April 4, 2022

What Victoria’s Secret Can Learn from Abercrombie

Get in loser, we’re going shopping!

Nora and Scott take a trip to the mall and visit two millennial teen staples, Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria Secret. Journalist Jessica Goldstein tells us how Abercrombie made a comeback with the help of TikTok. Then, go behind the scenes at Victoria’s Secret, from the models to the company’s rebrand, with Vanessa Grigoriadis, writer, host and executive producer of “Fallen Angel.” 

Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
Director of Audio: Alan Haburchak
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer

Full transcript for this episode below. 


Scott Rogowsky: Nora, you grew up in The Mall Capital of America.

Nora Ali: Yes, in Minnesota. I grew up in The Mall of America.

Scott Rogowsky: In The Mall of America?

Nora Ali: In The Mall. Yes, I was born in The Mall of America. No, but in all seriousness, I spent a lot of time at malls and, yes, I did shop at Abercrombie, I did shop at Victoria's Secret because I was just trying to be cool and that's where the cool kids shopped. I was not cool, I was on the math team.

Nora Ali: Scott, what about you? What's your relationship with these mall brands? Are you a big VS shopper?

Scott Rogowsky: I definitely stepped into Victoria's Secret in the past couple of weeks. No, this is maybe 25 years ago. Abercrombie was definitely more of a haunt for me, even though I really did not enjoy my time there. I did not fit into the Abercrombie look. I just felt compelled to shop there because you had to do it, if you wanted to be a "cool kid." Which yes, you and I, I think we're definitely not.

Nora Ali: We are now, we were not back then.

Scott Rogowsky: Oh, yeah. The glow-up is real.

Nora Ali: No, but I think the big difference between Abercrombie and Victoria's Secret is that my friends and I all shop at Abercrombie now in our adult millennial lives, but have not even thought about really Victoria's Secret or shopping there in literally decades. And that is what we're talking about today, the tale of these two mall brands making a comeback, or at least trying to make a comeback. So first we're going to talk all about Abercrombie's comeback from journalist Jessica Goldstein, whose article for the Washington post is titled, "The teens who hated Abercrombie are the adults shopping there now—and they can't believe it either." And then we're going to learn about Victoria's Secret's attempted comeback from Vanessa Grigoriadis, the writer, host, and executive producer of Fallen Angel, a documentary podcast by Campside Media on rhe rise, fall and attempted rebrand of Victoria's Secret. From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers, and innovators who can tell us what it all means and why we should care. Now let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: Jessica, I put on all Abercrombie for this outfit, head to toe.

Jessica Goldstein: Oh, my God. Is it vintage Abercrombie from 2005? Or is this like the new Abercrombie?

Nora Ali: This is new Abercrombie, no logos. You wouldn't know it's Abercrombie, but I'm proud to be wearing it.

Jessica Goldstein: It's good stuff.

Scott Rogowsky: I've got my freight cargo shorts on, you can't see them, but trust me.

Nora Ali: Jessica, we loved your article about the rise, the fall, and then the rise of Abercrombie. So I guess let's start with some context from what Abercrombie used to be. So in 2006, that was peak Abercrombie market cap, about $5 billion. They were doing nearly $2 billion in annual sales, over 800 stores around the world. For those who didn't grow up with Ambercrombie and going to the mall, how would you describe the design of the stores? And the clothing at the time that Abercrombie had sold?

Jessica Goldstein: So the Abercrombie stores were designed, I think, to entice teenagers by enraging parents. It was objectively not a good shopping experience, but that's part of what made it cool. The stores were very dark, they were very heavily scented, there were absolutely no black articles of clothing anywhere to be found. The people who worked on the store floor at the time were referred to as brand representatives and they were not supposed to speak to shoppers unless shoppers approached them first because they were supposed to seem very standoffish and cool. And the clothes were all covered in logos. They were very beachy, preppy, loud. It was a lot of polo shirts, a lot of ribbed camisoles, things that you were supposed to layer, I assume to kind of trick you into buying two articles of clothing when one would do. And quite famously, they did not stock a full range of sizes. I think the largest size they sold in women's clothing was a 10. So there was messaging both explicit and implicit that if you did not adhere to a very rigid and narrow body, physical type, Abercrombie didn't care about you and did not want you in the store.

Scott Rogowsky: You're leaving out the loud music that was blasting throughout the store. What was the target audience at that time? And how did the CEO at the time even explicitly state what he was going for with his approach?

Jessica Goldstein: This is what is absolutely wild about the early 2000s, because we don't think of them as being that long ago but culturally we are talking about a completely different world. So at the time the CEO of Abercrombie who had come on in 1992 was this man named Mike Jeffries who was famously a very intense kind of odd guy who was always trying to make himself look like a teenager, so lot of Botox and fillers and whitening his teeth. But anyway, he gave this interview to Salon in 2006. Where he was asked questions about how limited the sizing was. I believe by then there were already conversations about how white the stores models were and brand representatives were. And he literally said, "We are making clothes for cool, popular people."

Nora Ali: And here's a clip of a reporter from Young Turks reading that controversial interview with Mike Jeffries.


Reporter: "Jeffries doesn't want larger people shopping in his store. He wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the cool kids."


Nora Ali: Really leaning into that. Just goes to show how different the times were back then, that you could say that as a CEO of a company and not get immediately canceled. Although of course there was backlash at the time. But in addition to being exclusionary in terms of sizing, financial status, you mentioned a lot of the store models were white. This went to the next level in that Abercrombie became infamous for its racial discrimination of employees and there was this $40 million class-action lawsuit in 2003. What exactly was that lawsuit about?

Jessica Goldstein: So the lawsuit was about the fact that Abercrombie was discriminating in its hiring practices by rejecting potential employees for not adhering to the Abercrombie look. And then on the rare occasion that they did hire a person of color, that person would likely be sent to work in the stock room or in the back of the store and not to work the sales floor.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. The Abercrombie look, a.k.a being white and buff and jacked and chiseled because they had those topless models standing century at the doors. I'll never forget that, too.

Jessica Goldstein: Yes. Every Christmas.

Scott Rogowsky: This was scarring. This was scarring for me going to The Westchester Mall, honestly. Because I was not one of the cool kids and it was explicitly for the cool kids and I felt very out of place. But after this collision of cultural forces, as you describe them, Abercrombie starts to crumble in the 2010s. Explain the downfall.

Jessica Goldstein: Yeah. It's wild too. That Abercrombie could have that downfall and then come back because just as you're talking about, it's a brand that brings up a lot of emotions for a lot of people. People's memories of Abercrombie are very intense and they bring up that feeling of not being popular enough, not being thin enough, not being cool enough. So it's amazing that it was able to come back. But you know what happens is first of all, it's hard to stay cool and popular for a long time. It's really hard once you are like the biggest name in town because teenagers tastes are fickle and styles change and Abercrombie at the time was not nimble enough to keep up with the fact that styles were changing. So logos used to be in, logos went out. It used to be a status thing to spend $98 on a ripped denim miniskirt that would unravel every time you washed it, until it ceased to exist. But H&M comes in, FOREVER 21 comes in, and people realize that they can spend like $5 on one skirt. They could get 15 skirts and cycle through them and it would still seem like a better use of their money, right, than buying an Abercrombie skirt. And that messaging that we were talking about, that Mike Jeffries attitude, people just rejected that. This whole mindset of, I have to change who I am to fit into the clothes completely did a 180 and it became like, "No, no, no. These clothes have to fit me, there's nothing wrong with me, my body is great, my skin tone is great, everything about me is great. You guys are the ones who are failing." And so Abercrombie just kind of goes off a cliff, not to mention they had really heavily invested in a physical retail presence. As you were saying before, they had like 800 stores around the world and a lot of those retail stores had very high rents and were wildly underperforming.

Nora Ali: All right, we're going to talk a little bit more about the comeback of Abercrombie following this downfall after a very quick break. More with Jessica when we come back. Jessica, the title of your article for Washington Post is called, "The teens who hated Abercrombie are the adults shopping there now—and they can't believe it either." As I said, I'm wearing head-to-toe Abercrombie. I have group chats with my friends and we text each other all the time about the new Abercrombie jeans we just bought. "Oh my gosh, we found jeans that fit us for the first time. And, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe it's Abercrombie.'" So I think it is true, we are kind of in shock that Abercrombie has come back in full force. But Abercrombie brought in businesswoman Fran Horowitz to try to save the brand in 2017. And you had written that one of her most important realizations was that Abercrombie needed to graduate from high school and target the young millennial. So those of us who did maybe feel excluded when we were growing up and visiting Abercrombie's at the mall, that's a target now. So why was that such an important pivot for the rebrand?

Jessica Goldstein: So Abercrombie and Hollister are under the same umbrella. They're owned by the same people. And so when Fran Horowitz first comes on to the Abercrombie & Fitch Company, her first assignment is actually working at Hollister. And what she realizes doing all this consumer research, and of course not her alone, but with her team, is that people don't even know the difference between these two stores. They seem totally redundant. So people don't even really know which one's for them and where to shop. So one of the early distinctions that she makes is, "Okay, Hollister is for teenagers, Hollister is for high school. And where does that leave Abercrombie? It's time to age Abercrombie up." And so the new kind of vision for Abercrombie is less like hot kid cutting class and more cool 20-, 30-something packing for a long weekend away somewhere. The one space that they don't seem to want to move into is clothing to wear to the office. But everything else that you would do in your twenties and thirties, whether that's hanging out with your friends, going to a party, going on a trip, going to a wedding, that's like the space that they're trying to be in now. And so some of the early work that Fran Horowitz and her team did was all this consumer outreach and they're like, "What do you want? What do you want that we're not doing?" One of the biggest changes they made is that under Mike Jeffries, they did not sell men's jeans with zipper flies. He just kind of had a thing about that. And men were like, "I'm begging you." [crosstalk]

Scott Rogowsky: I never wore button fly.

Jessica Goldstein: "We love these jeans for the love of God, give us a zipper." And so it's crazy how obvious some of this stuff is, but it's a real, give the people what they want.

Scott Rogowsky: The button fly. What a mistake. I refuse to kautau to Big Button. I've never done it, never will. You highlighted this plus-size influencer and her discovery of Abercrombie's jeans. It was this revelation, right? She couldn't believe that she's now wearing these jeans that they didn't even make in her size when she was in high school. Why was the jean such an important thing to focus on for Abercrombie? And their rebrand? And their comeback story?

Jessica Goldstein: I think part of the issue is that jeans are the item that can turn someone into a loyal customer. If you can find a place that sells jeans that you like, that you feel good in, that you think is at a reasonable price point for what you're getting, that's the thing that gets you in the store and keeps you there. So that's one of the reasons it's a priority. And another is I think they knew that it had been a big pain point for shoppers in the past. And so that's almost as if they're making amends, they're like, "What's the place that we really have to focus on first." And in a way, they arrived at a time in the jeans market where there was a bit of an opening because I think even people who were into fast fashion, they know that spending like $20 on a pair of jeans, the odds that you're getting something that feels like jeans and not leggings. You're just not going to get it. But then there's like this leap where all of a sudden you're going to like Rag & Bone or something and spending close to $200. So Abercrombie kind of gets into this middle space where they're able to charge about $100 for a pair of jeans. And then they just did all this market research and they looked into the things that we were talking about before with zipper flies, they looked into the fact that there are completely different ratios between that person's hips and their waist that affect how jeans will fit them. Again it seems so obvious, but they did the research into what exactly do people need to feel good in their clothes and they invested in that product. And I think they also didn't totally compromise on price point because that's about what the jeans used to cost before. But I think they trusted that if they built something that was worth what it cost, people would show up for it. I first heard about this Abercrombie resurgence just from my, For You page on TikTok. And seeing people say, "You're not going to believe this. I've tried on every pair of jeans." People sort of speaking hyperbolically, but saying, "It was triggering to me to even walk into the Abercrombie dressing room. I'm just as shocked as you are." But I think we're in a place as shoppers where we trust each other more than we trust the brand. And so the fact that you have all these people who are just regular people who are constantly doing these try-on hauls. It makes it more accessible to everybody, it kind of opens their minds to the possibility that, "Okay, this is something I can trust."

Nora Ali: I think Abercrombie does benefit from this overall feeling of nostalgia in that the jeans that I'm wearing for Abercrombie are flare jeans, which I never thought would come back in my lifetime, but here we are. And you even wrote that the stores now smell exactly the way you remember. I'm going to quote your article, because I love this quote. You said, "It smells like a hot upperclassman leaning up against your locker, toying with this Puka shell necklace, asking to borrow your algebra homework. It smells like popping the collar of not one but two polo shirts worn one on top of the other. It smells like a ripped mini skirt that costs $98." So do you think the nostalgia factor is something that Abercrombie is intentionally tapping into, because those of us who are millennials getting older, we want to remember those middle school days?

Jessica Goldstein: It's true. I think that they're trying to walk that line because they're trying to show in a way that Abercrombie, like all of us, did some things in the past that it's not particularly proud of, that could get you canceled today, that we would now find very cringey or embarrassing. But that in fact we are all capable of growth and change. I do think underneath it, that narrative is kind of moving to people. And I think that millennials have enough distance from our teen years to be able to be nostalgic about it in that sort of tongue-in-cheek way and not just feel like, "Oh God, this reminds me of not fitting in high school. This reminds me of a very tender time in my life, which had things about it that were good and bad." And what I love Fierce is everybody that I talked to at Abercrombie Corporate that I asked about the scent, because they thought about changing it and they're like, "People told us they loved it and we could not touch it and the only thing that we needed to do was change the bottle because the original Fierce bottle has just like a torso on it, it's just like a half-naked man." And people were like, "Hey, we really love this scent, but could you please give it to us in a bottle that is not embarrassing to have on the bathroom counter?" So now you can choose Torso Fierce or Torso-free Fierce.

Scott Rogowsky: Or Dad Bod Fierce. Let's put a Dad Bod on there.

Nora Ali: Oh, let's do that.

Jessica Goldstein: That's true creativity right there.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah.

Nora Ali: Well, Jessica, thank you for taking us on this trip down memory lane. Jessica Goldstein is a journalist whose recent article for the Washington Post is titled, "The teens who hated Abercrombie are the adults shopping there now—and they can't believe it either." We'll come back to Jessica later for Quizness Casual. And after the break, if Abercrombie is an example of a millennial mall brand that has made an amazing comeback, Victoria's Secret is an example of one that is struggling to find its identity as a lingerie brand built on hypersexualized, unrealistic body image. Vanessa Grigoriadis is the writer host and executive producer of Fallen Angel, a documentary podcast from Campside Media and she'll join us to share her reporting and what's next for the company. Stay with us.

Scott Rogowsky: Nice to have you here. Love your podcast.

Vanessa Grigoriadis: Thank you.

Nora Ali: The ups and downs, it's such a rollercoaster and it hasn't ended yet either.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. We want to hear what's going on currently. But take us back to the very beginning if you could. The very origin story of Victoria's Secret. Who is Victoria? What is her secret? How did this hell happen?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: So Victoria's Secret was created in San Francisco by a very nice man who was a serial entrepreneur. And so he thought it would be really cool to have a place where men could go to buy women lingerie. He didn't want to go to just your standard department store with all the beige crap that we all used to buy to put on under our clothes and try to find his wife some sexy lingerie made him uncomfortable, he probably didn't like talking to like the matronly shop clerks. And so he decided that he wanted to have this store and he called it Victoria's Secret. And lo and behold, the guy who owned The Limited, which was huge in the 80s, happened to swing by, see his shop, and he felt he wanted to create this thing on a global scale.

Nora Ali: Let's talk a little bit more about Victoria. So she was this fictional British noblewoman and she had a secret? How did that sort of play into the identity of the brand in the first place? And why did they decide to have this fictional character?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: I'm not really sure there was a real fictional Victoria in the original Victoria's Secret, meaning this store in San Francisco. But when Les Wexner who owned The Limited, who was from Ohio bought Victoria's Secret, he thought it would be like a good marketing sort of exercise to have this muse and talk within the company about a muse named Victoria who was a British woman and she was like 36 years old and she was married to a barrister and she was just very chic because I believe her mother had been French and thereby she was very into French lingerie so this is the woman that they would think of. The person who told me that story said that Les Wexner used to talk about how good the marketing was around Mickey Mouse. So that even though there's a huge sort of chain of people who are working on Mickey Mouse every day, everybody knows like Mickey Mouses ears have to be black, they're not green, they're not red. They have to be black.

Scott Rogowsky: It's interesting that you're talking about a company that was founded by men and then bought by another richer man. And it's all predicated on fierce female empowerment, right? That's how this is being portrayed. So all these men are coming up with these ideas of what this woman is and what women want and where they want to shop. And yet they're representing fierce female empowerment. How did Victoria's Secret feign the facade of that representation?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: Even though it was created by a man, they had like beautiful things at the beginning and beautiful stores that women would feel very comfortable in. So I think that once Les Wexner took it over, he thought of it more like, "This is going to be a lady's paradise. I'm going to do all these different things for women." But what he didn't really think about is, "I'm really going to just cater to one body type, I'm going to really just have this be about skinny women, I'm not going to have plus-size bras. I only want a specific sort of body in here." That's very much the body type that is embraced by the male gaze.

Nora Ali: So speaking of, sort of the body image that was perpetuated by the brand itself, you also talked to some models for your podcast, known as VS Angels. So starting with the definition there, what were the Victoria Secret Angels? And how did they play into the definition of what was desired by or for the Victoria secret customer?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: Well, I think the angels were supposed to be the earthly embodiment of the Victoria's Secret customer. You're supposed to think of them when you were buying the lingerie, even though most American women couldn't even fit a pinky in a lot of these thongs, right? They're cut so small. Honestly, that's why I never really shopped at Victoria's Secret because I was like, "I don't really fit in a lot of this stuff. It doesn't really like look right on me." But they were supposed to be the aspiration for the customer.

Nora Ali: Yeah. And these models had to go through these struggles and challenges to achieve those body ideals at the time. And you spoke with one former Victoria Secret Model named Bridget Malcolm. And she discussed her eating habits, workout regimen. Let's play a quick clip from that interview.


Bridget Malcolm: I was so hungry. I was so hungry. I was reliant on anti-anxiety medication to get through the night. I tried to work out here every single day, sometimes twice a day. I hadn't had a period in a very long time. My body wasn't working, I could barely even read a book. I didn't have a personality. I didn't feel present at all. I was not there.


Nora Ali: So based on that clip, Vanessa, were you surprised at the experiences of these models to achieve this high status of Victoria's Secret's Angels? Or was that just sort of the expectation at the time in the modeling industry?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: Well, I think that both of those things are true. I think the expectation and the modeling industry was that everybody being incredibly, incredibly skinny and incredibly, incredibly young. But Victoria's Secret even with that picked people who were also very skinny and over time, the women sort of got skinnier and skinnier even as the world changed. There's also a question if like Victoria's Secret as the leader, a very, very clear leader of the lingerie business, should have sort of taken it upon themselves to change those standards versus just saying, "Well, the rest of the culture does it so who cares?"

Nora Ali: And then there were allegations and stories of sexual misconduct and a general culture of misogyny internally at Victoria's Secret. In addition to Jeffrey Epstein being tied to the brand, how much more difficult will this make it for Victoria's Secret to bounce back?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: I think that the association with Jeffrey Epstein is really the big problem for them, more than the culture at actual Victoria's Secret. Because when you really look at it, it's not that many people who have spoken out about what was going on corporately there and that could change. But as of now, it's not that many people. So I think that the real issue you is that Les Wexner had a deep, close relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein managed his money, Jeffrey Epstein was present in Ohio where Wexner lived. They traveled together and there was just something unsettling about this incredibly famous pedophile being so close with this incredibly famous man who created the most famous lingerie in America that particularly also coincided with an era or created a desire among teenage girls to wear thongs and to wear more sexualized lingerie.

Nora Ali: As we alluded to, Victoria's Secret has been trying to rebrand and 2019 felt like a pretty important pivot point in that that's when Victoria's Secret canceled their show after their CMO said that trans and plus-size women do not exemplify the fantasy that Victoria's Secret is trying to sell. Why was that such a turning point for the company? And it did it just bring to light issues that had already been going on internally?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: I think the fashion show getting canceled just showed they didn't have their finger on the pulse anymore. They weren't strong enough to really say like, "Well, we're here. We're the NFL, we're like the Super Bowl, so no matter what happens to this company in terms of the stock price or the associations with Epstein, anything like that, we still are here to stay." I would have some questions about whether the fashion show will rise again and whether it'll just be a very different cast of models and it'll be a very diverse cast of models and kind of rip off the Rihanna show that she does. I would certainly be thinking about that if I was in charge of Victoria's Secret. But yeah, I think that was just probably a low point for them.

Scott Rogowsky: We're talking about the rebranding that has been happening at Abercrombie & Fitch in the same episode. And these two companies dovetail nicely in terms of trying to claw their way out of that hypersexualized fantasy world of beauty, ideals, and standards that the 90s and early 2000 had established doing it very successfully. We learned that there's a whole new generation, that's discovering the brand on TikTok, they added new lines, more inclusive sizes. They got rid of their topless models standing at the front of the store and did a whole rebrand of the design. Victoria's Secret is finally now starting to pivot in a similar way, you could argue much later and maybe too late. Where do you see that rebrand happening and working?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: I don't know. I don't think that your average American woman has that much idea about what's going on at Victoria's Secret. All of what, how deep the problems went, maybe even knows that Epstein is involved. I think what they know is these people over here will send me a bra that's more comfortable, that's cheaper, and they'll send it right to my house. So I think online bra sales are going to continue to sort of keep going. And I don't know, Victoria's Secret, so much of it is based on its sales, like three for one sale, blah, blah, blah. And a lot of that stuff people want to see it, like, "Oh, I want to see if I'm going to buy 10 bras right here. I would like to see what I'm actually buying because they're all on sale." So I think that they have a problem in sort of comfortability and that women don't really want pushup bras as much as they did before because they're just not comfortable. But I think that they are going to survive, I think they've really fought their way back from the dead. And I actually do think that they will survive and I think they're very wily and they're good PR players.

Nora Ali: Yeah. I think that's the crux of it, right? It's PR, it's leaning into the branding for Victoria's Secret. Whereas for Abercrombie, they maybe leaned away from branding into just better quality products where the jeans actually fit and it's real inclusive sizing.

Vanessa Grigoriadis: Yeah.

Nora Ali: But what do you think the moral of the story here is for Victoria's Secret, the rise and fall and rebrand? Whether it's about consumerism, capitalism, the patriarchy, the male gaze. From your podcast, from your investigations, what would you say the big moral is?

Vanessa Grigoriadis: I think the moral is that people sort of have to speak up and corporations have to take more responsibility when they're putting out images of women that are going to affect our daughters going forward and really think like, "What am I selling to the world? What am I putting in the world?" And the Angels really put in the world a bunch of supermodels who are genetically blessed, women who are like one in a million and then put them in competition with each other. And a lot of the women starved themselves as a result, they were working out constantly. And this was not only unnatural beauty standard of a model, this was a model pushing herself to an extreme that nobody should have to push themselves to. And I think there's likely no reparations for this, but models don't have a union, they're all contractors. But I think there's probably a lot of agents and people corporately and just sort of needed to not let this happen. And they did. And they all sort of knew what the girls, meaning the models, were going through.

Scott Rogowsky: Thanks for sharing the story of Victoria's Secret with us, Vanessa. And if you listeners want to get the real deal full version of it, check out Vanessa's documentary podcast from Campside Media called Fallen Angel. Now it's time for Quizness Casual, the Business Casual Quiz. And we're returning to our first guest, Jessica Goldstein, who will be today's contestant alongside Nora. Today's quiz is all about those old mall brands we know and love, or knew and loved. Qumero numero uno: What was Juicy Couture's first product: terry cloth backpacks, V-neck T-shirts, maternity jeans, or halter tops?

Nora Ali: Juicy. I love that maternity jeans is an option.

Jessica Goldstein: It seems sort of out of nowhere, but that's part of what's making me consider it. Although I would lean terry cloth, because that is their signature fabric.

Nora Ali: Right.

Jessica Goldstein: But who starts with a backpack?

Nora Ali: I don't know. What was the last one, Scott? Last option?

Scott Rogowsky: It's terry cloth backpacks, V-neck T-shirts, maternity jeans, or halter tops.

Nora Ali: Halter tops were huge back then. What does your gut tell you, Jessica?

Jessica Goldstein: Oh.

Nora Ali: The terry cloth bags?

Jessica Goldstein: I want to say now that you've said halter tops, that's the one that feels right to me. But I don't know.

Nora Ali: Okay. That's what my gut was telling me too. So both our guts are telling us now halter tops. So we're going to go with halter tops, Scott, locking it in.

Scott Rogowsky: Trusting your gut. You might want to check with your gastroenterologist and see what's happening in that gut. Because V-neck T-shirts happens to be the answer here. The one that none of you were entertaining. Although Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy did release a line of maternity jeans under the name Travis Jeans prior to their Juicy founding. So they pivoted in '94 to develop the perfect luxury V-neck shirt. That's what they did under the new labeled Juicy Couture. Okay.

Nora Ali: Okay. All right.

Scott Rogowsky: Little fun fact there.

Jessica Goldstein: We're just getting warmed up.

Scott Rogowsky: Just getting warmed up. These are tough. Q2. Who wore the most expensive lingerie set in the history of the Victoria's Secret fashion show? Gigi Hadid, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, or Miranda Kerr?

Nora Ali: Oh, okay.

Jessica Goldstein: I feel like it would be Gisele. That would just be my hunch.

Nora Ali: You feel like it would be Gisele?

Jessica Goldstein: Gisele or Heidi. It's got to be a super. No offense to the Hadid children.

Nora Ali: This is Victoria's Secret, but isn't Miranda Kerr one of the most famous Victoria Secret Models?

Jessica Goldstein: It's true.

Nora Ali: Did I make that up?

Jessica Goldstein: You did not make that up.

Nora Ali: So I would think they would put it on her, but as Scott knows, we always default to what the guest feels.

Jessica Goldstein: Oh, really? Oh my God. So much power.

Nora Ali: So much power. No pressure though.

Jessica Goldstein: Wow.

Nora Ali: What do you think?

Jessica Goldstein: Oh my God.

Nora Ali: So you think between Heidi and Gisele?

Jessica Goldstein: Yeah. Getting the first one wrong is really throwing me off here. Let's go with Gisele. Let's go with the single name, super.

Nora Ali: Doing it.

Jessica Goldstein: Okay.

Scott Rogowsky: Gisele?

Jessica Goldstein: Gisele.

Scott Rogowsky: Gisele, Mrs. Tom Brady, wore the $15 million lingerie set in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in the year 2000. It was the most expensive set, made up of more than 1,300 rubies and diamonds.

Jessica Goldstein: Just what every woman wants.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. Rubies and diamonds, weighing you down. How heavy was this lingerie set? I wonder. But look, the year 2000, that was Tom's rookie year.

Jessica Goldstein: She was still with Leo back then, right?

Scott Rogowsky: Was she? Huh?

Nora Ali: She was?

Scott Rogowsky: How old was she back then?

Nora Ali: I didn't know they were ever together.

Jessica Goldstein: Yeah, until she like turned 25. And then that's when you graduate from DiCaprio University.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah.

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.

Scott Rogowsky: Okay. Here it is. You're one for two. Nice work. Let's see if you can get two for three and win this outright. Which of the following stores is in 96% of all U.S. shopping walls? Claire's Ed Hardy, Spencer's or Hollister.

Jessica Goldstein: I want it to be Claire's.

Nora Ali: I thought it was Claire's. Is it not?

Jessica Goldstein: I think we should go with Claire's. If it's not Claire's, it should be Claire's.

Scott Rogowsky: The store formally known as Claire's Accessories grew by leaps and bounds in the 80s, into the 90s, even the 2000s with acquisitions making it the largest with 1,291 retail stores in the United States. 96% of all shopping malls, you're going to find a Claire's. Congratulations. You guys are right. Two for three, the big winners. And thank you so much for this great article on Abercrombie and really a trip down memory lane for me, down to the third floor of the Westchester Mall in White Plains by the food court.

Nora Ali: Jessica Goldstein, thank you so much for joining us today.

Jessica Goldstein: Thank you so much for having me.

Scott Rogowsky: We love hearing from our Business Casual listeners. So yeah, shout us out. Say what's up. Slide into our DMs. We don't mind, they're open. We're working on an upcoming episode about the business of beauty and the growing inclusiveness in the beauty industry. So what do you know about that? We want to hear your thoughts. Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Z casual pod, with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave us a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring and leave us an old-fashioned voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners old and new. Drop us a line and don't forget to leave your name and where you are calling or writing from so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual's produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production, sound design, and mixing by Daniel Marcus. Alan Haburchak is director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer's our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Marcus, The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get nasty with your podcasty. And we'd love it if you give us a great rating and a review or a tweet like we received from Justin Matthews, who said, "I listen to a lot of podcasts and the hosts I would most want to hang out with are Scott Rogowsky and Nora Ali from Biz Casual Pod, #nastywithyourpodcast." Thanks, Justin, for getting nasty with us.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it Business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it Casual.