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Victoria’s Secret’s M&A Reality Check

Victoria’s Secret doesn’t really need more sales, per se. Instead, it needs bigger profits, which requires customers to buy things at full price.
Victoria’s Secret doesn’t really need more sales, per se. Instead, it needs bigger profits, which requires customers to buy things at full price. Photo: Taylor Hill/WireImage
Lauren Sherman
July 13, 2023

I’m watching Victoria’s Secret closely these days, not only because I’m writing a book about what is still the biggest lingerie retailer in the country, but also because I want to see if their woke rebrand—from its 2000s era, winged supermodel aesthetic to the newer beauty-is-for-everyone mantra and “inclusive” sizing strategy—will eventually take hold. Especially now, as they face growing competition from Skims, which is in the midst of raising a whole lot of money from private investors in anticipation of an eventual I.P.O. 

The thing about specialty retailers like Victoria’s Secret is that nobody stays on top for long. If they’re any good, they have their moment in the sun, then fade away, like Gap; or are revitalized decades later by a new generation, like Abercrombie & Fitch. Fashion is a trends-driven business, which churns even faster these days thanks to Zara and Amazon and Shein. If there’s one reason for Victoria’s Secret’s prolonged commercial dominance, it’s probably the technical difficulty of manufacturing underwire bras. Victoria’s Secret is a replenishment business first, a fashion business second, and that has served it well.