Victoria’s Secret Hires Its First Transgender Model

By Ella Parsons

The supermodel line up for the Victoria’s Secret runway and advertising campaigns is always an exciting time for the fashion industry. From the regular favorites to the excited newbies, many are eager to know who will be gracing the catwalk or fronting their latest campaigns. 

This year many got a surprise when the designer lingerie brand announced that transgender model Valentina Sampaio would be included in their Pink campaign after last year’s blunder. 

A Change of Heart 

Last year, chief marketing officer, Ed Razek implied that Victoria Secret’s would never hire transgender or plus size models due to the brand presenting a fantasy world. He apologized after his remarks sparked an angry response only fueling people’s opinions that the show has become out of touch with modern society. 

However, this year the underwear brand seems to be changing their strategy with long standing angel, Shanina Shaik confirming that there will be no eagerly anticipated fashion show for 2019 that draws in millions of viewers. 

They have also hired their first transgender model, which has received praise from peers when Valentina posted behind the scenes images and videos to her Instagram account captioned “Never stop dreaming”. 

Approached via her Instagram account that has over 350k followers, Sampaio attended a casting with the brand and was later confirmed for the Pink campaign. 

Who Is Valentina Sampaio? 

If you are not familiar with the 22-year-old Brazilian model and actress, here are a few facts to get you up to speed on her career to date.

  • Her career began by walking in Sao Paulo Fashion Week. 
  • Valentino was then hired to feature in the L’Oreal and Balmain ad campaign back in 2017.
  • She has fronted many covers of well-known fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle. 
  • Sampaio has also featured inside the pages of Vanity Fair Italy and Marie Claire Brazil. 
  • Her work CV includes big names such as Philipp Plein, Moschino and Pollni to name just a few. 

She’s certainly making a name for herself ensuring that the fashion industry is becoming much more diverse and inclusive when it comes to hiring models.

Breaking Boundaries in the Industry

Victoria’s Secret has hired Valentina for their younger line recognized as the Pink line, which is the start of the brand choosing a more diverse route. The Brazilian model is no stranger to revolutionizing the modeling world becoming the first trans woman to front the cover of Vogue Paris two years ago in 2017 and just a year later featured in the Brazilian version. Sampaio sure knows how to make history and not let the limitations of the fashion industry be an issue to achieving dreams. 

Erio Zanon Valentino’s agent explains that Sampaio “is very happy for it and she hopes that it shall contribute to break barriers and to make a step to more inclusivity and representation for everybody.” 

Sampaio told ELLE magazine “This represents a victory for society, not just the trans community but for all people who are currently underrepresented in fashion. We are experiencing a moment, an evolution, and it s a positive one. Brands are finally learning and catching up to the importance of inclusivity and diversity.”

Is It Too Little Too Late?

Many are not convinced that the inclusion of Valentino Sampaio is the start of a change for the lingerie brand that has always opted for predictability where models are concerned. 

We are used to seeing the typical supermodel type strutting down the runway year after year refusing to change with the times and represent a diverse selection of models. Even the iconic Karlie Kloss hung up her wings after feeling that the image did not reflect who she is and the message she would like to send to young women about beauty. 

Therefore, it seems as though Victoria’s Secret is trying to salvage their reputation and cash flow after a disappointing year rather than a genuine move towards diversity. 

However, the amount of coverage that the story has received can only be a good thing for the fashion and modeling industry with more brands hiring trans models on a regular basis rather than as a current trend. 

We will just have to wait and see whether the brand continues to hire a diverse range of models in their next show to gauge their long-term intentions. 

What’s Next?

In one way or another, Victoria’s Secret has caused a stir in the industry due to employee’s inappropriate comments and their model choices in the past. The hiring of Brazilian trans model, Valentino Sampaio has shown a change in direction for the brand considering a more diverse and inclusive line up to past campaigns. 

However, some are not sure of their reasoning, which will only be discovered with time whether this is a money making trend or a true insight in how they plan to move forward. 

Ella Parsons is a Fashion Blogger & Stylist at UK Models. She expresses her love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling.

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