Category Archives: Contracts and Negotiations

Model Stereotypes

Fewer than 100 women in the world have the potential to be a Victoria’s Secret model. Prospective models face fierce competition and must meet specific requirements to become a Victoria’s Secret “angel.” But the few women that manage to overcome the harsh scrutiny often become some of the most well-known faces in the modeling industry and have long careers in one of fashion’s most elite companies.

Height, Measurements and Age Requirements

With height requirements starting at the high fashion rate of 5 feet 8 inches, a five-sixer like myself isn’t typically considered for Victoria’s Secret. However, for brands primarily selling lingerie, an hourglass figure is preferred. Models with a 34-inch bust, a 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips are the most desired and even a slight variation is acceptable if the model possesses other more desirable attributes, such as a beautiful face. Is there still a chance for me?

Take away a point for height, but add one for measurements and another for the right face, it seams I do still have a chance. However, age is still a major issue. Victoria’s Secret looks for models with longevity, so older models are typically not considered, unless they are already established in the fashion industry. Focusing on the younger side of the pendulum, new Victoria’s Secret models are between 18 and 22. I can pass for 22, I’m sure. If I had the pictures, or the energy to put into more photos that showed off my physic, I may be able to prove whether age really is an issue for this particular client. My dear 33 year old friend changed her Model Mayhem profile to 24 years old and she gets way more hits than she ever did before. I shall test this theory on Model Mayhem myself, in my own market, and report on it’s truth.


While appearing mainly in magazines, Victoria’s Secret models have the help of Photoshop. But on the runway, those models must be in top physical condition to strut the revealing lingerie in high heels and on live television. You don’t get smooth skin, a toned body, and glossy hair by doing nothing when you’re not in your 20’s anymore. These attributes are possible for an older model, however, they come at a higher price. Each person is allotted the same amount of time every day, and what we do with that time is a matter of priority. Work, school, family, and other dreams and aspirations come into play. It takes time to be physically active and eat healthy, and being in top physical shape in your 30’s means to sacrifice other important things, like family and work. Another point against me.

Still, the most important part of a Victoria’s Secret model’s appearance is her face. Full lips, a small nose, high cheekbones and chiseled features are common amongst the Victoria’s Secret models. But is that enough? After 6 weeks of training my body to fit the competition, and then trying to maintain a perfect body thereafter, I know for my own sanity and self esteem- the answer is no.


Necessary when becoming a Victoria’s Secret model is an agent. The two agencies that handle most of the Victoria’s Secret models are Elite Model Management and Ford Modeling Agency. Most Victoria’s Secret models are considered through the recommendation of their agent, whom negotiates their contracts for them. Since Victoria’s Secret will not work with a model who does not have an agent, getting your foot in the door will be a challenge. Any client with such specific requirements has their reasons, but it is my work to find the answers to why they have chosen these requirements, and how to evolve them.

For more on how to become a Victoria’s Secret model, visit



As a fashion model, there are more ways to get paid than just for your time. Bookings have specific fees, such as terms and usage rights, which can compensate for expenses and add up to more money in your pocket. Terms and usage rights can get very complicated, though. If it’s a photograph, you’ll need to consider things like how long they will be using the images, what they will be using the images for, if it’s print or digital, how many impressions will be made, etc. Terms might be if they will be paying for travel, or what your day rate is. For example, most models have at least a 2 hour minimum and are paid by the hour.


All these conditions need to be put in writing, which means negotiating with clients and drafting contracts. Years ago I googled “model management contracts” and a website called came up. It was my goldmine. They gave me the option of downloading individual model contracts, or all the artist contracts for not much more. I don’t know what I paid at the time but to me it was chump change after considering the time I’d spent hassling with trying to figure it out on my own. Having dealt with contracts before, I knew how to read them and what to look for. The contracts needed to be tailored to my agency needs and I made sure to read through them thoroughly, but as a precaution, you should always consult a lawyer if you don’t understand something.


Although simple enough, there are other options that may make more sense for you. The stock photography business has helped to simplify the purchase of photos for everyone because they let you pay a single rate for all of the fees, rights, and royalties associated with an image. Some stock photos are royalty-free, because most of the rights, fees and royalties are bought in a single, one-time purchase. Models can book their jobs the same way- one rate with all fees, rights, and royalties lumped into one sum.


Another option is having the client write up the contract. Often times they do have their own contracts, anyway, and will require you to use theirs. Keep in mind, just because they want you to use their’s, though, doesn’t mean you can’t use your own as well. A great way to use work with a client’s contract is with an addendum, which is an extension of a contract and a way to modify it to fit the needs of both parties. Again, one reason you may want to consult an attorney.




Understand that while modeling for Gucci or Prada would be ideal, it is unwise to start at this point. Most high-fashion does not pay because of it’s prestigious place in the industry. Most models trade this work out because looks good in their portfolio. To designers, this is no secret. Gucci and Prada pay well, but the competition is hot. A good way to look at it is the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of paid bookings are high-fashion and eighty percent  are commercial. Eighty percent of commercial bookings will be paid work and twenty percent of high-fashion bookings will be paid work. Commercial bookings pay a lower dollar amount than high-fashion but the bookings are more frequent. Is it more important for you to work to get paid or is it more important to add more photos to your portfolio (trade-for-print)?

If you’ve developed your portfolio book already, there’s no need for you to continue doing trade unless it’s for a well-known brand and you can get a tear from it. Abercrombie, for example, doesn’t pay their models because they know they have enough people that would be willing to do trade-for-print. Another benefit of TFP is if you have a full portfolio already, but it’s missing a particular look for a market you’re trying to break into. These two examples are great ways for you to receive the images you need and submit yourself to a target client.

Now, you won’t want to consider all paid bookings. What if a company is willing to pay you a fee but their product is intimate apparel? Are you prepared to model in your skivvies? If so, you’ll want to make sure they’re willing to pay a higher rate- your rate for that type of work.

Establish a minimum day and hourly rate that is worth your time. You’ll also want to increase this amount as your time gets more valuable- say, when you start getting a lot of paid bookings. Say you’re day rate is $200 for an 8 hour “day rate”. This would make your hourly rate $25. Most models-and agents- require a minimum number of paid hours in order to accept a booking. You may want require a client to book you for a minimum of 2-4 hours for it to be worth your time. Consider you’ll have to travel, make arrangements in your schedule, and cover expenses, for example. Know where you draw the line before negotiating so you don’t end up regretting it when you accept your next booking.

Exclusive vs Non-Exclusive Agency


If more than one agency sends you on the same audition and you get the job, then there becomes a discrepancy between who gets paid. For this reason, there are exclusive contracts. It makes things simpler if one agency has an exclusive contract and the other does not. If both have exclusive contracts, you could be obligated to pay both agencies. If both have non-exclusive contracts you could still be obligated to pay both. However, who caused you to get the job may be considered. 


If an agency signs all of their models exclusive, that can mean they either don’t sign that many models (less competition for you) and/or only sign those they know they can market (you’re more likely to get booked). The benefit you receive from this is the confidence the agent has in getting you booked because you’re more marketable for what their clients are looking for.


One reason an agent signs exclusive contracts is so that any work the model gets- whether they find it or not- they get a percentage. In an exclusive contract, if a model gets work on their own, they can still be legally required to pay their agent the percentage they are contractually obligated to. A non-exclusive contract will typically only require a model to pay their agent a fee when the agent is the procuring cause. To me, this is fair. 


  • If you have an exclusive contract with an agent, consider you may not be able to get work independently or from another agency, without paying that agent their fee.
  • Working with more than one agency can be a good thing in a smaller market because you increase your chances of getting work.
  • If you get booked for a job on your own, you can still be obligated to pay your exclusive agency. 


*Note that I say “may not” because I am not an attorney. Any legal concerns should be discussed with a licensed attorney.  Below is part of an example of a non-exclusive contract from