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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has reflected on her time as a Victoria’s Secret Angel while revealing her belief that the lingerie company “missed the boat” with its rebranding attempts.
The 34-year-old, who recently revealed she is pregnant with her second child, discussed the brand’s controversial past and its recent attempts to overhaul its image during an interview with The Sunday Times.
Beginning in 1995, the company promoted its latest offerings with the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, during which the brand’s iconic Angels would walk the runway in lingerie and wings. However, in 2019, amid controversy and plummeting viewership, the brand announced that the fashion show had officially been cancelled.
In June 2021, Victoria’s Secret announced its latest bid to revamp its image, with the lingerie company introducing The VS Collective and revealing that it had replaced its Angels with ambassadors such as Megan Rapinoe and Priyanka Chopra.
At the time, the company’s chief executive Martin Waters said the change was about reestablishing Victoria’s Secret as an “advocate” for female empowerment.
According to Huntington-Whiteley, who walked in the fashion show for the final time in 2010, it had been a “different time” when she last worked for former employer.
“It was a different time and it’s crazy [to say that] because it was 11 years ago, which is not that long ago,” she said.
The supermodel, who was the fifth highest-paid model in the world in 2017 with an income of $9.5m according to Forbes, then revealed that she believes that the brand has been unsuccessful in its attempts to embrace the cultural shift that happened over the last few years.
“I do feel Victoria’s Secret really missed the boat with broadening themselves out in the past few years and really listening to the cultural shift of what people are looking for from their brand,” she told the outlet.
In addition to the decision to replace the brand’s Angels, Victoria’s Secret has also expanded its representation in recent years to include transgender and plus-size models - after the company’s former chief marketing officer Ed Razek was criticised for controversial comments he’d made about the casting of plus-size models and the inclusion of transgender models in the fashion shows.
Reflecting on the company’s latest attempts to rebrand, Waters previously told The New York Times: “When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond.
“We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
Huntington-Whiteley is not the only former Angel to speak out regarding the need for the lingerie brand to rebrand, as Heidi Klum previously said it was “about time”.
“About time, is all I can say. About time,” the supermodel, who was an Angel from 1999 to 2010, told The Sunday Project in July. “As a model, you go there, you are happy to have a job. When you are not the company, you do what you are told. But finally, looking at this now, I’m like, about time.”