After years of sticking to an outdated brand model even in the face of declining sales and threatened irrelevance, Victoria’s Secret has finally made an attempt to answer the public’s repeated calls for diversity by hiring its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio.
The Brazilian model first sparked rumors that she had signed with the brand last week after tagging a Victoria’s Secret account in an Instagram post and using the hashtags #vspink, #campaign and #diversity. Sampaio continued to feed the rumor mill a few days later with another post, a video, featuring the hashtags #staytuned, #vspink and #diversity.
The model’s agent, Erio Zanon, has since confirmed that Sampaio has been hired by the struggling lingerie giant. Zanon reportedly told CNN that Victoria’s Secret had hired Sampaio for a campaign for the company’s PINK line, to be released in mid-August.
Sampaio will be the first transgender model to represent the brand, which has come under fire in the past for its attitudes toward the transgender community. In 2018, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer for Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, tossed the already struggling brand out of the frying pan and into the fire with controversial comments in which he defended the brand’s long-criticized exclusion of trans models in its annual fashion show. In the now-infamous Vogue interview, Razek said he didn’t think the brand should include “transsexuals” — a term that is widely considered outdated and offensive — because “the show is a fantasy.”
That “fantasy” has since been canceled in the wake of mounting criticism and declining interest in Victoria’s Secret’s antiquated vision, with the brand first announcing that the 2019 fashion show wouldn’t air on television, followed by recent news that the show has been called off altogether.
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