More than two decades after its debut, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is officially canceled.
L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer made the announcement on an earnings call Thursday, telling analysts the show, which first aired in 1995, “was a very important part of the brand building of this business and was an important aspect of the brand and a remarkable marketing achievement.”
Sources speaking to the New York Post said a modeling gig on the program once was considered “the ultimate achievement.” Since its premiere, supermodels from Naomi Campbell to Gisele Bundchen to Kendall Jenner have walked the famous runway.
Nevertheless, the show’s ratings took a dive last year, drawing only 3.3 million viewers, which was down from roughly 5 million the year before and 10.4 million in 2011.
Once a major pop culture spectacle, the annual special had become increasingly controversial on the feminist left. Les Wexner, CEO of parent company L Brands, also caught fire this year for his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, whom the executive described in July as his “personal money manager” more than a decade ago. The convicted sex offender was a trustee of Wexner’s charitable foundation as well, although the CEO denies any knowledge of Epstein’s wrongdoing.
Victoria’s Secret has struggled in recent years with declining sales. “As timing over the years shifted over the years in terms of the airing the fashion show, did we see specific material impact in terms of a short-term sales response to the airing of the fashion show? As a general matter, the answer to that question is no,” Burgdoerfer conceded on Thursday.