File photo: Models Martha Hunt, from left, Lais Ribeiro, Josephine Skriver, Sara Sampaio, Stella Maxwell and Romee Strijd walk the runway during the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York. Picture: AP

London - Lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret has been accused of exploiting women after a bombshell investigation revealed a culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment at the company.

Campaigners have called on customers to boycott the firm after it was alleged executives turned a blind eye to problems despite a litany of complaints by staff.

Models claimed that ex-chief marketing officer Ed Razek, 71, would encourage them to sit on his lap or ask for phone numbers during casting sessions. He also allegedly made lewd and inappropriate comments about their bodies.

It is claimed American catwalk star Bella Hadid, 23, was told by Razek in 2018 to "forget the panties" as she was being measured for lingerie, according to the New York Times. Referring to her breasts, he reportedly questioned whether Hadid, 23, would be able to walk "down the runway with those perfect t*****s".

Victoria’s Secret, which generates worldwide sales of £5-billion a year, has launched the careers of several supermodels but has come under growing criticism in recent years over its overtly sexualised marketing. 

Billionaire owner Les Wexner has also been accused of ignoring disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s predatory behaviour.

Epstein managed the tycoon’s personal fortune. It was claimed the paedophile used his association to invite aspiring models to fake auditions, with at least two ending in assault.

The New York Times cites interviews with more than 30 current and former executives, models, and contractors. Wexner and Razek are accused of demeaning women on multiple occasions. The US newspaper reports the Victoria’s Secret HR department at one stage had a dossier containing more than a dozen allegations.

Wexner was reportedly asked at a meeting at the company’s Ohio headquarters what he thought about the retail industry embracing different body types. The tycoon is alleged to have answered: "Nobody goes to a plastic surgeon and says: 'Make me fat'." 

Casey Crowe Taylor, a former PR employee at the company, said: "This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing. And anyone who tried to do anything about it wasn’t just ignored – they were punished."

Daily Mail