How Rihanna's 'Savage X Fenty Show' shines a light on what ails Victoria's Secret

Rihanna’s ‘Savage X Fenty Show’ dropped on Amazon’s (AMZN) Prime video service — and the reviews could spell more trouble for struggling lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret (LB).

The singer’s show, which was filmed in New York City September 10th before making its Prime debut last Friday, featured a diverse group of models, A-list performances — and even Rihanna herself.

On social media, fans gushed over the show’s inclusivity — with some already comparing it to the recently-nixed Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The brand abruptly cancelled it after recent controversies, including a connection to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, and an executive’s comments about transgender models that sparked a furor.

Courtesy: @seyitaylor/Twitter
Courtesy: @seyitaylor/Twitter

To its credit, Victoria’s Secret is looking to turn things around.

Controversial CMO Ed Razek stepped down recently, the brand hired its first openly transgender model and it seems to have full support from its parent company. And at L Brands’ investor meeting earlier this month, Victoria’s Secret executives agreed that things need to change — with the head of its lingerie department promising an “evolution.”

“[Customers have] been very vocal about what [they’d] like to see from us in terms of inclusivity, #MeToo, rethinking the fashion show. We’re essentially in agreement at this,” he said.

Yet Rihanna’s fledgling career as a make-up and clothing mogul shows how upstarts are laying claim to territory Victoria’s Secret once owned indisputably. Meanwhile, the lingerie company, owned by L brands, saw quarterly sales fall once again in its latest reported period, slipping 7% from a year earlier. The stock is down roughly 25% year to date.

2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 8, 2018 at Pier 94 in New York City
2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on November 8, 2018 at Pier 94 in New York City

Victoria’s Secret knows the stakes are high. Brand changes already in the works will include hiring more diverse models, and, taking a cue from competitors like Aerie (AEO), which rely on untouched advertisements and body-positive campaigns to drive sales.

Still, investors are cautiously optimistic with many industry experts believing it might just be too little too late.

Former Victoria’s Secret model Nina Agdal previously told Yahoo Finance the brand “has a long way to go” before rebounding.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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