In an earnings call on Thursday, L Brands’ chief financial officer and evp Stuart B. Burgdoerfer confirmed the months-long rumor that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (typically held in November and then broadcast on television in December) would not be taking place this year.
Burgdoerfer called the move a sign of the evolution of the marketing around Victoria’s Secret, which will “continue to get evaluated.”
“We recognize and appreciate that the communication of the brand, the offerings, the emotional content of Victoria’s Secret is obviously an important thing,” he said, according to WWD. He called the show “a remarkable marketing achievement” and an important part of building the Victoria’s Secret brand.
“With that said, we’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers,” he added, “and that’s among the things that [Victoria’s Secret CEO] John [Mehas] is focused on.”
This is the first official word that the elaborate lingerie fashion show had been canceled, though several models have said so over the past few months, prompting speculation that an announcement from the company was soon to follow. In particular, as the traditional timing for the show approached and no news of the event was released, its cancellation was all but assumed.
Changes to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show seemed inevitable after last year, when the show became embroiled in controversy after comments made by the company’s longtime CMO, Ed Razek, in an interview with Vogue regarding the lack of transgender models and size diversity. His remarks caused a stir on social media, and added fuel to an ongoing debate about the show’s place in modern society. Razek, who had long been the event’s biggest champion, announced his departure from the brand in August.
Victoria’s Secret has been suffering off the runway, too. Since the fourth quarter of 2016, the store has seen declines every quarter but one (Q1 of 2018), with sales falling 7% during the most recent quarter. Earlier this year, it also came to light that L Brands chief executive Les Wexner was friends with accused pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
For its part, Victoria’s Secret has made several announcements that perhaps signal a new dawn at the brand. The company hired its first transgender and plus-size models earlier this year, and also brought back the swimwear category, once a bright spot for the brand that had been shuttered in 2016.