Competitor ThirdLove has some choice words for Victoria’s Secret, and they aren’t pulling any punches.
“We’re done with pretending certain sizes don’t exist or aren’t important enough to serve,” says ThirdLove founder Heidi Zak in an open letter to Victoria’s Secret.
— Blair Imani (@BlairImani) 9 November 2018
In the interview, Razek fiercely defended the Victoria’s Secret brand on why they don’t include transgender or plus size models. He also took a shot at competitor ThirdLove: “We’re nobody’s third love. We’re their first love.”
A relatively young start-up, many people may not have heard of ThirdLove until the interview. But in a scathing response, ThirdLove founder Heidi Zak sent Victoria’s Secret an open letter via the front page of The New York Times.
View this post on Instagram
New York Times Sunday, full page letter from @heidi to @victoriassecret – Dear Victoria’s Secret, I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week. As hard as it is to believe, he said the following: “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements? You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a “42-minute entertainment special.” Your show may be a “fantasy” but we live in reality. Our reality is that women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country. Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles? It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide. We’re done with pretending certain sizes don’t exist or aren’t important enough to serve. And please stop insisting that inclusivity is a trend. I founded ThirdLove five years ago because it was time to create a better option. ThirdLove is the antithesis of Victoria’s Secret. We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking, it should be the norm. Let’s listen to women. Let’s respect their intelligence. Let’s exceed their expectations. Let women define themselves. As you said Ed, “We’re nobody’s ThirdLove, we’re their first love.” We are flattered for the mention, but let me be clear: we may not have been a woman’s first love but we will be her last. To all women everywhere, we see you, and we hear you. Your reality is enough. To each, her own. -Heidi @heidi
Zak opens her letter by calling attention to the “demeaning” comments Razek made to Vogue. She then goes on to say, “You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a ‘42-minute entertainment special.’ Your show may be a ‘fantasy’ but we live in reality.” And for ThirdLove, their reality is that women come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds.
In a statement sent to Voice of London, Zak said, “I felt like it was the right moment to respond to Ed’s comments about ThirdLove directly and to demand more from Victoria’s Secret. It’s the year 2018 and I believe women deserve to be treated and marketed to in a more authentic, realistic way. My hope is this year is the last one for the fashion show — that enough public pressure will be placed on VS to make some real and meaningful changes to their organization and to the messages they are sending to women everywhere.”
And ThirdLove’s response has had an impact. Twitter users have been echoing ThirdLove’s sentiments while also calling to #cancelVS.
I won’t go back to VS. I started purchasing your bras over a year ago and have been very pleased. I don’t need someone telling me what sexy is, thanks. I just want quality product from good people who listen—like @ThirdLove
— Jen📎 Wysokowski (@KnitterJen) 19 November 2018
Time’s up on this “fantasy.” “Sexy” should not be defined by a Victoria’s Secret exec. who believes that it only applies to a narrow segment of the population… may this public letter from @ThirdLove be the final pink nail. $lb 👋 @heidizaks pic.twitter.com/UILoiFG9fI
— Evelyn Rusli (@EvelynRusli) 18 November 2018
However it’s not just ThirdLove that’s had enough of Victoria’s Secret. Several notable transgender women have spoken up about Razek’s comments as well. American TV personality Carmen Carrera went to Twitter simply to ask Victoria’s Secret: “Why do you hate me so much?” YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous also took to Twitter to express her distaste.
Devastated (and also disgusted) seeing all the articles I woke up to today about @victoriassecret explaining why they don’t use transgender or plus size girls in their shows.. Even typing this a stupid JOKE. pic.twitter.com/pDpO66EoUD
— Gigi (@TheGigiGorgeous) 10 November 2018
Since the initial Vogue interview and ThirdLove’s response, Ed Razek has since apologised for his comments admitting that they “came across as insensitive.”
Please read this important message from Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer, L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret). pic.twitter.com/CW8BztmOaM
— Victoria’s Secret (@VictoriasSecret) 10 November 2018
Ultimately, it’s the consumer who will decide if they believe Razek. In 2018, it’s not uncommon for social media users to call for boycotts of certain brands.
Do you agree with the boycott? Or do you think Victoria’s Secret is free to do what they want with their brand? Let us know.
Words and featured image: Elise Fritts | Subbing: Claire Chung