Victoria’s Secret is making yet another effort to diversify its portfolio with the acquisition of 10-year-old DTC underwear brand Adore Me.
The acquisition, which was announced Tuesday morning and includes a $400 million upfront payment, is the second M&A deal Victoria’s Secret has made, after taking an $18 million minority stake in Frankie’s Bikinis in March. In a press statement, Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters said Adore Me was an attractive acquisition target for its focus on technology.
In particular, Adore Me’s at-home try-before-you-buy service was highlighted, along with its subscription services and its 1.2 million regular customers.
“We have significantly grown our business over the past decade,and are excited to bring our technology, purchase experiences, inclusive assortment, brand and team to join the next phase of Victoria’s Secret’s growth,” said Morgan Hermand, founder and CEO of Adore Me, in an email. Executives from Victoria’s Secret were unavailable for comment.
Victoria’s Secret has faced mounting criticism in recent years, as its longstanding thin and sexy imagery clashed with more modern views of size inclusivity and diversity. Some of those criticisms even came from Adore Me itself.
In July, Adore Me’s vp of strategy, Ranjan Roy, spoke candidly with Glossy about some of Victoria’s Secret’s shortcomings in trying to rebrand its image, specifically calling out its messaging around inclusivity that wasn’t backed up with action.
“From the rebranding, they’re going all in and spending a lot of money and bringing in big names, but in kind of vague ways,” Roy told Glossy in July.
At the time, Roy was referring to Victoria’s Secret casting of soccer player Megan Rapinoe as a brand ambassador in 2021 but not featuring her in any programs or campaigns. Victoria’s Secret did eventually feature Rapinoe in a campaign for new cotton styles in September 2022.
While Victoria’s Secret remains the largest underwear brand in the country, with $6 billion in revenue in 2021, its loss of market share over the last few years has allowed major competitors like ThirdLove, Adore Me and Parade to flourish. Aerie is one of its largest rivals with more than $3 billion in revenue per year. Rising brands like the Gen-Z favorite Parade and ThirdLove, the latter of which acquired fellow DTC underwear brand Kit Undergarments in April, are gaining steam, too.
Adore Me’s biggest strength for Victoria’s Secret may be its long history of size inclusivity and sustainability. After years of bad press and a damning Hulu documentary over the summer, Victoria’s Secret has an image problem. Adore Me achieved B Corp status in September. Since its launch in 2012, it’s offered extended sizing, with bra sizes ranging from 30 to 46 bands and A-G cups and underwear in XS-4X.