Victoria’s Secret, once known for its hyper-feminine and glamazon aesthetic, announced its first ever male celebrity model on Tuesday.
The company hired Darren Barnet, the star of the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, to front its athleisure line aimed at younger customers. Dubbed Pink, it offers a variety of gender-free offerings including hoodies, sweatpants and workout clothing.
The new campaign will also promote the importance of mental health, Victoria’s Secret said. “I know how it feels to not fit in, and how important it is to feel supported and accepted for who you are,” said Barnet in a statement.
The move is part of the underwear giant’s efforts to rehabilitate its brand, long accused of promoting unattainable beauty standards that cater to the male gaze and that negatively affect young people’s self esteem. Over the past few years, it’s nixed its famous televised fashion show, and diversified its model line-up. It also recently added models who are plus-size, transgender, and have Down Syndrome, a stark contrast to how former head Ed Razek once defined the brand.
The company, which spun off from L Brands last year to become a stand-alone public entity, is also reshuffling its business behind the scenes too. It recently hired a chief diversity officer and restructured its board so that 86% are now women and 43% are racially diverse. The brand, founded in 1977, launched its first ESG report this month.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the work that lies ahead of us, a transparent look into where we are today and a nod to where we’re headed,” Victoria’s Secret said.