Victoria’s Secret on Wednesday announced that it will end its infamous “Angel” model group, shifting to highlight a variety of women figures in the company’s modeling, including out U.S. soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe.
“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the former head of Victoria’s Secret’s international business who has been appointed chief executive of the brand, told The New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
The seven will be known as the VS Collective and will not only appear in ads but will also advise Victoria’s Secret.
Joining Rapinoe in the VS Collective are Eileen Gu, a freestyle skier; South Sudanese refugee and model Adut Akech; Paloma Elsesser, a model and inclusivity activist; actor and tech investor Priyanka Chopra Jonas; photographer and #Girlgaze founder Amanda de Cadenet; and Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio.
The Angels, Waters told The New York Times, aren’t “culturally relevant” now.
The change also comes as Victoria’s Secret attempts to rebound after closing a quarter of its stores in 2020.
The company was, Rapinoe said, “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired. And it was very much marketed toward younger women.”
She added that the message sent was damaging.
Rapinoe said that she was uncertain about being approached by the company at first. “I, too, was like, ‘What? Why do you want to work with me?’” she said. Rapinoe explained that it was the company’s interest in her participation going beyond just modeling the brand but consulting it as well.
“As a gay woman, I think a lot about what we think is sexy, and we are afforded the ability to do that, because I don’t have to wear the traditional sexy thing to be sexy and I don’t think the traditional thing is sexy when it comes to my partner or people I’ve dated,” Rapinoe told the outlet. “I think functionality is probably the sexiest thing we could possibly achieve in life. Sometimes just cool is sexy, too.”