Fashion Show Tumble Hides Victoria’s Secret’s China Troubles

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A Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show opened at the Mercedes-Benz Cultural Center on November 20 in Shanghai. During the performance, model Meng Xi tumbled on the catwalk. She wrote on her Weibo shortly after, “Sorry! But I will keep on walking the stage.”

The incident dominated most of the headlines related to the show. Tickets to this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show reportedly sold for 350,000 yuan on Taobao, but the brand’s official Weibo account waved it off as a rumor, noting that Victoria’s Secret relies on an invitation system.

Grey Trading Still Exists

While there were no official ticket sales for the Victoria’s Secret Show, tickets were being traded on the gray market. On November 20, AI Caijing asked several Taobao shops that claimed to be selling tickets and were told they could be purchased, but that “the channel is not open to everyone – only to large international companies.”

In 2016, QYER.com sold a package that included a VIP invitation letter to the show, a VIP invitation letter to the after party and a backstage tour for 175,000 yuan. It had two packages for sale. The Times also published article stating that the Victoria’s Secret show has been open to outsiders since 2014, with a price of about 102,000 yuan or 122,000 yuan, including the after party.

As for “how ordinary people can buy the tickets,” the WeChat official account Lu Xi Interview Notes consulted a foreign PR company. It found that tickets were often sold through intermediaries. The company gave a detailed guide to buying a ticket, including such details as “offer one’s passport for background check before October 8,” “obtain the ticket directly before the show via passport” and “so on.” The company would not say how intermediaries acquired tickets.

AI Caijing also confirmed with Taobao shop owners. Guests could use their passport to enter the Victoria’s Secret show, and that ID cards were also valid for some seats. On Taobao, Victoria’s Secret tickets cost 150,000 yuan in September, and were sold out at a price of 180,000 yuan by October 30. The price included a VIP ticket in first four rows and an after party ticket. On the day of November 20s, one single ticket for Victoria’s Secret was fired 180,000, excluding the subsequent After party.

The store owner said she had been selling tickets for several years, but this year’s ticket was more expensive. The ticket price for the same period last year was just over 100,000 yuan, while it roared up to 180,000 yuan. As for the rumor of tickets being sold for 350,000 yuan, she said, “Those were either scalpers who bought the tickets to raise the price or tickets that changed hands many times.”

As for the source of the ticket, she only said, “It’s hard to get VIP seating in the first four rows without a big company’s endorsement.” She gets different seats each year.

The cost of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is extremely high, and the parent company’s finances are not optimistic.

Even without scalpers and sellers, the average price of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show ticket exceeds 100,000 yuan, a price too high for most people.

Behind the high prices are high costs

Industry media reports said the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show cost about US $15 million, including model appearance fees, clothing, online media promotion and each year’s most high-profile Fantasy Bra. In 2016, the glittering underwear was designed by jewelry designer Eddie Borgo and worth US $3 million. The cost may continue to rise in 2017. Hxnews.com reported that this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show invited 61 “angels”, outnumbering past years.

The performance, although rich and impressive, was not satisfactory. The latest quarterly report of L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, showed its third-quarter sales were better, with net sales up by 1 percent to US $2.618 billion. But its net profits for the third quarter were €86 million, down by 29 percent from a year earlier. This was followed by a drop in its share prices to the lowest point in five years.

What is the outlook in China?

Previously, L Brands experienced a year of decline when it entered the Chinese market. At the beginning of this year, Victoria’s Secret opened three stores in Shanghai, Chengdu and Chongqing, and held a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai. In collaboration with Oppo, a domestic mobile phone brand, the show brought together seven Chinese angels among the 61 angels and invited Chinese singer Jane Zhang as performing guest.

The intention of Victoria’s Secret was very clear.

Can the popularity of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show turn into profits? Analysis says that Victoria’s Secret overemphasizes the show and neglects its product, which may damage the brand. Since Victoria’s Secret established its first stores in the Chinese market, it never adjusted its products for Asian customers. CBNweekly confirmed that Victoria’s Secret “never adjusted its bra or underwear sizes”. In September, the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine destroyed a batch of Victoria’s Secret underwear for exceeding the national formaldehyde limit.

This article originally appeared in AI Caijing and was translated by Pandaily.
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