Victoria’s Secret is an American lingerie brand. It is the number one lingerie specialist retailer in America. It was founded in 1977 by two businessmen Roy and Gaye Raymond.
Today it has more than 1,350 retail locations and 30,000 employees around the world.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is all about the brand touching on the latest styles.
A fast-fashion brand usually has extremely short turnaround times between when a style is debuted on the catwalk and when it is brought on the racks.
More often than not, a fast-fashion brand, in its race to cut down the production time, compromises the quality of the products.
Many times, these brands are also found guilty of poor employee treatment, inhumane working conditions, and environmentally-unsafe conditions.
Does Victoria’s Secret fall into fast fashion?
Unfortunately yes. Victoria’s Secret does fall into this category.
While its clothing is not exactly low-priced, it does focus more on fast production and replicating the latest trends in real-time.
It is working on speeding up its design and restocking process.
Its CEO said in a conference call, that its speed programs allow it to analyze the fashion trends on any given day and be back with the same trend within 15 to 25 days.
The CEO claimed that their company had taken 4 months out of the production process.
This means that Victoria’s Secret is well underway on the fast fashion track.
Is Victoria’s Secret a sustainable company?
For that, we must establish a criterion.
How to know if a brand is sustainable?
It can be several things including:
· Producing clothes in an environmental-friendly or eco-friendly way
· Free from animal products or vegan products
· Fairtrade and ethical products i.e. products manufactured by workers who are paid good wages and provided a safe working environment
· Transparency regarding its suppliers
· Certifications from any third party
Does Victoria’s secret tick against all these pointers?
Let’s read up about it in detail how Victoria’s Secret is hurting all those around it due to unethical business practices:
In 2017, Vitoria’s Secret fired more than 1,250 workers without their legally mandated severance. These workers sewed bras for the brand.
But international activists’ campaigning and workers protest finally led the brand to pay $8.3 million in severance. For the record, this was the largest case of severance theft ever at an individual garment factory!
Not only this, but in late 2020, a factory which makes clothes for Victoria’s Secret and other brands forced the Sri Lankan employees to come and work on the clothing orders.
The factory was located at the centre of Sri Lanka’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.
Here is another questionable business practice.
As per an Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report, Victoria’s Secret was one of the many brands that directly or indirectly benefited from the use of Uyghur labor outside Xinjiang, as recently as 2019.
And it doesn’t stop here.
Victoria’s Secret has also been found guilty of gender inequality.
When British companies were required to report their gender pay gap data or face a fine in case of inaction, Victoria’s Secret reported a median hourly rate gap of 19 per cent.
This happened even though women made up more than 90 per cent of each pay quartile at the company.
As far as safe working conditions are concerned, Victoria’s Secret has failed on that front too.
A Times investigation found widespread harassment of employees and models, from top management.
For decades, Ed Razek continued his inappropriate conduct.
One model claimed she was not hired anymore by Victoria’s Secret after she had rebuffed Mr Razek’s advances.
The founder and chief executive of L Brands, Leslie Wexner was made known about these incidents of harassment. However, sadly no action was taken, leaving the models and employees feeling vulnerable and unsafe.
The company did not dispute these claims made by the investigation and instead expressed ‘regret’.
Does Victoria’s Secret use sweatshops?
A sweatshop, as defined by the US Department of Labour is a factory that violates 2 or more labor laws.
Victoria’s Secret certainly has had its fair share of getting caught in the news regarding unsafe working conditions.
In 2015, it came in the news for being linked to child labor.
A report alleged that it used cotton in some of its products. The cotton was grown using child labor.
The cotton in question came from the West African nation of Burkina Faso.
Victoria’s Secret has also received a not-so-favorable rating of 21-30% by the Fashion transparency Index.
The brand hasn’t been transparent about its payment of living wage in the supply chain, safe working policies, or any actions it has taken to protect workers from the impacts of COVID-19.
All these incidents make us believe that it is better to shop from a local, sustainable lingerie brand than to shop from as controversial a brand as Victoria’s Secret.
We all can play our part in making the world a more sustainable and green place by shopping from businesses with ethical practices.