Victoria’s Secret is an American designer, manufacturer and marketer of women’s premium lingerie, womenswear and beauty products. With 2012 sales of $6.12 billion, it is the largest American retailer of women’s lingerie. Victoria’s Secret is wholly owned by L Brands, a publicly traded company.
Victoria’s Secret was founded by Roy Raymond, and his wife Gaye, in San Francisco, California, on June 12, 1977.
Eight years prior to founding Victoria’s Secret, Raymond was embarrassed when purchasing lingerie for his wife at a department store. Newsweek reported him looking back on the incident from the vantage of 1981: “When I tried to buy lingerie for my wife,” he recalls, “I was faced with racks of terry-cloth robes and ugly floral-print nylon nightgowns, and I always had the feeling the department store saleswomen thought I was an unwelcome intruder.”
During the 1970s and 1980s, most women in America purchased “dowdy”, “pragmatic”, “foundation garments” by Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Jockey in packs of three from department stores and saved “fancier items” for “special occasions” like honeymoons.“Lacy thongs and padded push-up bras” were niche products during this period found “alongside feathered boas and provocative pirate costumes at Frederick’s of Hollywood” outside of the mainstream product offerings available at department stores.
Raymond studied the lingerie market for eight years before borrowing $40,000 from his parents and $40,000 from a bank to establish Victoria’s Secret: a store in which men could feel comfortable buying lingerie. The company’s first store was located in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California.
Raymond picked the name “Victoria” to associate with the refinement of the Victorian era. The “Secret” was what was hidden underneath the clothes