ThirdLove Responds To That Victoria's Secret Interview

Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images.
We still have not heard the last of the fallout from the controversial statements Victoria's Secret's executive vice president of public relations Ed Razek (and chief marketing officer at L Brands, the lingerie's parent company) made during an interview with Vogue. Last week, in what could be a totally unrelated move, chief executive, Jan Singer, stepped down from her role at L Brands Inc.. But it was Razek who overshadowed the annual show's taping (featuring Adriana Lima's final walk) by admitting the brand was not looking to be especially diverse or inclusive. "We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]," Razek told Vogue earlier this month. "No one had any interest in it, still don’t."
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Razek said the show will isn't interested in casting curve or transgender models because "the show is a fantasy," adding that the production is a "42-minute entertainment special." Further, he argued that all this inclusivity talk was a way for competitors to be snarky. "They carp at us because we’re the leader," he told Vogue. "They don’t talk about each other. I accept that. I actually respect it. Cool. But we’re nobody’s third love." He continued: "We’re their first love. And Victoria’s Secret has been women’s first love from the beginning."
ThirdLove is founder and CEO Heidi Zak's size-inclusive lingerie label and she was appalled by Razek's comments, including his thinly veiled snipe at her brand. So much so that she took out an ad in the Sunday New York Times to air her grievances. "I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier," she wrote in the open letter. "How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements?"
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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

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She continued on, "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."
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"I felt like it was the right moment to publicly respond to Ed’s comments about ThirdLove directly and to demand more from Victoria’s Secret," Zak tells Refinery29. "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."
She continued: "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."
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