Roy Raymond established Victoria's Secret in the San Francisco area during the 1970s. It is reported Roy wanted a cosy and inviting atmosphere for his store, and as a result it is thought, created the image of a Victorian boudoir. In 1982, he sold his catalogue operation and three stores to the Limited, now operating as Limited Brands.
In the early years, Victorias Secret imitated, or some might say, even faked a British cachet to the extent; it is reported, of giving the store a London address. This impression is born out of by an old ODP listing which you can view here.
Since it's beginning Victoria's Secret has seen an astonishing growth rate, with annual sales exceeding $3 billion by the late 1990s. A 1998 survey rated it the nation's ninth-most recognised brand and the company's name has grown to be synonymous with romantic and stylish lingerie.
A key component for the accomplishments of Victoria's Secret is the fact that the company has such a wide remit. Grace Nichols, described the company as "a lifestyle business-and a fashion business, an integral part of our customers lives. We offer our customers glamour, beauty, fashion, and a little bit of romance. We know what fits women physically and emotionally."
A Fact born out by the three distinct divisions of Victoria's Secret operations, namely;
The catalogue division promotes an exceptionally extensive range of underwear and related clothing, with subject books for each of the different clothing styles. The Country, City, and Swim editions all report on lingerie to wear with the appropriate outer clothes of the topic, while the Christmas Dreams & Fantasies Catalogue deals with underwear for special occasions. Quite literally, millions of women are familiar with the name Victoria's Secret, reinforced by the fact that over 390 million copies of their catalogue is distributed annually in the US alone.
Even though much of its success is due to the direct sales operation, there is also a vast range of stores owned by the company, currently over a 1,000 in the US alone. Victoria's Secret offers a constantly expanding choice of luxurious bras, panties, and accessories, with bras and panties alone, representing some twenty percent of the company's sales.
The design team have an incredible record of accomplishment. Bras in particular sell so well that it is believed Victoria's Secret endeavours to launch a new bra style every year. Amongst its unforgettable designs is the Million Dollar Miracle Bra, which Claudia Shiffer first modelled on the cover of their Christmas Dreams & Fantasies Catalogue.
An important component in the late nineties of the parent group was the Cacique brand, which had over 119 dedicated stores in the states alone and was the first to market its T-shirt bra, which quickly established itself as a global force. Charming Shoppes, Inc acquired the Cacique brand along with Lane Bryant in 2001 and Intimate Brands Inc, the parent company at the time, recombined with Limited Brands.
The astute marketing of Limited Brands, integrating its stores, direct
sales and beauty products into a 360-degree approach has made the most
of Victoria's Secret. Some say Victoria's Secret has won it's market-leading
position by virtue of aggressive promotion. Nevertheless, their striking
and romantic lingerie, and their remarkable sales record prove that women
are still looking for intimate underwear that promotes a feeling of sensuality,
well-being and worth.