Victoria’s Secret praised for runway return with trans models: ‘We belong on every runway’

Side by side images of TikTok star and model Emira D’Spain dressed in red outfits

Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is bringing back its runway show after a four-year break – and aims to be more inclusive by featuring trans and plus-size models. 

The show is best-known for showcasing a host of supermodels – including Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum and Gisele Bündchen – who were dubbed “angels” and sported dramatic wing ensembles on the runway.

In a bid to claw back its customer base after a drop in ratings in 2019, Victoria’s Secret will launch a “new version” of its show to reclaim “one of our best marketing and entertainment properties and turning it on its head to reflect who we are today”, its bosses said.

Trans models Valentina Sampaio and Emira D’Spain – the latter made history last year as the first Black trans model to work with the clothing and beauty retailer – will feature in the upcoming show, according to the Daily Star.

‘Seeing a trans model in the Victoria’s Secret show inspires me’

Trans comedian and model Stacy Cay told PinkNews it’s “imperative” for the show to include trans women in order to achieve inclusivity.

“Trans women thrive in high fashion shows and to not have any of us in the lineup is a choice. We are tall, we have fierce features, and we belong on every runway,” Cay said.

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“It’s been neat to see Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio in various Victoria’s Secret adverts, but it feels like they’re hiding her a little bit.

“I’ve never seen her in an advert in their physical stores, and I’m worried it’s to reduce backlash from showcasing a trans model. The average person would never know Valentina is trans, but I do and seeing her up there inspires me every time.”

Plus-size models Candice Huffine, Devyn Garcia and Paloma Elsesser will also make an appearance at the show, alongside Nigerian model Mayowa Nicholas, and Bella Hadid, Taylor Hill, Adut Akech and Imaan Hammam. 

Also set to feature in the line up is the brand’s first ambassador with Down’s syndrome, Sofia Jirau, who became a Victoria’s Secret model in February 2022. 

Other stars set to walk in the relaunched show include Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka. 

“I remember discussing how I never saw someone who looked like me,” Osaka said of her inclusion. “I thought it would be amazing to shift the view.”

Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Indian actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas and legendary queer football star Megan Rapinoe are also set to appear.

After facing years of criticism, Victoria’s Secret embraced inclusivity in 2020 with its “Body by Victoria” line. The campaign featured Sampaio, Huffine and Solange van Doorn.

Sampaio became the first-ever trans model to work with Victoria’s Secret when she shot a campaign for the lingerie brand’s Pink line in 2019.

Despite the brand’s good intentions to be inclusive, many are wondering how well it will fare against Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, which last year released a range of men’s lingerie that was loved by queers.

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