Few labels and brands are as iconic as Victoria’s Secret. Ask anyone and they will know what the brand represents, even if they’ve never seen an actual item that belongs to it. And those items are, of course, the sexiest, most revolutionary luxury lingerie. And no one ever thought that lingerie could make such a name for itself.
It’s been 35 years since the inception of the brand by founder Roy Raymond in 1977 and Victoria’s Secret is now the largest American retailer of lingerie and a multi-billion dollar company. The brand has transformed the conception of underwear and has pioneered lingerie into being high-fashion. For Victoria’s Secret, women’s underwear is not a mere undergarment worn for necessity but a source of boosting one’s self-confidence and making a woman truly feel like a woman. Even the annual fashion show, featuring the Victoria’s Secret angels, has transcended being a mere fashion show on a catwalk into rock-concert style entertainment and one of the most important fashion events every year. The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is known for lining up stellar entertainment and musicians, from Cirque Du Soleil to Akon to Katy Perry to Rihanna and Justin Beiber at this year’s event.
Victoria’s Secret is a classic example of how a business turned into an empire from having recognized a niche and filling it. The right time and place is sometimes the magic ingredient in the recipe of success. Victoria’s Secret was founded in San Francisco, California by Roy Raymond, a Tufts University and Stanford Graduate School of Business graduate, and his wife, Gaye. Raymond had felt a need for the revolutionizing of thinking about women’s underwear when he himself had felt embarrassed to buy lingerie for his wife at a department store. Fancier items, such as sexy lingerie, were saved by women for special occasions, such as honeymoons. Yet even lingerie that pushed the limits and dared to be provocative weren’t available in mainstream stores.
Raymond actually studied the lingerie market for eight years before borrowing money from his parents and a bank to establish Victoria’s Secret, which was then a store where men could be comfortable shopping for underwear or lingerie for women. The company did so well in the first years that Raymond could open new stores in different locations but as the years drew on the company headed into bankruptcy as it primarily focused on a male customer base. The company was thus sold to Limited Stores Inc, which still owns it today. Limited Stores Inc saw where the company was erring and changed its target market to women, boosting sales and being able to expand into malls. The Victoria’s Secret brand has only grown since then, much with the aid of their annual catalog which is anxiously-awaited every year and of their social media on Facebook and Twitter.
Even the Victoria’s Secret angels are no longer just models but icons of fashion, style, allure, and utter sex-appeal. The era of the supermodel was witnessed on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk, infamous for its unique length, seeing models such as Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, and Tyra Banks having graced it.
Victoria’s Secret is not only celebrated for the role it has played in the fashion world but also for the lessons in business that can be learned from it. The brand has carved its place in the fashion world and is set to remain exactly where it is – at the top.