Victoria Secret’s first transgender model has a powerful message for the fashion industry

Valentina Sampaio walking with a clutch in her hand

Valentina Sampaio issued a frank assessment of the fashion industry, breaking her silence after becoming the first trans woman to model for Victoria’s Secret.

The Brazil-born model sent shockwaves through the industry on August 1 when she revealed that she had been cast for the lingerie brand’s youth line VS Pink.

She became the first transgender woman to model for the company, which has long been criticised for its overly sexualised imagery of thin cis women.

“This represents a victory for society, not just the trans community but for all people who are currently underrepresented in fashion,” Sampaio told Elle on Monday (August 12).

“We are experiencing a moment, an evolution, and it is a positive one. Brands are finally learning and catching up to the importance of inclusivity and diversity.”

Sampaio declined to comment on the brand’s history of trans exclusion, but said that she hopes to “change the status quo not only in the fashion industry but also in society.”

“The world and the society are changing super fast, so I think that even fashion industry must follow these changes in order to satisfy the new customers demands,” she added.

Anti-trans Victoria’s Secret exec quits

Days after Sampaio’s casting was announced, the chief marketing officer who once said he would never hire a trans woman announced that he was stepping down.

Ed Razek made the infamous comments in a 2018 Vogue interview, saying that he wouldn’t hire a trans model for the brand’s once-illustrious fashion show because “it is a fantasy.”

“Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should,” he said.

Razek, who is widely credited as the driving force behind Victoria’s Secret’s hyper-sexualised aesthetic, later retracted his comments and corrected his choice of phrase.

Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No, I don’t think we should.

“To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show,” he said.

“We’ve had transgender models come to casting, and like many others, they didn’t make it.

“But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”

After the controversy, and amid falling ratings, it was announced that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show would no longer be televised.

On August 2, model Shanika Shaik told Australia’s Daily Telegraph that it had been cancelled entirely.