Is Miranda Kerr in Hot Water for her Wonderbra Campaign?

Former Victoria's Secret Angel, Miranda Kerr, inked a new deal recently with Canada-based lingerie brand, Wonderbra. Over the past year, Kerr, who is 30, has become the newest face of H&M, and has also starred in campaigns for Mango, Swarovski, and Reebok. The Wonderbra contract, however, has primarily sparked our interested, as the model ended her contract with Victoria's Secret within the past year. While we wouldn't necessarily think of Victoria's Secret and Wonderbra to be classic rivals (namely because we associate Wonderbra with a more matronly image), they actually are in terms of products and in terms of regions of distribution, especially with Wonderbra obviously working to revamp its image. And we are not the only ones to say so; an array of other publications (think: Harper's Bazaar, the Telegraph, etc.) have noted the "rivalry" between the two brands. So, legally, after six years as a VS Angel, can Kerr just hang up her wings and less than a year later sign with a competitor?

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My initial reaction is a strong NO. While most employees are forced to sign non-compete clauses as part of their contracts, there doesn't appear to be one in play here ... yet, as Victoria's Secret hasn't slapped Wonderbra, or better yet, its parent company Hanes, with a lawsuit. But before I go any further, let's quickly address a few points: 1 - A non-compete clause is part of a contract in which the employee essentially agrees not to enter into or start a similar job (or company) in competition against the employer within a certain amount of time after the employee leaves the company. One to two years is usually considered a pretty reasonable time frame. 2 - In the US, however, unlike an array of other nations, most employees don't necessarily sign contracts, and so, non-compete clauses are usually not an issue. Employment here is largely on an "at will" basis, which means that an employee can be fired by an employer at any time, for any reason (or for no reason at all). Similarly, an employee is free to quit at any time, for any reason. 3 - Models are considered independent contractors NOT employees, and so, most are not traditionally subject to things like non-compete clauses. However, there are a few important exceptions ...

It is not uncommon for models to sign non-compete clauses with their management companies and agencies. This, in connection with classic breach of contract claims, is what leads to the model poaching lawsuits that we see from time to time. Also, it is not unheard of for big name models, such as Kerr, or models who appear in ad campaigns to sign exclusivity contracts, which often entail non-compete agreements. We've seen it with Italian design house Valentino and model Freja Beha Erichsen, who limited the number of shows she walked in at the beginning of her stint as the face of brand, and with countless other brands and their campaign models. Recent Sports Illustrated cover model Nina Agdal, who has been a spokesmodel and the face of American Eagle's lingerie and apparel collection, Aerie, for several seasons now, reportedly has a non-compete and exclusivity agreement with the teen-focused retailer, preventing her from starring in campaigns of its competitors.

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Thus, it would not be a stretch to assume that Kerr (picture above in Victoria's Secret) is subject to some constrains as a result of her Victoria's Secret contract, which ended this past April. Of her split with the brand, Kerr told publications last year: "I'm just not in a position to commit to a full contract at this time. It's three months at bare minimum." Three months seems like a pretty short contract duration and this may be the reason Kerr is apparently in the clear. A court may deem a one or two year non-compete clause stemming from a three month contract to be too restrictive, as the goal is not to prevent individuals from working altogether. (In terms of timing, courts often find non-compete clauses to be legally binding as long as the clause contains reasonable limitations as to the time period in which an employee of a company may not compete). But since few details about the VS Angels' actual contracts are available, we can only speculate.

As of now, neither Victoria's Secret nor its parent company, L Brands, has filed suit against Kerr or Wonderbra, and so, unless we hear more, we will assume all is good between the two brands. But more to come maybe ...