Megan Rapinoe Leads the VS Collective in a Brand Partnership Entirely New to Female Athletes

The world is constantly changing. For many brands, they must adapt or fail. Victoria’s Secret is no exception. The clothing retailer known for its former lingerie fashion shows is partnering with soccer star Megan Rapinoe and six other high-profile women in the biggest rebrand in company history. This marks a significant milestone for a company that’s received backlash for its portrayal of women and lack of size-inclusive models.

Victoria’s Secret largest rebrand ever

Rapinoe will be part of a large shift in company culture as the lingerie giant looks to improve its brand. The company will be “overhauling its hypersexualized ‘angel’ image in favor of partnering with women who are known for their advocacy in gender equality, LGBTQ+ issues and body positively” writes Women’s Agenda.

The VS Collective includes two athletes: Rapinoe and skier Eileen Gu. Five others make up the team, including actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser, photographer Amanda de Cadenet, transgender model Valentina Sampaio, and Sudanese model Adut Akech.

The rebrand comes as an effort to turn the company around in what has been a disappointing few years. According to The New York Times, “The company’s share of the U.S. women’s underwear market dropped to 21% last year, from 32% in 2015.” Statista shows net sales dropping from $7.8 billion in 2016 to $5.4 billion in 2020. Sales fell during a time when athleisure sales skyrocketed as people sought comfort during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the rebrand, Victoria’s Secret is “considering bringing back a ‘reimagined’ version of its runway show” says BBC. In 2019, the company scrapped the hyper-sexualized runway show as part of the company-wide cultural shift.

The new members of the VS Collective

The group of athletes, artists, and models are diverse in not only their professions but their identities as well. Eileen Gu, the other athlete of the VS Collective, is a Chinese American freestyle skier. She’s won gold medals in several international events including the X-Games, Winter Youth Olympics, and the Freestyle World Ski Championships.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, an Indian actor, singer, and film producer, is one of India’s highest-paid and most popular entertainers. She has won a number of film awards including five Filmfare awards. Paloma Elsesser is a London-born plus-sized model who has graced the cover of Vogue. Photographer, author, and media personality Amanda De Cadenet is an outspoken advocate for equal rights. Fans might best know her for her work on talk shows, The Word and The Big Breakfast.

Adut Akech, a Sudanese refugee, is a mental wellness advocate and model seeking to empower individuality. British Vogue guest editor Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, selected Akech to appear on a cover. Valentina Sampaio, a transgender model and LGBTQ advocate, joined VS Collective to celebrate and advocate for all women.

How Megan Rapinoe fits into the VS Collective

Megan Rapinoe waves to fans before a game
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As Victoria’s Secret attempts to shift its image to be more inclusive, Rapinoe seems like a great choice. Rapinoe came out publicly as a lesbian in 2012 and continues to advocate for LGBTQ issues. In addition, her popularity and reach have risen dramatically with the help of her fiancée, WNBA star Sue Bird.

Between the two, the couple has an estimated net worth of over $10 million. With Rapinoe having a net worth of approximately $3 million, and Bird earning $7.5 million throughout her basketball career. With a strong social media presence, Rapinoe in partnership with Victoria’s Secret can help spread her message even further.

For Victoria’s Secret, they hope the rebrand can bring some of the customers they may have lost to more inclusive and empowering lingerie brands like Savage X Fenty by Rihanna.

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