Victoria’s Secret is saying goodbye to its Angels and hello to athletes, activists and actors as the lingerie brand’s new spokespeople.
The intimate-clothing retailer, known for using models called “Angels” to represent collections and walk in the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, announced a rebrand with a new campaign Wednesday recruiting a group of diverse women as the brand’s new representatives.
Among the first seven women selected to join the “VS Collective” are professional soccer star Megan Rapinoe, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and LGBTQ model and activist Valentina Sampaio, the first transgender model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. More women are set to join.
Victoria’s Secret created the partnership to “build new, deeper relationships with all women” by creating “revolutionary” lingerie collections, “inspiring” content, and bring awareness for causes that support women, according to a press release about the changes.
“White Tiger” actress Chopra said she remembers being gifted her first item from Victoria’s Secret when she was 16.
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“I am most excited for new customers and for those who have always been a customer of Victoria’s Secret, to feel represented and like they belong,” Chopra said in the release.
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The brand has faced criticism for its lack of diversity within its model selection.
In a 2018 interview with Vogue, the brand’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek at the time said that he wasn’t interested in casting transgender and plus-size models for the annual fashion show.
His comments sparked backlash and fire for the brand. Razek later retired and Victoria’s Secret cast Sampaio as its first openly transgender model and hired its first plus-sized model, Ali Tate-Cutler, in 2019.
The same year, Victoria’s Secret canceled its annual fashion show, citing the need to “evolve” its marketing technique as a reason.
“Being a trans woman often means facing closed doors to people’s hearts,” Sampaio said in Wednesday’s release. “As a powerful global platform, Victoria’s Secret is committed to opening these doors for trans women like me, by celebrating, uplifting and advocating for ALL women.”
Having athletes like Rapinoe represent the brand could be the first step to a changing Victoria’s Secret image.
“So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry and I’m thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women,” Rapinoe said in the Wednesday announcement.
“First is hard. First is lonely. But first is necessary. First is crucial so that a door can be opened for others to fit through,” she wrote alongside a photo of her on the runway.
“Within a 10 year span starting in 1995, I was the first Black @VictoriasSecret contract model ever. The first Black Victoria’s Secret Cover model. The first Black VS model to do so many other groundbreaking things with the brand – as well as other brands. But after a first, must come a flow of more. A flow of different. A flow of unique.”
Though she retired from the runway 16 years ago, she said she is proud to witness “a beauty revolution.”
“To the new collective of badass ROLE models, I may have cracked that door open, but y’all are charging through. Keep on keepin’ on until we all LOSE COUNT of how many are breaking through behind you.”
More changes are expected to come to Victoria’s Secret as parent company L Brands announced plans for the brand to be a standalone public company in August. In February, L Brands announced 30 to 50 U.S. store locations would be closing, after the company announced closing 250 stores in 2020.
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Contributing: Rasha Ali, Anika Reed, Jenna R
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Victoria’s Secret rebrand: Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra, more join