ThirdLove founder attacks Victoria's Secret in NYT: 'Stop telling women what makes them sexy'

ThirdLove co-CEO Heidi Zak wrote an open letter to its competitor, published in the Sunday, Nov. 28 edition of <em>the New York Times</em>. (Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
ThirdLove co-CEO Heidi Zak wrote an open letter to its competitor, published in the Sunday, Nov. 28 edition of the New York Times. (Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

The lingerie brand ThirdLove took out a full-page ad in the New York Times Sunday to vent about some comments from a brand that has been raising controversy over its persistent refusal to acknowledge that its customers come in every shape and size: Victoria’s Secret.

ThirdLove co-CEO Heidi Zak wrote a long open letter to her company’s competitor that was published in the Sunday, Nov. 28 edition of the New York Times. The letter responds to a recent interview in Vogue with Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands (the parent company of Victoria’s Secret), and the executive vice president of public relations at VS, Monica Mitro.

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“I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week,” Zak began her letter to VS, which proceeded to quote excerpts from the interview. “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t,” Razek told Vogue, quoting Razek. “It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” he also said.

“How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements?” Zak wrote in response to his claims.

“You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women,” Zak continued. “But at ThirdLove, we think beyond, as you said, a ‘42-minute entertainment special,’” she said, in a reference to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Zak pointed out that while the show may be a “fantasy,” ThirdLove lives in reality.

“Our reality is that women wear bras in real life as they go to work, breastfeed their children, play sports, care for ailing parents, and serve their country. Haven’t we moved beyond outdated ideas of femininity and gender roles?” she asked. “It’s time to stop telling women what makes them sexy — let us decide.”

Zak attacked the brand for “pretending certain sizes don’t exist,” which she promises ThirdLove doesn’t do. She wrote that she founded ThirdLove five years ago as a “better option,” the “antithesis of Victoria’s Secret.”

“We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking, it should be the norm,” she proclaimed.

“As you said Ed, ‘We’re nobody’s ThirdLove, we’re their first love.’ We are flattered for the mention, but let me be clear: we may not have been a woman’s first love but we will be her last,” she clapped back at his reference. “To all women everywhere, we see you, and we hear you. Your reality is enough,” she concluded.

The Vogue interview was published on the day Victoria’s Secret taped its fashion show. The interview addressed how the company has evolved and kept up with trends, and how it hasn’t, especially in relation to diversity and size inclusivity. The brand was panned for Razek’s comments specifically, prompting him to issue an apology. Razek chose to apologize only for his comment about not including transgender models in the show.

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