- Victoria’s Secret has been accused of failing to appeal to female shoppers in recent years, with some customers complaining on Facebook that its ads, which feature scantily dressed models, are targeted more towards men than women.
- Meanwhile, rival brand Aerie has doubled down on its efforts to promote female empowerment and is gaining market share.
- We’ve compiled a list of up-and-coming lingerie brands that could pose a threat to Victoria’s Secret.
Lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret has been accused of failing to appeal to its female shoppers with racy ad campaigns, relatively steep pricing, and rail-thin models.
In its parent company’s most recent earnings report, released last Wednesday, same-store sales were down by 6% at Victoria’s Secret stores.
Increasingly, brands such as American Eagle‘s body-positive underwear store, Aerie, have swooped in and taken market share away from Victoria’s Secret. Aerie has seen 11 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth; its same-store sales are up 23% so far in 2017 (fourth-quarter results have not yet been reported) and this is becoming a major concern for its main rival.
“Over the past few years, we believe the competitive landscape in lingerie (in constructed, un-constructed, and Sport) has evolved. In addition to players such as Aerie (AEO) who are offering a very clear brand proposition, new digitally-native entrants are entering the arena,” Cowen analyst Oliver Chen wrote in a note to investors Thursday.
Here are some of the hottest new companies and collections that could pose a threat to Victoria’s Secret:
American Eagle’s Aerie
American Eagle’s underwear brand, Aerie, has become one of the company’s biggest sweet spots. The underwear collection, which includes a limited selection of apparel and swimwear, is targeted at 15- to 25-year-olds and covers a breadth of sizes from XXS to XXL.
Aerie famously doesn’t Photoshop any of the images in its ads. In 2014, it swapped its airbrushed ads for unretouched photos and launched a body-positive campaign known as #AerieReal. This seems to be resonating well with customers as it has seen 11 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth.
Love by GapBody
Gap’s latest underwear collection, Love, is focused on “comfortable basics.”
It’s too early to judge how successful it is, as it just launched in February, but its ad campaign has been well-received online. One photo that showed a woman breastfeeding her baby went viral last week after being praised on Instagram.
“I have never shopped at Gap, but I will be purchasing something tonight! This is amazing!” one Instagram commenter wrote.
Online-only store True&Co, which launched in 2012, aims to make shopping for bras more straightforward with a quiz that asks shoppers a series of questions about their shape, how their bra currently fits, and what preferences they have.
From there, the store emails customers a selection of recommended bras, which they can try on at home and then return any that they don’t like.
The company was acquired in 2017 by PVH Corp., the parent company of brands such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, for an undisclosed amount.
Bras cost $US35 and come in a mix of styles including bralettes, t-shirt bras, push-up bras, and plunge bras.
“I wanted to create something more authentic for the modern woman, where she doesn’t have to choose between style and comfort. Victoria’s Secret is the mind-set of ‘How do I feel when a man looks at me?’ versus ‘How do I look when I’m feeling confident, comfortable and ready to take on the day?'” she said.
The company announced it had raised $US3 million in funding last Wednesday, which is reportedly being invested into opening stores. The company recently trialed a selection of pop-ups in the US.
Founded in 2013 by a former Google employee and her husband, ThirdLove is known for selling half-sizing in bras.
The process works in a similar way to True&Co., as customers complete an online quiz to find their perfect bra shape. Because of this, the company says it now has over75 million data points about breast shapes, bra sizes, and the most common fit issues that women face.
The startup has raised over $US13 million in venture funding.
J.Crew is also looking to cash in on the lingerie market. In February, the retailer launched its first underwear collection for both men and women.
The women’s lingerie costs between $US12.50 and $US36 for elegant variations of the bralette and underwear.
The store is making a concerted effort to grow its business and bring back customers after reporting weak sales in recent years. Same-store sales have been down at J.Crew for the past three years, dropping by8% in 2016following a10% decreasethe year before. In its most recent earnings report, in the third quarter of 2017, sales had dropped by12%. The company has not yet released its fourth-quarter results.
But in 2014, the company launched its own private-label collection, headed by former Victoria’s Secret designer Rania Abu-Eid. It costs between $US19 for a thong and $US94 for a structured bra.
The company now has five stores in the US.
Amazon’s Iris & Lilly — coming soon to the US
Amazon is already investing heavily in apparel. In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that the retail behemoth would be bringing its UK private-label lingerie brand, Iris & Lilly, to the US imminently. It has yet to launch in the US.
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