Flagging Victoria's Secret announces new lingerie CEO

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 20 2018 08:02 AM

Model Adriana Lima presents a creation during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York City, New York, US, Nov. 8, 2018. Mike Segar, Reuters

NEW YORK -- US lingerie giant Victoria's Secret announced Monday that it had appointed John Mehas, a longstanding fashion businessman as new lingerie CEO, hoping to boost its ailing fortunes.

Mehas will take over in the New Year, replacing Jan Singer, who resigned with the brand under fire for slumping sales, idealized glamazonian femininity and reluctance to put larger and transgender models on the catwalk.

His appointment was announced as Victoria's Secret, the lingerie market leader in the United States, reported third-quarter results with a net loss of $42.8 million compared to net income of $86 million last year. 

"Our number one priority is improving performance," said chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner of parent company L Brands.

"Our new leaders are coming in with a fresh perspective and looking at everything... our marketing, brand positioning, internal talent, real estate portfolio and cost structure," he added.

"I am confident that, under John's leadership, Victoria's Secret Lingerie...will continue to be a powerhouse and will deliver products and experiences that resonate with women around the globe."

Mehas comes to Victoria's Secret from Tory Burch, where he is currently president. He previously led Club Monaco for 13 years as president and CEO. He has also worked at The Gap and Bloomingdales.

Singer had been on the job since September 2016. No reason has been publicly announced for her departure.

Earlier this month, Victoria's Secret marketing director Ed Razek provoked uproar on social media for telling Vogue that there was no need for transgender or plus-size models in this year's fashion show.

"No, I don't think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special," he said.

Razek subsequently issued a public apology. Victoria's Secret hired some of the world's most famous models and filmed their annual fashion show in New York on November 8. It will be aired globally next month. 

In the United States, it provoked ire for its uniform use of slender models at a time when US women feel increasingly empowered by the #MeToo movement and with lingerie brands that promote all shapes and sizes -- such as Rihanna's new Savage X Fenty line -- making inroads.

Heidi Zak, co-CEO of one such rival brand, ThirdLove, published an open letter in The New York Times saying she was "appalled" by Razek's "demeaning comments" in the Vogue interview.

"You market to men, and sell a male fantasy to women," she said.

"Women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country," she wrote.

"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."

© Agence France-Presse