Why these Victoria’s Secret models quit the lingerie brand

"Time isn't being kind to Victoria's Secret," Bloomberg reported in July 2019. Two years earlier, the lingerie retailer started to experience a steep decline in sales and, as of this writing, has failed to bounce back. The brand's lack of diversity and inclusivity combined with its former affiliation with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein rightfully spelled trouble for the L Brands-owned company. "In the age of #MeToo and body positivity, the brand is increasingly out of step with today's consumer," Bloomberg summarized.

It's not surprising, then, that many of Victoria's Secret's models — yes, even "Angels" — have started to distance themselves from the brand. In 2015, an anonymous source told Page Six that "the money isn't what it used to be." Instead of making millions, Angels were reportedly being offered mere $100,000 contracts. These may be compelling reasons to part ways with the brand, but many of Victoria's Secret models have actually left for other reasons. This is why your favorite models have called it quits.

Gisele Bundchen's "inner voice" told her to quit Victoria's Secret

Gisele Bündchen may have retired from Victoria's Secret in 2007, but the supermodel continued to walk the runway for eight more years. So, why did she quit modeling for the lingerie retailer? Bündchen kept her reasons to herself until she published the book Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. In it, she writes, "For the first few years, I felt comfortable modeling in lingerie, but as time went on, I felt less and less at ease being photographed walking the runway wearing just a bikini or a thong." Although she loved the people at Victoria's Secret, she confessed, "As time passed, I felt more and more uncomfortable." 

When the brand offered the supermodel a two-year contract extension, Bündchen admitted to feeling conflicted. Although the company offered financial security, she knew she would have to keep living her life "on the company's terms." Ultimately, Bündchen listened to her "inner voice" and decided it was time to part ways with Victoria's Secret.

Heidi Klum left Victoria's Secret to focus on other pursuits

At the age of 37, Heidi Klum made the decision to leave Victoria's Secret. "All good things have to come to an end," she told Page Six at Paris Fashion Week back in 2010. "I will always love Victoria's Secret. It has been an absolutely amazing time."

Although Klum had been with the brand for over a decade when she decided to call it quits, she left during the company's heyday. But she doesn't appear to have any regrets. "I had an amazing time with them," the former supermodel told InStyle in 2017. "I worked with the company for over 14 years and we were an absolute amazing family, but it was time for me to move on." She may have left on good terms, but she told the publication that she wouldn't be interested in participating in any more Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows. She continued, saying, "I like to do my own thing, and I always have, so I don't think I will be walking anytime soon."

Kyile Bisutti became uncomfortable modeling for Victoria's Secret

Just one year after Heidi Klum left Victoria's Secret, another Angel — newly appointed Kylie Bisutti — decided it was time to hang up her wings. Her reason, however, was very different from Klum's. "I was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men," Bisutti detailed in an article for the New York Post. "It wasn't about modeling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat."

Bisutti came to this realization after a photographer encouraged her to pose in a way in which she didn't feel comfortable. "This is what Victoria's Secret models do," he told her, according to Bisutti. "This is why they hired you. If you want to be like Gisele, this is what you have to do."

Bisutti later announced on Twitter that she left Victoria's Secret to be "a Proverbs 31 wife." She explained, "Proverbs 31 talks about being a virtuous and capable wife that a husband can trust." After distancing herself from the lingerie retailer, Bisutti launched a Christian clothing label and penned the book I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model.

Miranda Kerr said goodbye to Victoria's Secret when her priorities changed

In 2013, Victoria's Secret and Miranda Kerr parted ways. At the time, rumors alleged that Kerr's "difficult reputation" was to blame. However, the former lingerie model told The Sydney Morning Herald that she was shocked to hear such reports. ”I'm sure anyone that has worked with me would agree that it's not true,” she revealed.

According to the Angel, she was the one who decided to leave Victoria's Secret. "This is a natural evolution," she told the publication. ”The thing is, I've been modeling since I was 13. I'm now entering a new phase in my life. I have felt this coming since my son was born and, after I became a mother, I realized I needed to prioritize my time." Further dispelling the myth that she was hard to work with, Kerr said she accepted Victoria's Secret invitation to walk in that year's fashion show.

Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton focused on her health

When Erin Heatherton walked the runway at the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, no one knew it would be her last. But not long after starring in the show, Heatherton severed ties with the company. In an interview with Time some three years later, the model finally divulged why.

"My last two Victoria's Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight," she admitted. "I look back like, 'Really?'" She said she focused on healthy eating and exercising multiple times a day, but to no avail. "I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me. And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat."

Instead, Heatherton decided to listen to her body and stop modeling for Victoria's Secret. She also took to Instagram to encourage other women to become "the truest versions of themselves."

Karlie Kloss quit Victoria's Secret to project a different image

When Karlie Kloss left Victoria's Secret in 2015, fans may have assumed it was to focus on school. In a way, that's true. Kloss divulged the full story when speaking to British Vogue in July 2019. "The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria's Secret," she said, "was I didn't feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful."

It was when Kloss was studying feminist theory at New York University's Gallatin School that she came to realize that she wanted to quit modeling for the lingerie label. She continued, telling the publication, "I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist, being able to make my own choices and my own narrative, whether through the companies I choose to work with, or through the image I put out to the world."

Victoria's Secret Angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley started her own business

"I've always been so aware that modeling is perhaps going to have a very short shelf life," then-31-year-old model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley revealed in an interview with Girlboss Radio (via Grazia). "I remember one of my first-ever agents saying to me, 'You know, you better save your money because you'll be done by the time you're 27.'"

Although she does think modeling can have a finite shelf life, she feels it can avoided if "you build out something for yourself." That's why Huntington-Whiteley decided to leave Victoria's Secret back in 2015 and start her own business and beauty site, Rose Inc. "For me, at the time, I saw an opportunity to build something for myself with my name on it and to be in the driver's seat of a business [where I could] work alongside people … that I'm working with instead of being the hire," she explained.

​Doutzen Kroes exited Victoria's Secret with only good things to say

In 2014, Doutzen Kroes retired from walking Victoria's Secret shows. "Victoria's Secret gave me a lot," the mother of two told Vogue during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Germany, "but I had to move on and do different things." After six years as an Angel and over 10 years as a model, Kroes said she formed an "extended family" and had "built amazing relationships" with her fellow Victoria's Secret models. At the time, Kroes had only positive things to say.

To The Telegraph, Kroes shared, "At one point in my life that show was my favourite time of the year," explaining, "You get so much attention, your ego is just 'wow,' you've worked so hard to look a certain way and you get so much credit for it." However, Kroes admitted that she had just four months to "get [her] body back" after the birth of her second child. "I was motivated to work twice as hard because I felt lucky to go back to modeling," she shared. "But looking back, I stopped [Victoria's Secret] at the perfect moment." Kroes still models, as of this writing, but does so selectively.

Victoria's Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio wanted to work on other projects

After Alessandra Ambrosio's 17th show in 2017, it was rumored that the Victoria's Secret Angel would be retiring. When People asked Ambrosio if the gossip was true, the model replied, "I don't know. I can't even believe that I'm here still." She continued, saying, "Never in my life would I dream of doing 17 shows…"

Although Ambrosio would neither confirm nor deny the reports when speaking to People in Shanghai, China, she later announced her retirement on Instagram. "Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have been working for this amazing brand that inspires me and women all over the world," she revealed in a caption. She continued, adding, "It gives me great pride to be part the Victoria's Secret movement!"

When Access Hollywood asked the Angel why she decided to retire, she said she had a lot of other projects — including movies — on her plate. "And it was time for me," she explained.

Adriana Lima quit Victoria's Secret to help support other women

Adriana Lima's departure from Victoria's Secret was an emotional one. After all, it's not often you see an Angel shedding tears on the catwalk (via Entertainment Tonight). Lima received a standing ovation from fans during her final runway walk at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2018. "Dear Victoria," Lima took to Instagram to say one month prior, "Thank you for showing me the world, sharing your secrets, and most importantly not just giving me wings but teaching me to fly." After modeling for the lingerie brand for nearly two decades, Lima's decision to leave Victoria's Secret was perhaps an eventuality, but it was still a surprise.

So why exactly did she decide it was time to hang up her wings? The longtime Angel told People that she was planning to shift gears. "I'm looking forward to [supporting] women and being connected to different projects which support women around the world," she explained.