Victoria's Secret is the largest American retailer of lingerie and was founded by Roy Raymond in 1977. 2012 sales were $6.12 billion. The company sells lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products through its catalogs (sending out 375 million a year), website, and its U.S. stores. Victoria's Secret is wholly owned by publicly traded L Brands company. Victoria's Secret was founded by Tufts University and Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus Roy Raymond, and his wife Gaye, in San Francisco, California on June 12, 1977.
In the early 1980s, Victoria's Secret used FCB/Leber Katz Partners for the development of their brand, marketing, and advertising. In 1989, FCB/Leber Katz Partners and Victoria's Secret executed a national advertising campaign featuring for the first time in the company history a ten page glossy insert that appeared in the November issues of Elle, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Victoria, House Beautiful, Bon Appetit, New Woman, and People magazines. Victoria's Secret used the insert to announced their expansion into the toiletries and fragrance business. Up through to the ten page insert, Victoria's Secret growth had been driven by their catalog, sporadic ads in fashion publications, and word of mouth.
Beginning in 1995, Victoria's Secret began holding their annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which is broadcast on primetime American television. Starting with the 1995 fashion show they are "a combination of self-assured strutting for women and voyeuristic pleasures for men—and lingerie becomes mainstream entertainment. Ken Weil, vice president at Victoria's Secret, and Tim Plzak, responsible for IT at Victoria's Secret's parent company Intimate Brands, led Victoria's Secret's first ever online streaming of their fashion show in 1999. The 18 minutes webcast streamed February 2, 1999, was at the time the Internet's "biggest event" since inception. The 1999 webcast was reported as a failure by a number of newspapers on account of some user's inability to watch the show featuring Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Stephanie Seymour as a result of Victoria's Secret's technology falling short being able to meet the online user demand resulting in network congestion and users who could see the webcast receiving jerky frames. In all, the company's website saw over 1.5 million visits while the Broadcast.com's computer's were designed to handle between 250,000 and 500,000 simultaneous viewers. In total, 1.5 million viewers either attempted or viewed the webcast. The 1999 webcast served to create a database for Victoria's Secret of over 500,000 current and potential customers by requiring users to submit their contact details to view the webcast. The next spring Victoria's Secret avoided technical issues by partnering with Broadcast.com, America Online and Microsoft. The 2000 webcast attracted more than two million viewers.
The Angels started out as one of Victoria's Secret's lingerie lines. The models featured in the original advertising televised campaign in 1997 were Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Peštová, Stephanie Seymour, and Tyra Banks, with Yasmeen Ghauri being featured in print. In February 1998, the Angels made their runway debut at Victoria's Secret's 4th annual fashion show, with Chandra North filling in for Christensen. Due to their growing popularity, the brand used those models in several other advertising campaigns alongside Laetitia Casta and Inés Rivero, Christensen was the first to leave the brand. Nowadays, the term Angels refers to the brand's contracted spokeswomen, while the fashion show models are referred to as "Runway Angels". In 2004 due the Superbowl controversy, instead of a televised show, Victoria's Secret sent its 5 contract models on a tour called Angels Across America. The Angel line-up has been changed multiple times over the years, with one being officially released before each fashion show. The brand currently lists 8 supermodels on its website, and had a Facebook application in 2013-2014 highlighting the Angels (then including Miranda Kerr and Erin Heatherton) as well as Lais Ribeiro, Toni Garrn and Barbara Palvin. Among other recognitions, the Victoria's Secret Angels were chosen to be part of People magazine's annual "100 Most Beautiful People in the World" issue in 2007 and became the first trademark awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 13, 2007. Other notable spokesmodels for the brand have included: Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigová, Oluchi Onweagba, Jessica Stam, Ana Beatriz Barros, and Emanuela de Paula, as well as a handful of celebrities such as Taylor Momsen.
Victoria's Secret is known for its catalogs and its annual fashion show, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and has been credited with single-handedly transforming "America's conception of lingerie" by pioneering "sexy underwear as fashion and Lingerie mainstream entertainment." The societal manifestation is "the increased cultural acceptance of shopping for undies" in the United States. Victoria's Secret is credited with "transforming lingerie from a slightly embarrassing taboo into an accessible, even routine accessory." In 2006 The New York Times reported that traditional fashion was influenced by intimate apparel "in part because of the influence of Victoria's Secret and ubiquitous, sexually charged come-hither marketing.