The New York Times investigation centres around the recently-departed Ed Razek and the founder of the label’s parent company, Leslie Wexner
A new report describes an “entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment” at Victoria’s Secret, under the supervision of two men in particular: the executive Ed Razek – who finally left the brand in 2019 following multiple controversial comments – and Leslie Wexner, founder of the label’s parent company, L Brands.
As you might expect, the investigation from The New York Times is pretty damning. It cites instances of Razek trying to kiss models, asking them to sit on his lap, and touching one’s crotch in the run-up to the 2018 Victoria’s Secret show.
It also notes that Razek was the “subject of repeated complaints about inappropriate conduct”, which featured in the documents and court filings reviewed by the Times, alongside interviews with over 30 models, employees, and former and current executives.
Wexner doesn’t come out of the report looking much better, either. The billionaire chief executive was apparently alerted about Razek’s behaviour, but many of the women who reported it faced retaliation, with many claiming that he made Razek “invincible”.
Wexner was also accused of his own misogynistic behaviour, demeaning women and “laughing off” abuse.
Though Razek has denied all allegations in an email to the Times, Victoria’s Secret has been on the downturn in recent years, which could be partly attributed to the backlash it’s faced, as well as it almost comical (if it wasn’t so frustrating) inability to move with the times.
The 2018 VS show saw its lowest TV ratings ever, and last year’s was cancelled altogether.
Sales have also been declining, resulting in store closures and a 75% fall in L Brands shares since 2015. Six executives interviewed in the report say they tried to distance the brand from its “porny” image, but were rebuffed, or – in some cases – driven out of the company.