Karlie Kloss Says She Ended Her Contract with Victoria's Secret Because It Didn't 'Reflect' Who She Was
"I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist," Kloss told British Vogue in her new cover interview
For Karlie Kloss, being a Victoria’s Secret Angel didn’t align with her values when she decided to hang up her wings and end her contract with the lingerie giant in 2015.
In a new interview with British Vogue, the 26-year-old Project Runway host opens up about her decision to leave behind her lucrative contract with the company — famous for its yearly fashion show — while she was in the midst of studying feminist theory at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her enrollment in the program was a defining chapter for Kloss, who learned that she wanted to be a different role model for her fans and young girls looking up to her.
“The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret 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,” she told her Project Runway costar Elaine Welteroth in the cover interview.
Leaving behind her job with Victoria’s Secret was her way of putting her studies of feminist theory into action, and learning to practice what she advocated for.
“I think that was a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist,” she told the magazine. “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.”
Though she left in 2015, Kloss returned to the runway for the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and last year vouched for the company’s relevance in the new era of feminism and amid the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement.
“A show like Victoria’s Secret is so relevant in the world we live in today,” Kloss told The Telegraphin 2018. “There’s something really powerful about a woman who owns her sexuality and is in charge.”
“A show like this celebrates that and allows all of us to be the best versions of ourselves. Whether it’s wearing heels, make-up or a beautiful piece of lingerie — if you are in control and empowered by yourself, it’s sexy,” she added. “I personally love investing in a powerful scent or piece of lingerie, but I ensure it’s on my terms. I like to set a positive example, so would never be part of something I didn’t believe in.”
Making her own choices and embracing her feminism head-on also led her to launch Kode With Klossy in 2015, a nonprofit that hosts learning experiences to help girls pursue their passions and empower young women to become involved in tech.
Her evolution in the fashion industry and with her career was something that initially scared her, but looking back, she is proud of the decisions she’s made because of the place it’s brought her to now.
“I think I was fearful that I would lose a job or lose my position if I said I didn’t want to do something,” Kloss said. “But I did not lose out on jobs. If anything, the more I exercised the power of my voice, the more I earned respect from my peers.”
“And I earned more respect for myself,” she added. “Only now do I have the confidence to stand tall – all 6ft 2in of me – and know the power of my voice.”