Seven not-so-secret secrets of Victoria's Secret

Aug 6, 2012

US lingerie giant is set to open its Bond Street store – so why are the neighbours complaining?

Getty Images

Slideshow: Victoria's Secret fashion show - in pictures

AFTER opening its first London store at the Westfield shopping centre near the Olympic Park last month, the American lingerie chain Victoria's Secret is expected to open its flagship store opposite Fenwick on Bond Street any day now.

There are reports of local retailers complaining about the lingerie store "lowering the tone", with the Bond Street Association saying it could "understand that some might feel they want to object". But shouldn't they be glad a virtually recession-proof company is bringing its business to the area? That's just one of the secrets of the brand's success...

It's a US company but there's a British connection
The man who started Victoria's Secret, back in 1977, was Roy Raymond. He wanted to buy lingerie for his wife and, as The Sunday Telegraph reports, realised there was a gap in the market for a man-friendly lingerie store. He supposedly named it after Britain's prudish Queen Victoria.

The chain is HUGE in America Raymond sold the company in the 1980s to entrepreneur Leslie Wexner who within years had turned it into America's biggest lingerie retailer. Today, there are more than 1,000 outlets in the States. Just as important, the mail-order catalogue is shipped to millions of households eight times a year.

The lingerie is not THAT expensive The Victoria's Secret range is priced somewhere between Marks & Spencer and high-end brands like Myla. "£100 is a lot to spend on underwear, but it will get you something quite special," Jordana Morrison, lingerie buyer for Selfridges, told the Sunday Telegraph. "By comparison, £100 of designer outerwear won't get you much. Victoria's Secret lets you buy designer-wear without the usual price tag."

They spend a fortune on promotion Since its inception in 1995, the Victoria's Secret annual pre-Christmas season fashion show has featured many of the world's most beautiful models, including Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Allessandra Ambrosio, Miranda Kerr and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, invariably got up in feathers, crystals and angels' wings as well as lingerie. The 2011 show [see video below] in New York featured rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West and cost £7.5m to put on.

The models are gorgeous but not threatening According to Jenny Dickinson of Harper's Bazaar, models such as Allessandra Ambrosio and Candice Swanepoel – who led the catwalk at the 2011 show - might be fabulous but they have something real about them, too. "They're slim, but they also have curves. For the buying public, it's all about wanting to be those women."

Anyway, it's all about the male customers... Roy Raymond's original ethos – that male shoppers needed help buying lingerie for their wives and girlfriends – has not been lost. "The in-store sales team seek out male customers, to make them feel comfortable and not embarrassed about browsing," says Edith Youngblood of the trend forecasting website WGSN. "They are trained to know what men are looking for."

... And lingerie is virtually recession-proof "Lingerie is performing strongly compared to other sectors in the fashion industry," says Edith Youngblood. Even in a recession, people still want to treat themselves and underwear is "an affordable indlugence".

Sign up for our daily newsletter