Victoria’s Secret is making some sacrifices in the face of declining sales. On the chopping block: its swimwear collection.
The company will cease selling swimsuits, along with clothing and accessories, it confirmed Thursday. Its print catalog will also disappear as the company plans to have its online store mimic what’s being sold in physical stores. In an increasingly crowded market, the lingerie giant can’t afford to have a sprawl across categories and a commerce strategy that finds the company selling some items through one channel, but not through another.
In its earnings announcement for the first quarter of 2016, sales had slipped by 4 percent
“The rationale is to focus our energy on our most significant core categories — bras, panties, beauty,” said Stuart Burgdoerfer, CFO of parent company L Brands, in the announcement. “We came to a conclusion that the swim business was not one of those core categories. It had been a flattish business for the last several years.”
The news has left many Victoria’s Secret fans distraught. A print catalog may be easy to part with in 2016. For some, the company’s collection of colorful swimsuits is not.
I don’t know what Victoria’s Secret’s corporate board is thinking by getting rid of their swimsuit line. Bad business decision.
— B r o o k l y n n . (@VivaLaBrooklynn) May 26, 2016
Victoria’s frickin Secret better be that she’s lying about all of this getting rid of swimwear talk cause wtf Vicki ???
— Carls (@CarlieZark) May 20, 2016
I am so disappointed that Victoria’s Secret is getting rid of their swimsuit line… What about the swim special? I’m so sad:(
— lyssbrum♕ (@AlyssaBrumley) May 25, 2016
Victoria’s Secret is not alone in slimming down operations. Legacy companies that have been around for decades are being forced to re-focus efforts and streamline operations in order to compete with younger, more nimble companies that have resonated with consumers on social media. Swimwear brand Solid & Striped, for instance, became a global hit through its strong Instagram game.
Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, has lacked differentiation not only in the swimwear category, said Brooke Blashill, svp and director of Boutique@Ogilvy, but in its lingerie offerings as well. In recent years, Victoria’s Secret has been too slow to pick up on the trends set by peers.
“If you look at what’s happening in intimates — for instance, soft line bras are what has been trending for years, but Victoria’s Secret just responded to that this year,” said Blashill. “They have so many different product lines, and there’s a lot of indie brands that are now entering that market that people are looking for something interesting.”
It doesn’t help that Victoria’s Secret’s signature branding has been bashed in popular culture, where parading one body type as the ideal has fallen out of favor as the body positivity movement gains steam on social media. Lane Bryant came out swinging at Victoria’s Secret last year when it launched its plus size “I’m No Angel” campaign, which took a direct stab at Victoria’s Secret’s slim-body brigade of models.
“[It] was very much about appropriating this idea of the ‘Angel’ body: I don’t have this body but I’m going to show it and celebrate it,” said Laird + Partners’ evp and senior creative director Hans Dorsinville, who worked on the campaign.
To resonate, Victoria’s Secret will have to reconsider what defines its core offerings.
“Push up bras and major cleavage is really on the decline,” said Blashill.