Selling Sexy

Victoria’s Secret and the Unraveling of an American Icon

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Pub Date Oct 08 2024 | Archive Date Nov 08 2024
Henry Holt & Company | Henry Holt and Co.

Description

The story of how Victoria’s Secret skyrocketed from a tiny chain of boutiques to a retail phenomenon with more than $8 billion in annual sales at its peak—all while defining an impossible beauty standard for generations of American women—before the brand’s tight grip on the industry finally slipped

Victoria’s Secret is one of the most influential and polarizing brands to ever infiltrate the psyche of the American consumer. Almost right at its start in the late 1970s, the company developed a cult following for its glamorous catalogs. Back then, shoppers had few alternatives to the stodgy department stores that sold most of the nation’s intimate apparel. By 1982, the founders of Victoria’s Secret avoided bankruptcy by selling to Les Wexner, the fast-fashion pioneer behind the Limited, whose empire of mall brands would go on to dominate American retail for forty years.

Wexner turned Victoria’s Secret into a multibillion-dollar business, and the brand’s cultural influence soared thanks to its airbrushed advertisements and annual televised fashion show, which drew millions of viewers each year. Its supermodel spokeswomen, the sweet but sultry Angels, personified a new American beauty standard.

But as our definition of beauty expanded, Victoria’s Secret failed to evolve and reached a crisis point. Meanwhile, Wexner became increasingly known for his complicated relationship with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, his former financial adviser and confidant.

Selling Sexy expertly draws from sources within Victoria’s Secret and across the industry to examine the unprecedented rise of one of the most innovative brands in retail history—a brand that today, under new ownership, is desperately trying to seduce shoppers again.

The story of how Victoria’s Secret skyrocketed from a tiny chain of boutiques to a retail phenomenon with more than $8 billion in annual sales at its peak—all while defining an impossible beauty...


Advance Praise

"In elegant, tasteful prose, Lauren Sherman and Chantal Fernandez’s Selling Sexy tells the incredible story of the rise and fall of Les Wexner’s once-dominant retail juggernaut. Thanks to Sherman and Fernandez’s encyclopedic knowledge of the business of fashion, Wexner’s successes and failures are put into highly readable and essential context. You won’t be able to put the book down."

—William D. Cohan, author of The Last Tycoons and Power Failure

"This is the rare business book that examines the cultural impact of one of the most important brands of our time—and reads like a thriller."

—Marisa Meltzer, author of Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss's Glossier

"In elegant, tasteful prose, Lauren Sherman and Chantal Fernandez’s Selling Sexy tells the incredible story of the rise and fall of Les Wexner’s once-dominant retail juggernaut. Thanks to Sherman and...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250850966
PRICE $29.99 (USD)
PAGES 320

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