As Fashion Week unfolded in New York—and Rihanna hosted her Savage x Fenty show in Brooklyn—Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands held its investor meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The consensus around Rihanna’s entry into the lingerie space has widely agreed that the current biggest name in intimates apparel could never. L Brands had an opportunity to prove otherwise.
According to Fortune, at Tuesday’s meeting, Victoria’s Secret Chief Executive Officer John Mehas, who joined the company from Tory Burch last year, expressed confidence that the path forward to success was evolution and putting women at the center of the brand. “We need to be led by her, for her,” he said.
For Mehas, the future of Victoria’s Secret—a brand that hasn’t cast size-inclusive models and whose parent company’s stock has fallen 28 percent since the beginning of the year—will look different by way of more wireless bras, a push toward matching bra and underwear sets, and a new approach to sales-associate training, CNBC reports. “[Customers have] been very vocal about what [they’d] like to see from us in terms of inclusivity, #MeToo, rethinking the fashion show,” Mehas said. “We’re essentially in agreement at this.”
At the meeting, sister brand VS Pink revealed images of its new direction, as well—one aimed to win back its Gen Z market. As Wall Street Journal reporter Khadeeja Safdar shared on Twitter, its creative team teased an upcoming campaign that featured a group of models of different sizes wearing brightly colored clothing. The image suggested a more body-positive approach to product and advertising, but any information about potential size expansion has yet to be confirmed.
Pink’s CEO Amy Hauk (who, like Mehas, assumed the position last year) promised at the meeting that the brand is “committed to learning” and shifting its focus to the “power of femininity,” according to Fortune. But at the main Victoria’s Secret line, a clear vision has not yet been shared. “Amy and the team are a little further ahead than we are,” Mehas said. Hauk was also the only female executive to present on stage at the investor meeting.
These investor meetings come a little over a month since L Brand’s former chief marketing officer Ed Razek left his post. A 36-year Victoria’s Secret vet, he was at the helm throughout the time when the brand’s identity was made iconic, i.e. the era of the VS Angel. Thin, cis-gender models, in heavily padded bras, oozed sex appeal that felt intended for the male gaze. A “fantasy,” as Razek would call it, but one that excluded anyone who didn’t fit those parameters—something the former executive confirmed in an interview with Vogue last year.
It’s either perfect or unfortunate timing that the investor meeting was shortly followed by the Savage x Fenty show. Rihanna’s lingerie brand is led by and speaks directly to women, and has embraced all intersections of female identity across body types, sizes, races, sexualities, and abilities.
CEO Les Wexner would later close the day’s session commenting that leadership at L Brands is “better than it’s ever been.” Even if that’s the case, Rihanna was mere hours away from suggesting that “better than ever” is perhaps still not enough.