- Victoria’s Secret launched a new gymwear collection this week, featuring leggings and sports bras.
- It’s part of the brand’s turnaround effort, during which it has also ditched its iconic Angels.
- Former staffers said the old management team refused to sell sports bras, which were deemed unsexy.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Victoria’s Secret launched a new collection of gymwear this week, signaling it wants to take on Lululmeon and cash in on a booming market that former staffers say it neglected for years.
It comprises a mix of leggings, sports bras, and other clothing in three different fits and fabrics. Victoria’s Secret said each fit is tailored to a specific activity: one for running errands, one for yoga, and one for high-intensity workouts.
Its “sweat” leggings, recommended for high-intensity sports, cost $60, while sports bras across the collection cost between $40 to $50.
The push into gymwear is a major shift in strategy for the lingerie giant, and is part of its turnaround effort under a new management team.
It ditched its iconic Angels earlier this year, saying they were no longer “culturally relevant.” At the time, it said that it would partner with activists and entrepreneurs for its new image.
In recent interviews with Insider, former longtime senior employees said that under the leadership of former L Brands CEO Les Wexner, and CMO Ed Razek, the company had missed key market opportunities – including athletic wear.
“If it wasn’t a push-your-boobs-up-to-your-chin bra, they didn’t want anything to do with it,” one woman who worked in a management role at Victoria’s Secret’s New York office for more than 12 years told Insider.
“To them, sweat is only sexy when you’re having sex,” she said of their refusal to sell sports bras.
This potentially cost the company market share as brands such as Lululemon and American Eagle’s Aerie grew in popularity. Victoria’s Secret’s market share dropped from 33% to 24% between 2016 and 2018.
The founder of Lululemon, Chip Wilson, revealed in his book about the story of Lululemon, “Little Black Stretch Pants,” that Victoria’s Secret once made an offer to buy his brand in the early 2000s.
“We were flattered, but it didn’t take us long to agree that wasn’t a direction we wanted to go,” he wrote in his book.