The models who wear Victoria’s Secret Angels wings do so because they are chosen out of the VS models to wear them. The wings on the VS models are similar to a ranking as only the top models and previous wing bearers are selected to wear the wings. This leads to “wing envy” because only about 1/3 of the VSFS models get to wear the wings.
But why does Victoria’s Secret use the wings? In 1997 Victoria’s Secret’s came out with a lingerie line which was called Angels. The top models of that time were the one selected for the campaigns. Well before the wings appeared in the VS Fashion Show, they appeared in a television commercial.
The line began to become increasingly popular, and the television commercial and ads sparked much interest with the customers. This increased popularity convinced Victoria’s Secret to include the wings on the Angels for the fashion show as well as the ad campaigns. Because the wings became so popular there is now just as much as a focus on the design of the wings as the lingerie and underwear. Albeit the wings are extremely elaborate.
from Answers by James Santiago on Quora via Quora.