L Brands announced Thursday that it has tapped former Spanx CEO and Nike executive Jan Singer to lead Victoria's Secret after longtime CEO Sharen Turney left abruptly in February. Singer will will report to L Brands CEO Les Wexner when she starts in September this year.
L Brands also announced that it has hired former Coach Inc. executive Greg Unis to run the Victoria’s Secret Beauty business.
In a call with analysts Thursday, the company confirmed that it is dropping the Victoria Secret's swimwear category and catalog amid broad organizational restructuring.
When Turney left in February, many wondered what would be next for the brand. Her tenure at Victoria's Secret had been impressive: since 2006 its sales increased more than 70% to $7.7 billion, and she was widely viewed as a possible successor to Wexner, who turns 79 this year.
Singer inherits a massive business, with Victoria's Secret controlling around 60% of the U.S. lingerie market. It also remains L Brands' biggest money maker, pulling in almost two-thirds of the retailer's revenue.
But as the athleisure trend that has transformed athletic gear into an all-around fashion choice begins to extended to underwear, comfort and fit is becoming as much a consideration as slinkiness. That’s opened the space to brands like Jockey and Lululemon, which are increasingly adding pretty touches to their well-fitting undergarment pieces.
And while Victoria’s Secret catalog (not to mention its annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show) has long featured the traditional thin-and-tall supermodel, those brands and others are actively running against that mindset. Plus-size apparel retailer Lane Bryant, for example, runs the “I’m no Angel” campaign to combat Victoria’s Secret's skinny-model “Angel” approach, and American Eagle Outfitters' Aerie brand has eschewed Photoshopping any images in its marketing materials, an approach it says has resonated with customers.
Then there are upstarts like Adore Me, whose brand development director has said it’s gunning for Victoria’s Secret, although the company is getting some pushback regarding its controversial “VIP” membership model. In any case, it will take some time for Victoria’s Secret and Singer to figure out where it fits in this evolving environment.