Event Management

How Victoria’s Secret Reinvented the Fashion Show

Skift Take

There are very few fashion shows that are accessible to the masses but Victoria’s Secret have done just that. We analyse how they reinvented one of their main events to make their luxury products appeal to everyday people.

If you have ever shopped in Victoria’s Secret you will know that their lingerie are luxury items that you aren’t going to throw on under your pajamas and yet they have broad ranging brand appeal. They manage this by using their events to set themselves apart from the competition and as a result, they create an event experience that puts shoppers in the right mood and willing to pay steeper prices.

The iconic Victoria’s Secret fashion show has been instrumental in the business’s success and has drastically evolved since its small presentational start in New York in 1995, to the lavish televised affair that it is now. The aim of their fashion shows is to get people into the front door of their stores and it is obviously successful as they saw a $1.2 billion profit in 2015 which also rose in 2016. So, how exactly do they do that? Here are some of the ways Victoria’s Secret have set themselves apart from other events to reinvent the fashion show into what we see today.


Making a Performance

Having live, popular musicians and singers on stage during the show and interacting with the models on the runway adds an element of fun and creates an interesting stage presence that draws you in. Using performers that are current and appeal to the demographic is a unique way to bring the stage to life, rather than just having background music. The models interacting with others on stage takes the rigidity and “sales” aspect out of the clothing because you start to notice the model more than the product, which although seems to negate the point, it just works!

A great example of this was in 2011 when Maroon 5 front man, Adam Levine sung live while his, then, girlfriend Anna Vyalitsyna walked the runway and he joined her, surprising everyone by kissing her live on the close-up cam. Their interactions on stage created a love narrative outside of the clothes themselves which meant everyone was talking about it, increasing brand awareness. Images and videos were plastered over social media the following day which prominently featured Victoria’s Secret products and the show itself to get free publicity and everyone talking about it.

Utilizing Technology

Being one of the first televised fashion shows, Victoria’s Secret allowed others to see into the prestigious fashion world without having to spend fortunes to be there, which created appeal from the curious to the envious. By easily showcasing their fashion shows and performances they have managed to keep and gain popularity, which has more recently seen the introduction of live streaming. Making the fashion show more accessible via the internet and TV has not diluted the brand or products and has only created more of an “event” that people actively plan to sit and watch each year in the hopes of seeing what Victoria’s Secret will offer next.

Keeping up with technological advances has meant that Victoria’s Secret have recently introduced an app that not only allows you to watch videos from their channel and shows but also behind-the-scenes and sneak peeks of upcoming products. This creates a connection between the user and the brand that goes beyond the customer and creates more of a cultural relationship as they follow the models and organizers of the shows personally.

Creating Icons

Using models as icons started at the second fashion show in 1996 when Helena Christensen, Naomi Campbell and Stephanie Seymour walked together. Since then Victoria’s Secret Angels have become a prestigious accomplishment and as of now, every continent (except for Antarctica) are represented to show a wealth of diversity and to maximize their appeal.

The Angels represent the brand throughout the year, not just at the fashion shows to get the audience emotionally invested in their personalities. In many cases, models are selected based on their popularity and experience in current culture which was particularly the case when TV sensation, Kendall Jenner joined them in 2015.

Victoria’s Secret also use celebrity hosts and endorsements to boost the profile of the fashion show and increase the social media coverage. Using previous models, popular musicians and celebrity ambassadors it is a clever way to add additional publicity.


Smarter Budgets  

Big spending can go a long way towards making an event and it’s easy to assume that the show is a success due to its high budget and while it certainly helps, Victoria’s Secret didn’t always have the amount of funds available that it does now. For the 2016 fashion show, a reported $20 million was spent and that was including the “$3 million fantasy bra” modelled by Jasmine Tookes which is a far cry from the $120,000 budget available when it first started. The average price tag of other fashion shows are between $200,000 and $1 million. Victoria’s Secret have reported that the fashion show pays for itself five times over and they have been able to raise massive revenues over the years through:

Licensing – Recuperating some of its costs by licensing to CBS for around $1 million helps with televising and recouping some of the cost. 30 second ads are also reported to sell for around $200,000 during the hour long fashion show.  

Corporate Sponsorship – A large portion of funds are earned through corporate sponsorship of brands such as Swarovski or Fujifilm who reportedly pay over $25,000 for the privilege of providing products and swag bags backstage and to the attending media.

Show Sponsors – Larger sponsors are picked to collaborate with organizers and feature more prominently within the show and advertising, for example the 2016 fashion show was sponsored by Red Carpet Manicure and featured Elle, a celebrity manicurist personally creating looks for each of the models using their products.  

Strong Themes

Each show has various segments and themes that embody the products that they are selling for the year, which not only give clear branding but also make the shows more visually appealing and put together. The 2016 Victoria’s Secret fashion saw bold segments including ‘PINK Nation’, Mountain Romance, The Road Ahead, Dark Angel, Secret Angel and Bright Night Angel which had drastically different tones, lighting and pieces displayed while the 2011 show incorporated stunning underwater theme designs that incorporated Victoria’s Secret’s swimwear section.

Providing clear branding for each show individually allows the idea to live past just the runway, it opens up a range of event decorating options and promotes the aesthetics which further adds to the experience and product demand. Large props, glittered runways and large sliding doors have featured in the shows and incorporate the themes, with excellent attention to detail.

Current Social Media

An area that Victoria’s Secret excels in is social media. Aside from the extensive coverage in and around the shows which aim to draw people in, they use social media all year round to “keep in touch” with their brand followers. Doing this strengthens their brand awareness and keeps them at the forefront of your mind when thinking of luxury lingerie and it is clear that social media is a key tool in the Victoria’s Secret’s marketing mix.

Offering exclusive content on their channels which include Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, Victoria’s Secret makes itself accessible on various platforms and doesn’t just limit itself which is beneficial for its tech-savvy, young demographic.

YouTube Videos

Their YouTube channel caters to over 1 million subscribers and doesn’t just deal with product videos. They feature popular collaboration videos with artists such as Selena Gomez and Bruno Mars, which is a genius marketing tool as both were featured performers at their shows. In particular, Selena Gomez created a music video featuring the Angels lip syncing to the main song she performed on the 2015 runway which was viewed over 200,000 times and created a social media buzz of its own.


Their Instagram feed manages to find a unique line between product selling and behind-the-scenes value year round. Their 50 million followers can enjoy videos and snippets as well as sales and discounts as they post daily and keep up with promotions. Nearer the fashion show, all of their feeds are devoted to promoting the brands, sponsors, models and celebrity guests that will be attending in order to get it trending worldwide (as it caters to over 80 countries).

In Conclusion

You can’t argue that Victoria’s Secret are way above the rest when it comes to events and fashion shows. Their ability to combine popular culture, celebrities and luxury products to create an aesthetic that appeals and translates into shop sales is second to none and their fashion show events are a key part of their success, which is reflected in their growth, which is almost double of the 3% industry average. Combining their social media strategy with their role models, Victoria’s Secret stays current both technologically and with trends in their fashion shoes which helps to keep their brand in the forefront of everyone’s minds when it comes to fashion and lingerie.