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After facing criticism for trying to maintain an outdated ideal, Victoria’s Secret has hired its first openly transgender model. We explore the insights behind this and why, as people demand greater inclusivity and representation, brands are being forced to either adapt or risk becoming irrelevant.

Victoria’s Secret has hired Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, an openly transgender model, in a first for the lingerie brand. The 22-year-old will feature in a catalog for VS Pink, the company’s athletic line. The hire comes at a time when Victoria’s Secret is increasingly under scrutiny for discriminating against models and shoppers that don’t meet certain standards. "I am really happy and proud to be part of this campaign and hope it could be a huge step toward more inclusivity and representation for everybody," says Sampaio, according to her manager Erio Zanon.

Victoria's secret trans model meets inclusivity demands Victoria's secret trans model meets inclusivity demands
Elia Fernandes (2019) ©

People are demanding diversity across sectors, and brands are listening. In fall 2018, 33 transgender women and non-binary models walked the runway during New York Fashion Week, and in spring 2019, Project Runway featured its first transgender model on the show. Chanel has hired a diversity and inclusion officer, and CTZN Cosmetics launched a 25-shade range of nude lipsticks. And with talk of Victoria’s Secret’s irrelevance in the #MeToo era, the brand has also begun to create changes, such as deciding to cancel its famous runway show in a bid to shake off its reputation as out of touch and non-inclusive. With cancel culture running rampant, brands can no longer sit on change: people want action. And with the addition of Sampaio, Victoria’s Secret is finally taking the opportunity to evolve with the times and join the ranks of inclusive brands like Savage x Fenty, ThirdLove, and Aerie.

Hannah Septoff is a member of Canvas8’s editorial team and has a degree in social anthropology and politics from The University of Edinburgh. She’s passionate about the intricacies of human gender, sexuality and love and when not at work can be found on the rugby pitch or eating hummus.


13 Aug 19
2 min read

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