- Ed Razek, the controversial chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, is stepping down.
- The news comes less than a year after Razek faced backlash for saying Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show should not feature “transsexuals” because “the show is a fantasy.”
- On Monday morning, Valentina Sampaio appeared to announce via Instagram that she had been hired as the brand’s first openly transgender model.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, is stepping down, according to an internal memo shared with Business Insider.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report the news.
In an internal memo sent to employees by L Brands chairman and CEO Les Wexner on Monday, Razek wrote that he had shared with Wexner his “desire to retire sometime around mid August.”
An L Brands representative did not comment beyond the memo.
The news comes less than a year after a Vogue interview with Razek sparked massive backlash. In the interview, Razek said he didn’t think the lingerie brand’s annual fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because “the show is a fantasy.”
Many people called for Razek’s resignation. The executive apologised two days later but did not signal plans to leave the company at the time.
Razek has been responsible for organising Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show since 1995 and became chief marketing officer of L Brands in the late 1990s. Victoria’s Secret employees told Business Insider’s Mary Hanbury earlier this year that Razek didn’t resign in large part because of his close relationship with Wexner.
“Ed … is just very untouchable in Les’ eyes,” a former executive who worked at Victoria’s Secret’s New York office for nine years and was laid off in mid-2017 told Business Insider.
“He considers Ed to be like a brainchild of the brand with him,” they added. “He is the golden child and does whatever he wants.”
In March, L Brands’ shareholders also stepped in by writing a fiery letter to Wexner, urging him to, among other things, update the brand’s image and switch up its predominantly male board of directors. Razek was also called out in the shareholder letter.
“In our view, Mr. Razek has done a poor job of stewarding Victoria’s Secret’s brand by failing to communicate a compelling, up-to-date image that resonates with today’s consumers,” Barington Group CEO James A. Mitarotonda wrote.
He added: “While we recognise that Victoria’s Secret cannot be all things to all people, we believe that the Company should be delivering a more inclusive marketing message that promotes a more expansive view of beauty.”
Recently, Wexner has been in the spotlight for his ties to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Former L Brands executives told The Wall Street Journal that Epstein attempted to meddle in L Brands’ business, buying a plane from the company for $US10 million and trying to offer input on which women should be Victoria’s Secret models.
In July, the Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik told The Daily Telegraph that the annual show – long Razek’s responsibility – would be canceled this year. Earlier this year, Wexner said to employees in an internal memo that the company didn’t think “network television is the right fit” for the show.
On Monday morning, Valentina Sampaio seemingly announced via Instagram that she had been hired as the company’s first openly transgender model.
Read Wexner’s full memo:
Dear associates –
I received the note below that Ed sent to his team. After my conversations with him, and with his permission, I am sharing it with all of you. There are few with Ed’s passion and talent in this industry, but I have faith in our incredible teams, talent and product, and I look forward to the future as we grow and change.
While we review how to best transition Ed’s work, SVP of Brand and Creative, Ed Wolf will serve as interim head of Brand and Creative reporting to me, and Bob Campbell, VP, Creative for VS, will serve as interim head of VS Creative reporting to John Mehas. In the meantime, I ask everyone to continue their maniacal focus on fall and holiday.
SO LONG PARTNERS
With the exception of Les, I’ve been with L Brands longer than anyone. I’ve loved every minute of it, and every one of you. I’ve appreciated your partnership, your energy, your teamwork, and your enthusiasm. You are, every one of you, a joy to work with, and a joy to be with. The best partners anyone could ever hope for. And I’ve loved coming to work here, every single day, for many, many years.
But all good things must and do, inevitably, come to an end.
A few weeks ago, I shared with Les my desire to retire sometime around mid August. It was a tough conversation to have because, as some of you must know, we have shared so much together for so many years. Including a deep love of this business. Still, it’s time.
I want to thank all of you for the smiles, the hellos, the laughs, the mission. I could not be more lucky than to have been with all of you at this extraordinary and quite singular organisation. I truly hope you know, deep in your hearts, how very special this place is. I do – more than ever.
Much love and respect to you all.
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