Victoria's Secret, which once defined sexy with its leggy supermodels prancing around in their bras and oversized angel wings, is being sold, its fortunes diminished as women increasingly look for styles that more realistically fit their body types. The company's owner, L Brands, said that the private-equity firm Sycamore Partners will buy 55% of Victoria's Secret for about $525 million. The Columbus, Ohio, company will keep the remaining 45% stake. After the sale, L Brands will be left with its Bath & Body Works chain and Victoria's Secret will become a private company, the AP reports. Les Wexner, who founded the company in 1963, will step down as chairman and CEO after the transaction is completed and become chairman emeritus. Wexner has been grappling with his own troubles, including questions over his ties to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on sex-trafficking charges.
Victoria's Secret lit up runways and clogged up the internet with its supermodels and an annual television special that mixed fashion, beauty and music. That glamour has faded and so have sales. “We believe the separation of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK into a privately held company provides the best path to restoring these businesses to their historic levels of profitability and growth,” Wexner said in a prepared statement. Sycamore faces big challenges to turn around the Victoria's Secret brand, which has struggled to keep up with competition. It has also failed to respond to changing tastes among women. Rivals like Adore Me and ThirdLove, which have sprouted up online and marketed themselves heavily on social media platforms like Instagram, have focused on fit and comfort while offering more options for different body types; American Eagle's Aerie lingerie chain partners with female activists. VS, meanwhile, has been accused of catering more to men than women. (The AP's full take is worth a read.)