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Victoria’s Secret creates an online marketplace for women-led brands – RetailWire

May 31, 2022

Victoria’s Secret has launched a curated digital platform dedicated to third-party brands with a focus on women-led up-and-comers.

Of the 19 intimates, lifestyle and swimwear brands featured on the VS&Co-Lab section on VictoriasSecret.com at launch, 75 percent are founded, owned or led by women. The section highlights the stories of the suppliers, several of which are Black-owned. The products are being sold alongside core Victoria’s Secret, Beauty and Pink ranges.

No in-store selling section is currently planned.

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“We see important growth potential through partnerships with innovative, relevant brands that can help us extend our reach into category and consumer segments where we have historically been underrepresented,” Martin Waters, CEO of Victoria’s Secret, said in a statement.

Brands featured include Buki Ade swimwear, Leonisa shapewear and the plus-size intimates brand Mindd. Also featured are Frankies Bikinis and For Love & Lemons, both in which Victoria’s Secret owns a minority stake.

Patti Cazzato, head of emerging businesses, said that with females making up nearly 90 percent of store associates, Victoria’s Secret has an obligation to support women. “We are meeting consumers where they are while simultaneously partnering with small business to drive economic empowerment for women and people of color,” she said.

The program builds further on recent moves to embrace a more inclusive marketing approach, including forming VS Collective to showcase a diverse lineup of models, and using plus-size, disabled and transgender models. The retailer also appointed a nearly all-women board with its spin-off from Bath & Body Works in August 2021 and launched the Happy Nation gender-neutral tween brand.

On its first-quarter analyst call, Mr. Waters said the brand repositioning is improving employee morale, elevating social media rating scores, attracting younger consumers and encouraging third-party partnerships.

“We didn’t get many third parties knocking on our door during 2016 – 2019,” said Mr. Martin. “Now, some of the best brands in the world are coming to us and talking to us about collaborations. And we know that when we have successful third parties in our business that we get incredibly high frequency of shopping, and we also get high crossover with the core business.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more of an upside or downside to VS&Co-Lab? Does selling third-party brands risk confusing consumers and diluting the appeal of Victoria’s Secret’s core brands?

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“Since VS still holds almost a 30 percent market share in the lingerie category, this is a smart move.”

“VS definitely needs to make a change, but this isn’t the right one.”

“hThe right question to ask would be, ‘will this lab effort be enough to overcome the backlash against VS for not being women-focused enough?””

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Victoria’s Secret creates an online marketplace for women-led brands