Victoria’s Secret is an American retailer of women’s wear, lingerie and beauty products. It is the largest segment of publicly-traded Limited Brands with sales surpassing $5 billion USD and an operating income of $1 billion in 2006. Victoria’s Secret is known for its fashion shows, most notably the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and for its catalogs, both of which feature top fashion models.
Victoria’s Secret was started in San Francisco, California, in 1977 by Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus Roy Raymond, who felt embarrassed trying to purchase lingerie for his wife in a department store environment. He opened the first store at Stanford Shopping Center, and quickly followed it with a mail-order catalog and three other stores. The stores were meant to create a comfortable environment for men, with wood-paneled walls, Victorian details and helpful sales staff. Instead of racks of bras and panties in every size, there were single styles, paired together and mounted on the wall in frames. Men could browse for styles for women and sales staff would help estimate the appropriate size, pulling from inventory in the back rooms. In 1982, after five years of operations, Roy Raymond sold the company to The Limited. Raymond’s next business venture ended in bankruptcy. Raymond killed himself by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 1993.