For the first time in the lingerie company’s history, Victoria’s Secret has hired an openly transgender model for a catalog photo shoot. Valentina Sampaio, a 22-year-old Brazilian model, will be photographed for VS Pink, the company’s athletic line. The move comes not long after an executive made controversial remarks about transgender models walking during the brand’s annual fashion show.
Sampaio posted an image on Instagram with the caption, “Backstage click @vspink.” The post also featured several hashtags, including “#diversity.”
The post sparked a rumor that Sampaio had been hired by Victoria’s Secret. This was later confirmed by Sampaio’s agent, Erio Zanon.
Zanon, according to a report by the New York Times, stated that Sampaio “believes that this is a great opportunity to break barriers” in the world of fashion “and to contribute to a bigger representation for everybody.”
In a follow-up Instagram post, Sampaio wrote: “Never stop dreaming.”
Just last year, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, made controversial statements regarding casting transgender models in the company’s annual televised fashion show.
Razek stated during an interview with Vogue that “transsexual” models shouldn’t be featured “because the show is a fantasy.” He also claimed that plus-size models didn’t align with the brand and that the audience had “no interest” in seeing them on stage.
“I don’t think we can be all things to all customers,” he said during the interview. “It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store.”
Razek did apologize for his remarks, noting that they “came across as insensitive.” However, just days after Sampaio’s hiring, according to a report by the Guardian, Razek resigned.
Last week, it was also reported that the 2019 Victoria’s Secret fashion show would not air. While the television event has struggled with declining ratings, it isn’t clear why the decision was made.