The Victoria’s Secret brand hopes to showcase a ‘transgender’ biological man in women’s underwear, says Ed Razek, the brand’s chief marketing officer.
Razek’s statement came after progressives and transgender activists rallied on social media to complain he was excluding men who live as women from the brand’s glitzy idealization of women’s sexual power.
Razek sparked the dispute when he told Vogue that the company uses different fashion shows and different brands to target different groups of women:
I think we address the way the market is shifting on a constant basis. If you’re asking if we’ve … looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have. We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we. We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world.
But the company is under constant social media pressure to weaken the hugely valuable brand by sharing its feminine glamor with non-targeted groups, he said. “The hate that’s on social media, it’s extraordinarily toxic … Where does it end?” he said, adding:
So it’s like, why don’t you do [size] 50? Why don’t you do [size] 60? Why don’t you do [size] 24? It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader.
Introducing the $1 Million Dream Angels #VSFantasyBra, worn by @elsahosk & designed by Atelier Swarovski. See it sparkle on the runway in the #VSFashionShow, Sunday, Dec. 2 at 10/9c on @ABCNetwork. https://t.co/uCo2JsirUy pic.twitter.com/f1BnlX3QYE
— Victoria’s Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 5, 2018
Progressives and men who want to be glamorous women complained bitterly about their being excluded from the brand.
In response, Razek rapidly backtracked and issued a press statement saying he hoped a “transgender model” would be used in a show. But he carefully did not promise to hire a transgender model, saying:
Please read this important message from Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer, L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret). pic.twitter.com/CW8BztmOaM
— Victoria’s Secret (@VictoriasSecret) November 10, 2018
The Tweeted message, however, excluded the “hope” comment from the email statement sent to ModernFashionNews.com:
“My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize,” Razek said via email. “To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings … And like many others, they didn’t make it … But it was never about gender. Honestly, I really hope that a transgender model will make the show soon. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
So far, many business groups have made cost-free political alliances with transgender advocates, usually via the companies’ long-standing support of gay advocacy groups. But some companies — notably Target — have suffered badly when their customers resist the company’s imposition of pro-transgender ideology on their preferences. RuPaul, a gay activist, has also been slammed for excluding transgender people from his televised mockery of heterosexual Americans.
In the Victoria’s Secret dispute, Razek created a backlash by explaining the brand’s business case for avoiding transgender advocacy.
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