Jan Singer, CEO of Victoria Secret, has stepped down from her role just one week after the annual VS runway show. The move comes after a tenuous year at the lingerie company; during which it suffered declining sales figures and a backlash from customers over controversial comments made about transgender models.
The news was reported by US outlets The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times this morning.
Singer’s resignation comes just two years after becoming CEO, having previously been at the helm of other large-scale brands, including Spanx and Nike. Her resignation is the latest development in a string of controversies surrounding Victoria Secret; a brand which has suffered a loss of customers in recent years due to changing consumer attitudes.
Many women have turned away from the brand’s signature lingerie in favour of more “body-positive” alternatives. Many have also criticised Victoria Secret’s choice of models in their runway shows, which, although it has become more racially diverse, haa never included a plus-size model.
Tension surrounding the brand came to a head at their most recent runway show last week, when Ed Razek, chief marketing officer at L Brands, made some controversial comments during an interview with Vogue magazine. Razek was quoted as saying “transsexuals” should not be included as models on the Victoria Secret runway, because “the show is a fantasy”.
He also said that VS had attempted to do a television special for plus-sized models in 2000, but that “no one had any interest in it, still don’t”.
What’s more, Razek criticised Rihanna’s Fenty line of lingerie and its runway show, which was celebrated for its diversity and for featuring model Slick Woods who was heavily pregnant at the time (she went into labour after the show). He argued that Victoria Secret had done it first: “By the way, we’ve had three pregnant models walk the show… We watch this, we’re amused by it, but we don’t milk it. And all of these things that they’ve “invented,” we have done and continue to do.” Razek later issued an apology for his comments.
L Brands, Victoria Secret’s parent company, looks set to make a full statement about Jan Singer’s resignation on Monday, when it releases its quarterly earnings.