Victoria’s Secret’s First Male Model Will Rep the Brand’s New “Gender Free” Collection

Netflix star Darren Barnet joins the brand's ongoing effort to build a more inclusive cast of ambassadors

Darren Barnet attends as Netflix hosts a mobile truck pop up activation in celebration of the launch of NEVER HAVE I EVER Season 2 on July 15, 2021 in New York City.
Darren Barnet is Victoria's Secret's first male model
Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Netflix

If you haven’t noticed, the times have changed at Victoria’s Secret. Last year, as part of a massive rebrand, the company bid its once-iconic Angels adieu in favor of a more inclusive cast of brand ambassadors known as the VS Collective. Since then, the brand has ushered in a number of (arguably performative) firsts in terms of diversity, including its first trans model and first autistic model. Now, Victoria’s Secret is marking yet another first for the brand: its first male model.

Darren Barnet, who (despite being 30 years old) currently stars as a teen heartthrob on Netflix’s Mindy Kaling-produced Never Have I Ever, has joined Victoria’s Secret as the retailer’s first-ever male model. But while Victoria’s Secret may remain best known for its lacy V-Strings and sexy underthings, it seems Barnet will not be modeling any men’s lingerie for the brand — which, frankly, feels like kind of an oversight. Rather, Barnet stars in the brand’s latest campaign for its “Gender Free” line of loungewear, sporting gender-neutral T-shirts, shorts and sweats from Victoria’s Secret’s Pink brand.

“We are so excited to announce this partnership because Darren is such a positive role model for teens and young adults,” Pink CEO Amy Hauk said in a press release. “As we focus on expanding our gender-free offerings and continue to evolve as a brand, we want to ensure our partners not only represent the diversity of our customers, but also embody individuality and self-confidence.”

In addition to appearing in ad campaigns, Darren’s role with the brand will also involve “participating in various activations that support the brand’s key initiatives, as part of Pink’s ongoing commitment to inclusivity, fostering positive mental health, and empowering young adults,” per the release.

The Netflix star announced his new gig with the brand on Instagram last week. “I will be helping to launch new styles in their gender free collection while also supporting their initiatives in empowering young adults and mental health awareness,” he wrote. “I am beyond excited to share some of these new styles but I am even more grateful that I can be a part of a good cause. I wish mental health was more of a focus when I was a teenager and my hope is that we can reach those young adults who need to be heard and supported most.”

That’s all well and good, but I do think that if Victoria’s Secret is welcoming men into the fold, it might also be a good opportunity for the brand to do its part in normalizing men’s lingerie. Gender-neutral sweatpants? How original. Give us a man in a lace bodysuit and we’ll talk.

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