May 20, 2002
Is Less Risque Risky
For Victoria's Secret?
By SARAH ELLISON
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
In a busy Victoria's Secret store in New
York's SoHo, Amanda White, 27, picks up
a matching set of leopard-print bra and undies, a black negligee,
a turquoise lace bra and three simple cotton bras, in pale blue,
white and yellow. After about a half-hour in the fitting rooms,
she walks out of the store carrying three items: the simple cotton
"My boyfriend won't love these, but I need something I can
wear everyday," she says.
Victoria's Secret has more bad news for Ms. White's boyfriend.
The chain, which built its image as a sexy-lingerie retailer with expensive ad campaigns
featuring famous models, wants to include more basic, less-expensive styles of lingerie.
American women seem to prefer them.
The move carries risks, but has a clear business logic: A large majority of the bras sold at
Victoria's Secret fall into the so-called glamour category with lace or push-up features. But
between 70% to 80% of the total bra market in the U.S. still consists of what some women call
"workhorse" bras: simple styles that are comfortable and durable, analysts say.
Victoria's Secret, a unit of
Inc., Columbus, Ohio wants a larger "share of drawer" in
their customers' dressers, and hopes to grab a good chunk of the everyday market currently
dominated by other lingerie players such as
Corp.'s Hanes Her Way and Bali and
Corp.'s Vanity Fair and Lily of France. The company also faces new pressure from retailers
Inc. and J. Crew, who have their own lingerie lines. "Competition is everywhere,"
says Richard Jaffe, analyst with UBS Warburg in New York.
Same-store sales-growth rates have slowed in recent years for Victoria's Secret as it has reached