It's no secret that Victoria's Secret's has never had a transgender Angel wing it on the runway.
In a new interview with Vogue, Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret), defends the iconic brand's decision not to include trans models in its annual televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which taped Thursday at New York's Pier 94.
While acknowledging that other beauty companies have welcomed trans and gender-nonconforming models to their campaigns and runways, the 70-year-old exec would seemingly rather pretend trans people don't exist than be accused of pandering.
"Because the brand has a specific image, has a point of view," explains Razek, who helps choose models for each show. "It has a history. It’s hard to build a brand. It’s hard to build Vogue, Ralph Lauren, Apple, Starbucks. You have a brand position and you have a brand point of view. The girls who have earned their way into the show have worked for it."
"If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have," Razek adds, explaining why Victoria's Secret won't give into outside pressure to cast "transsexuals."
"No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is."
"I don’t think we can be all things to all customers," Razek continues. "It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store. I’m always asking myself: If we do that, what is the reason we did it? Why did we include that person? And did we include them to shut up a reporter? Did we include them because it was the right thing to do or because it was the politically correct thing to do?"
Victoria's Secret later issued an apology from Razek on social media: "My remark regarding the inclusion of trans models came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We've had transgender models come to castings... And like many others, they didn't make it... But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their their journey to embrace who they really are."
Laverne Cox, who attended the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show taping, tweeted her support of working trans models "rocking runways all over the world," including Isis King, Trace Lysette, and Andreja Pejić. "There are so many more that we don't know about and that we do," she wrote. "There always have been. Keep slaying ladies!"
Fans launched a popular petition in 2013 in an attempt to encourage Victoria's Secret to make RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Carmen Carrera the first trans Angel.
The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show airs December 2 on ABC.