- Victoria’s Secret officially cancelled its annual televised fashion show, which isn’t surprising considering how amazing Savage X Fenty’s runway was this year.
- The 2019 Savage X Fenty fashion show was held in New York City on September 10 and it is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
- The Savage X Fenty show was filled with music, lingerie, a diverse group of models, and even Rihanna herself.
- After the show premiered, many began comparing it to the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
- After seeing this show, it’s clear Savage X Fenty is a rising star because it champions diversity instead of making it an afterthought like Victoria’s Secret seems to have done.
- Victoria’s Secret has struggled with who should be its target audience: women or men who are shopping for women. Savage X Fenty knows its target consumer, no matter what gender they identify as.
- Unlike Victoria’s Secret, Savage X Fenty seems to cater to what shoppers want instead of telling them how they should be, which is clear when you look at the brand’s size ranges, lingerie styles, and diverse models.
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After Savage X Fenty streamed its first-ever runway show, higher-ups at Victoria’s Secret were probably relieved they cancelled their annual televised fashion show.
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty runway show took place on September 10 at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime. And it was quickly compared to the annual, now-cancelled, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
The reasons for the comparisons are fairly obvious: it’s a fashion show-cum-entertainment program that centres around a lingerie collection, features lots of celebrities and musical performances, and is aimed at consumers.
But beyond these basic descriptors, the similarities cease – and for Savage X Fenty that’s a good thing.
From the beginning, it’s clear the Savage X Fenty show is not your garden-variety runway show
Rihanna’s strong visual eye and knack for performance are both evident within the first few minutes of the Savage X Fenty show, which features her and other lingerie-clad models performing a dance number on top of futuristic-looking cubes.
With this show, it’s clear from the start that Rihanna has created something that’s unlike anything most of us have ever seen before.
After all, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has never even tried to be as cultivated and complex as the Savage X Fenty one.
The Victoria’s Secret show has historically been little more than a traditional runway show, livened up with charismatic supermodels and a few musical performances. The Savage X Fenty show was a fully choreographed performance-slash-concert with more dancing than traditional catwalking.
But still, ambition and production values are the least of what sets Savage X Fenty apart from Victoria’s Secret as a brand.
Savage X Fenty’s show highlights just how much Victoria’s Secret is struggling to stay relevant, especially when it comes to diversity
The lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret, which was founded in 1977 and started its famous fashion show in 1999, is struggling to catch up when it comes to diversity whereas Savage X Fenty has been championing diversity from the very start.
Last fall, Victoria’s Secret’s longtime chief marketing officer Ed Razek, who had been with the brand for nearly 30 years before recently stepping down, made comments in an interview with Vogue regarding plus-size and transgender models, firmly dismissing the idea of more diverse casting.
“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,” Razek said to the magazine in 2018.
He continued, “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.”
This particular quote, which has since circulated widely, was unsurprisingly not well-received for its lack of inclusivity.
Not only is Victoria’s Secret failing to include the more diverse bodies that represent what people actually look like, but its active refusal to do so put a bad taste in people’s mouths and has caused many to question the brand’s relevance.
In that same Vogue interview, Razek argues that Victoria’s Secret – along with other brands within its parent company, L Brands – has already done a lot to become more diverse, particularly with regard to the race and size of its models. But diversity isn’t a one-and-done deal, nor is it simply achieved by casting a few models of colour. It’s a continuous process and the brand still has a ways to go.
Take the recent reports that Victoria’s Secret hired its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio. Instead of making the brand appear with the times, the move appears reactionary in the wake of Razek’s original comments. Sampaio’s hiring was lauded, but also too little too late.
Meanwhile, Savage X Fenty has become a rising star by doing exactly what Victoria’s Secret refused to do.
Savage X Fenty has a diverse cast of models in its very first streamed show, featuring a wide range of big stars like Slick Woods, Isis King, Laverne Cox, and Paloma Elsesser.
The models in the show represent a variety of races, gender identities, and sizes, making Savage X Fenty’s diversity feel effortless, not forced.
Under Rihanna’s leadership, the lingerie and the show cater to consumers in a genuine and approachable way by presenting models who are sexy but also very real and very diverse – they’re people you can imagine hanging out with and befriending.
For example, in the Amazon-Prime stream, the Savage X Fenty models talk about things like eating chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce whereas Victoria’s Secret Angels are famous for discussing their super-strict diets and regimented exercise routines.
After seeing the fashion show, its clear Savage X Fenty has a better grasp on its brand identity than Victoria’s Secret
Victoria’s Secret has always struggled with who is its target audience: women or men shopping for women.
It was initially founded by a man, Roy Raymond, and conceptualized as a place men could feel “comfortable” buying their wives lingerie. A few years into its existence, Les Wexner incorporated it into his own L Brands and changed the direction to one more aimed at women.
But whether that pivot was successful is debatable.
Even in recent years, the brand’s shows, commercials, and ads seem, if not designed for, certainly aligned with mainstream ideas of what heterosexual men find attractive.
Becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel is something that would-be customers are supposed to aspire to rather than identify with.
Meanwhile, Savage X Fenty targets potential customers by resonating with who they are and what they like, not who it thinks they should want to be.
The show features a wide range of pieces, from comfortable-looking bralettes to lime-green lace pieces that look burlesque-show-worthy.
Savage X Fenty’s brand identity is very much “powerful femme.” The brand is marketing directly to its customers – not their partners – and the customer is not even necessarily a “her.”
The Savage X Fenty show proves that the brand isn’t the anti-Victoria’s Secret; it’s distinct and diverse in the best possible way
By streaming the show on Amazon Prime alongside links to purchase the collection’s lingerie pieces, Savage X Fenty situates itself squarely within the aspirational world of high fashion and affordable, approachable commerce.
And it’s just good business sense.
Savage X Fenty knows who its customer is, and it’s anyone who wants to feel sexy and powerful. The brand’s sizes range from XS to 3X, all of which are displayed proudly - dancing on stage, not shoved into some bottom drawer.
In a concert-worthy, visually stunning event, Savage X Fenty features quality pieces that a wide spectrum of adults could and want to wear.
Rihanna’s brand has become a champion by being distinct, diverse, thoroughly contemporary, and downright cool, which is all evident in the Savage X Fenty show.
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