The Man Behind The Bras: Who Is Les Wexner, The 81-year-old Billionaire Owner Of Victoria's Secret?
By Sophie Wilkinson Posted on 8 Nov 2018
Last night we saw models such as Kendall Jenner, Stella Maxwell, Adriana Lima, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Duckie Thot and Winnie Harlow walk the runway at the 23rd Victoria’s Secret runway show in New York. We’ve heard the numbers behind these women’s successes - the size 0s, the 5-6 workouts a week, the 32-inch chests and the 24-inch waists and the billion-inch legs - and so now we’re going to tell you the maths behind the company’s 81-year-old billionaire owner.
1937 - this is the year Les Wexner was born, which was shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, when Franklin D Roosevelt was president and Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister over here in the UK.
1960 - this is the year that Les Wexner was 23 (the same age Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner are now). At the time, the most famous women in the world were the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Janet Leigh.
$1m - how much Wexner bought Victoria’s Secret for in 1982, when it was an ailing six-store lingerie company based in San Francisco that looked like a ‘Victorian brothel’
$11bn - how much Wexner’s company, L Brands, is valued at.
1988-1996 - the years when Wexner owned Abercrombie & Fitch, another successful US brand which features young half-naked bodies as its centrepiece.
96 metres - the length of Wexner’s superyacht, Limitless, which is worth $100m and weighs 643 tonnes and can sleep 10 guests.
2016 - the year Wexner took over as CEO.
15 - how many of the 24 months since Wexner became CEO in which like-for-like sales fell. Despite this, Wexner insists that traditional retail is the future and that Victoria’s Secret’s business model will win out: ‘The internet won’t kill stores,’ he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, ‘We’re in the process of bouncing back from that. I don’t think [online] is a new norm.’
0 - the time he has for the notion that, post-#MeToo, certain male bad behavior could in part be put down to the ways in which young women are objectifiedin fashion. When asked about this, he said ‘I think that’s just complete nonsense. If Lululemon is selling bum-hugging skintight yoga pants, it’s because that’s what women want to buy.’
3 - the hours men spend in Victoria’s Secret stores, which Wexner claims are very much made by and for women: ‘We see guys in our store for about three hours on Valentine’s day and the day before Christmas.
99.9% - the amount of women Wexner claims work in his stores: ‘The associates in the stores are 99.9 per cent women. The customers are women. The merchants in Victoria are all women. The business has been headed by a woman. The marketing director is a woman. These aren’t women that are exploitative’
93.05% - the proportion of women working for Victoria’s Secret UK, the British arm of the brand
19.4% - the median hourly gender pay gap at Victoria’s Secret UK
8008S - a huge focus of Wexner’s income is bras, and he understands why: ‘You wouldn’t have to be James Bond or Dick Tracy or the head of the FBI or a writer for the FT [who asked him a question about Victoria’s Secret focus on padded bras during a rare interview with the secretive boss] to know in the world that breast augmentation is a popular thing’ before adding ‘I don’t cross-dress.’ While he understands the foundation of bras is their functionality, he continued: ‘Then, when you get beyond that. Why lace? Why silk? Why push-up? Why these characteristics? It has something to do with the shape of the figure. Women want to project a figure.’
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