23 Jun

How Ethical Is Victoria’s Secret?

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Victoria’s Secret may be the largest American retailer of lingerie, but is the brand making moves to be more ethical or sustainable? This article is based on the Victoria’s Secret rating from January 2022.

Victoria’s not-so-secret failings

Victoria’s Secret was founded by Roy Raymond and his wife Gaye Raymond in San Francisco in 1977. It was their response to packaged underwear, which Raymond considered “ugly, floral-print nylon nightgowns”. Four decades later, Victoria’s Secret has become the largest American retailer of women’s lingerie thanks to its celebrated supermodels and a world-famous runway show. But how does the iconic brand impact the planet, people, and animals?

As Victoria’s Secret is ditching its Angels to focus on female empowerment, we can’t help but wonder—how ethical is Victoria’s Secret?

Environmental Impact

Victoria’s Secret has few eco-friendly materials in its collection, which is why its rating is ‘Not Good Enough’. We found no evidence the brand has a policy to minimise the impacts of microplastics or minimise textile waste when manufacturing its products. Victoria’s Secret, along with many other big-name brands, signed up to Greenpeace’s “Detox My Fashion” program back in 2011 and had set a deadline to eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2020. Unfortunately, 2020 has come and gone, and there is no evidence it met its target!

Labour Conditions

We also gave Victoria’s Secret’s labour conditions a ‘Not Good Enough’ rating. None of its supply chain is certified by labour standards, ensuring worker health and safety or other labour rights. The brand is also not very transparent, having received 21-30% in the Fashion Transparency Index. More importantly, we found no evidence the brand ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain or that it implements adequate policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.

Animal Welfare

Victoria’s Secret makes products that are generally free of animal materials except for silk, so it is not applicable to rate its impact on animals. Therefore, we calculate the overall rating from environment and labour scores only.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

So, is Victoria’s Secret ethical? Based on our own research, we gave the brand an overall rating of ‘Not Good Enough’. Replacing its iconic angels with new activists figureheads to drive change is good, but in the end, the brand has to do more, and do better for the planet, people, and animals, be more transparent, and start treating all its workers fairly.

Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

If you like lingerie and lacy underwear, the good news is that there are tons of ethical and sustainable underwear brands that are better for the planet, people, and animals than Victoria’s Secret! Here are a few of our favourites.

Good Swaps

Eco-friendly alternatives to Victoria’s Secret

Underprotection

Rated: Good
woman wearing sustainably made sleepwear by ethical brand Underprotection

Offers

A spotted silky night shirt by Underprotection.

Underprotection – Site-wide

Combining ethics with aesthetics, this Danish brand makes glamorous lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear you'll love. Up to 60% off side-wide. (Ends: 28 JAN)

Shop now

Underprotection is a Danish brand combining ethics and aesthetics, creating underwear, loungewear, and swimwear from lower-impact materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton. All of its packaging, paper, and polybags are either recycled or biodegradable, and it only works with certified factories as it believes “fair working conditions and fair wages are human rights”. Underprotection exists to celebrate women of all kinds, and its goal is to make them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible.

You can find the full range in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Underprotection.

Shop Underprotection @ Curate.

Shop Underprotection @ LVR Sustainable.

la fille d’O

Rated: Good
women wearing black mesh ethical bra by la fille d'o

la fille d’O (which translates to “the daughter of O”) is the voice of a generation. In 2003, designer Murielle Scherre created this lingerie brand with the vision of being a role model. The brand produces long-lasting products, adhering to the principles of slow fashion. It manufactures locally and also uses low-impact non-toxic dyes. The brand is gender and size-inclusive, with a size range of XS-10XL for every body.

See the rating.

Shop la fille d'O.

Knickey

Rated: Great
knickey sustainable underwear set

Made in a Fair Trade Certified factory, Knickey’s organic cotton underwear sets are some of the best in the sustainable market. Taking it a step further, the brand has also partnered with an NYC non-profit to recycle old undergarments, turning the fibres into insulation and rug pads. Sending in your old undies will not only help cut down on the amount of fibres that wind up in the landfill, but it’ll give you the freedom to buy new, eco-conscious sets. Find most items in sizes 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Knickey.

Naja

Rated: Good

Naja makes beautifully designed lingerie and helps educate and employ women through its Underwear for Hope program.

See the rating.

Shop Naja.

Editor's note

Feature image via Victoria's Secret, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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