positivity

By Ellie Silverman
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jennifer Redding, a Wedbush Securities senior analyst, says she sees the body-positivity trend as growing and long-lasting. In lingerie campaigns, words like “sexy” are being replaced by words like power and confidence.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.

In the Victoria’s Secret window at the Shops at Liberty Place, a thin model with parted lips and straight hair stares straight ahead while wearing a black bra and lace undies. The words plastered around her image say she’s wearing the “Very Sexy Push-Up” bra.

A block away at 1721 Chestnut Street at the intimates brand Aerie, models of all sizes show their stretch marks. One sits in a wheelchair, while another wears an ostomy pouch to collect waste. The words Change your bra! and Don’t change you surround them.

Victoria’s Secret’s sexually charged images set the industry’s standard for decades. But now upstarts are making inroads with a bold approach focused on self-acceptance. It’s fueled by women who believe sexy is embracing their bodies, regardless of size or shape, and buying bras and lingerie for themselves, not necessarily for a partner’s pleasure.

Brands like Pittsburgh-based Aerie, American Eagle’s intimates brand, are pushing a body-positivity movement and selling products rooted in comfort and a wider sense of what’s beautiful.

Victoria’s Secret still maintains a grip on the $9 billion industry. Its parent firm gets 62.8 percent of those revenues, according to a 2018 IBISWorld report. But experts said the brand’s inability to adapt to social changes is leaving room for competitors to flourish.

“These companies, now opposed to Victoria’s Secret, want to say: ‘We make for every skin tone. We make for every body type. … We’re really thinking about you and what you want,’ which I think is completely different from what’s ever gone on in lingerie marketing before,” said Lisa Hayes, director of the fashion design program at Drexel University.

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