Victoria's Secret: Sure, Models Look Good But Here's What's Wrong

Victoria's Secret
Victoria's Secret

Post an image of scantily clad supermodels, like I'm doing here, or run a video of the same and you are virtually guaranteed to get air time. CNBC will never get tired of airing stories about Victoria's Secret and its iconic runway show.

Really, we get few opportunities to show really fun video on the business network and I do think that our male-dominated trading desk viewers appreciate the distraction of Heidi and Karolina parading down the runway. Anyhow, I digress.

CNBC aired segments of my interview with CEO Sharen Turney today as part of my story on how Limited Brands is banking on its support to bolster weak sales. Since spinning off its Express and Limited apparel brands, Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works are the main businesses.

Here's Wall Street's take on the problems: that VS was stuck with too much inventory that they were forced to markdown and that there are new competitors in the fashion undie space.

As a consumer of Victoria's Secret myself, I've got a few observations about what's going wrong:

--How many striped zebra bras does one need? Fashionable underwear are fun and adventurous but they're also supposed to be utilitarian. Having tiger stripes/crystals, etc on my bra shine through my shirt is not practical.

--Do you really want to pay $50-60 for naughty poorly-made undergarments that frankly you can only wear for short periods of time (if they are doing their job, that is)? Boutiques like La Perla and Agent Provacateur get away with charging hundreds for well-made, fashionable innerwear. Victoria' Secret needs to decide who its customer base is. Until they either go with budget products (with current quality levels) or go high end high quality, VS will keep losing marketshare to new entrants like JC Penney and American Eagle. The VS brand is strong and its quality needs to be.

--Customer service needs to improve.

Frankly, I buy from Victoria's Secret but would not say that I'm thrilled with the store experience. Sales people are lax and catalog shipments have been "majorly" delayed in recent months because of warehouse issues.

Anyhow, let me know what you think about VS. Write to me at

Questions? Comments?