Victoria’s Secret creates an online marketplace for women-led brands

Discussion
Source: Victoria’s Secret’s VS&Co-Lab website
May 31, 2022

Victoria’s Secret has launched a curated digital platform dedicated to third-party brands with a focus on women-led up-and-comers.

Of the 19 intimates, lifestyle and swimwear brands featured on the VS&Co-Lab section on VictoriasSecret.com at launch, 75 percent are founded, owned or led by women. The section highlights the stories of the suppliers, several of which are Black-owned. The products are being sold alongside core Victoria’s Secret, Beauty and Pink ranges.

No in-store selling section is currently planned.

“We see important growth potential through partnerships with innovative, relevant brands that can help us extend our reach into category and consumer segments where we have historically been underrepresented,” Martin Waters, CEO of Victoria’s Secret, said in a statement.

Brands featured include Buki Ade swimwear, Leonisa shapewear and the plus-size intimates brand Mindd. Also featured are Frankies Bikinis and For Love & Lemons, both in which Victoria’s Secret owns a minority stake.

Patti Cazzato, head of emerging businesses, said that with females making up nearly 90 percent of store associates, Victoria’s Secret has an obligation to support women. “We are meeting consumers where they are while simultaneously partnering with small business to drive economic empowerment for women and people of color,” she said.

The program builds further on recent moves to embrace a more inclusive marketing approach, including forming VS Collective to showcase a diverse lineup of models, and using plus-size, disabled and transgender models. The retailer also appointed a nearly all-women board with its spin-off from Bath & Body Works in August 2021 and launched the Happy Nation gender-neutral tween brand.

On its first-quarter analyst call, Mr. Waters said the brand repositioning is improving employee morale, elevating social media rating scores, attracting younger consumers and encouraging third-party partnerships.

“We didn’t get many third parties knocking on our door during 2016 – 2019,” said Mr. Martin. “Now, some of the best brands in the world are coming to us and talking to us about collaborations. And we know that when we have successful third parties in our business that we get incredibly high frequency of shopping, and we also get high crossover with the core business.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more of an upside or downside to VS&Co-Lab? Does selling third-party brands risk confusing consumers and diluting the appeal of Victoria’s Secret’s core brands?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Since VS still holds almost a 30 percent market share in the lingerie category, this is a smart move."
"VS definitely needs to make a change, but this isn’t the right one."
"hThe right question to ask would be, 'will this lab effort be enough to overcome the backlash against VS for not being women-focused enough?""

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10 Comments on "Victoria’s Secret creates an online marketplace for women-led brands"


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Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret is repositioning its brand. It’s trying to scrub the overtly sexist images from the minds of the consumer and replace them with images that are more inclusive. The VS&Co-Lab is a separate section of the website and it’s very clear what it is about.

There is always the risk of diluting the Victoria’s Secret core brand with this addition, but since the brand is already under reconstruction, I see this highly curated third-party partnership as a plus. The product on VS&Co-Lab is unique and beautiful.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Until recently I would have answered this with a yes, now I have different opinion. Consumers have learned that many of their online stores are cross-branding products. I think VS&C can successfully differentiate between their brands and their partners. In this example, I believe it will resonate with their customers and lend credibility to their message of inclusivity.

Lucille DeHart
BrainTrust

I’m confused — figurately, of course. Retailers are counting on the marketplace platform to expand merchandising and broaden their brand appeal, HOWEVER this is best served by retailers who have best-in-class operations and a brand that is wholesale elastic. Retailers like Walmart are perfect marketplace platforms. They are stores more than product brands. Retailers like VS are product brands first and wholesalers second. I applaud their effort to redefine themselves as more diverse and female-centric, but this is the wrong approach. VS was founded on the seductive, sensual appeal of intimates — pivoting too strongly will not only dilute the brand but confuse the customer. Instead, they should look to bring on female designers and develop lines under their brands as derivatives. VS needs to shift into female empowerment but embrace the sensuality that is part of that — not objectifying as they have done in the past.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

VS had to mend its relationship with its customer base. This is a good move in that direction. By providing more choice to the customer and supporting women and minority-owned businesses, they hit on important triggers to build a stronger bond with their customers.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust

I believe this is the wrong question. The right question to ask would be, “will this lab effort be enough to overcome the backlash against VS for not being women-focused enough?” I think it’s a step in the right direction. I think they still have a long way to go before they are going to reclaim the level of relevancy that Aerie and other more naturally inclusive brands have achieved with young women today. I’m not sure they can do more to accelerate it – this kind of transformation takes time, both to achieve internally and to seep into customers’ perceptions of the brand.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

I definitely see an upside to Victoria’s Secret launching a curated digital platform more inclusive in products and sizes and spotlighting women-led indie brands. It’s more than time for this change and it broadens Victoria’s Secret’s reach to today’s consumer, who does not like to fit into old stereotypes.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Since VS still holds almost a 30 percent market share in the lingerie category, this is a smart move. Although there’s apparently some haters out there for both VS and Nike, I look to Nike recently as the true way forward for brands: killer e-commerce, reduced store count heavy on experience and, yeah, a marketplace (or at least belonging to one). VS apparently agrees. I also thought the move to Amazon by VS was a good one as “pretenders” were actually selling their goods on the platform anyway! A deal with Amazon to expunge those elements and then creating their own marketplace are great, but also necessary moves.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I’m not sure I’m a fan of this. In principle it seems like the right move for good reasons, but in practice I wonder what the impact on the brand and the retail units will be.

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

VS definitely needs to make a change, but this isn’t the right one. It’s a great opportunity for the third parties to get exposure, but it just highlights that VS can’t do it themselves. Filling a void in their product line by sourcing it elsewhere isn’t a long-term strategy that is sustainable.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret has learned its lessons right from the previous controversies. They are aiming at rebranding their image which is indeed the right decision. Victoria’s Secret is now portraying its identity as a brand that is committed to opening new doors by celebrating, uplifting, and advocating for ALL women. In addition to this, third-party collaborations like with VS&Co-Lab will definitely add more value to their core business. I feel this will be a win-win situation for Victoria’s Secret.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Since VS still holds almost a 30 percent market share in the lingerie category, this is a smart move."
"VS definitely needs to make a change, but this isn’t the right one."
"hThe right question to ask would be, 'will this lab effort be enough to overcome the backlash against VS for not being women-focused enough?""

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