Is #MeToo Being Ignored by the Fashion Industry? | Savoir Flair
Is #MeToo Being Ignored by the Fashion Industry?
by Grace Gordon 6-minute read November 24, 2018

It's #TimesUp for the fashion industry, which has ignored abuses by its most prominent figures for far too long. 


The fashion industry – which predominantly serves to dress and adorn women – has done a dismal job at protecting, respecting, and treating women as equals to their male counterparts, even in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. While many industries have worked diligently to establish new guidelines that safeguard women in the workplace, promote equal pay, and correct rampant behind-the-scenes abuse, the fashion industry has continued to look the other way as hundreds of stylists, photographers, designers, and brand executives have been accused of abhorrent behavior. In fact, some are still giving the culprits preferential treatment at Fashion Week, collaborating with them on projects, hiring them for photoshoots, and paying them excessive shareholder dividends.

What is happening?

It took Stefano Gabbana insulting a nation of over a billion people for Dolce & Gabbana to finally see repercussions for his horrendous behavior – behavior that he has gotten away with time and time again. Shall we count the ways? He insulted Miley Cyrus as “ignorant”, called Selena Gomez “ugly”, feuded openly with Elton John, and once suggested that sexual harassment is "not violence". Gabbana has paraded his arrogant and ignorant views proudly, and seems to feed on controversy – yet the brand has suffered no real consequences until recently. This pattern of ignoring allegations of abuse in the fashion industry is troublesome, especially in light of the fact that so many of the brands are enabling the abusers while purporting to be champions of women’s rights and feminism. No one gets a pass, no matter how much we like their products or their campaigns.

While accusations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination are appalling to confront – and our first instinct would be to call for the immediate dismissal of the accused – we still firmly believe in due process. However, due process cannot occur unless there is a platform for victims to come forward, to safely make their accusations, and to receive legal counsel in the matter. Hollywood, which has been a machine of misogyny for decades, saw it fit to provide victims with a safe, easy process for coming forward with the implementation of the #TimesUp legal fund. Where is the fashion industry’s version of this?

In fashion, the power structure is so imbalanced in favor of the alleged abusers that there have been very few repercussions when they are accused. In the case of photographers like Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Terry Richardson, and Bruce Weber – all of whom have been accused of sexual harassment by hundreds of models – many publications chose to quietly stop working with them, but no public shaming occurred. For the most part, their reputations remain intact as few outside the fashion industry have even heard of the scandals. To our horror, we learned that some of them are even still booking gigs.

In an industry so compelled by image – so obsessed with popularity, fame, and quid pro quos – the more social currency one possesses, the more immune they are to consequences. Sickeningly, that means that if you are famous enough, you can get away with anything, even in the era of #MeToo. Just so long as you work in fashion, you’ll be protected by the powers that be. What kind of message is that sending to younger generations who are witnessing the way fashion has handled all of the accusations of abuse and misconduct?

We think that this is patently wrong. Below is a list of the brands and people in the fashion industry dealing with legitimate accusations of abusive and/or inappropriate behavior, misconduct, sexual harassment, and gender/racial discrimination. The most important thing you can do about it is vote with your money, i.e. stop supporting them in any way. Enough is enough.


Dolce & Gabbana

In case you somehow missed the epic meltdown that occurred over the past week, Dolce & Gabbana is facing huge consequences in China as the result of a racist campaign, which was followed by a bitter attack on detractors by Gabbana himself via Instagram. Originally, the Italian brand released a problematic video of a young Chinese woman eating spaghetti with chopsticks while a condescending voiceover narrated the scene. Chinese consumers were wary of the tone and content, but instead of taking the video down and expressing remorse, Dolce & Gabbana dug in its heels.

Gabbana took to Instagram to insult the nation at large, calling the country of China “sh*t”, suggesting that all Chinese people eat dogs, and insulting them as “smelly” and “ignorant”. Really, none of this is fit to print, but these are actually things that he said. And they were all captured by @Diet_Prada and posted for the whole world to see. Gabbana then claimed that his account had been hacked, but only after he had posted the conversation to his Instagram Story himself.

The Chinese government immediately revoked the permit for the show that Dolce & Gabbana was staging, costing the brand millions of dollars. The country’s biggest brick-and-mortar and online retailers followed suit by removing their products from stock. This is one of the few cases we've seen where there have been real, mighty repercussions – but they were a long time coming.


Etro USA

Etro USA

The American arm of Italian luxury brand Etro has been accused by former employee Kim Weiner of “discriminatory animus, [which] has festered among the highest levels of management and plagued employees at Etro”. Weiner alleges that she personally witnessed employees being harassed based on their age, weight, race, and gender.

Some, she alleges, were targeted for harassment so severely as to experience “severe medical issues” as a result, while others were threatened with termination if they tried to report the harassment. She was fired when she stood up to the harassment, after which she filed a discrimination lawsuit with the state of New York in August.


Sir Philip Green of Topshop, Arcadia Group

Standing in the House of Lords, British Labour Party politician Lord Peter Hain made a shocking accusation. Exercising parliamentary privilege, he revealed that billionaire Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green was embroiled in a #MeToo scandal. Green stands accused by his employees of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and bullying. Strangely enough, it was Hain who faced criticism for revealing the identity of Green, who had sought an injunction to keep his name off the scandal.

However, Hain believed he owed it to the public to tell the truth about Green’s egregious behavior, which was backed by multiple employee accounts. One of the more damning consequences to Green’s actions came when Beyoncé swooped in and bought back all of her Ivy Park shares from Topshop, thus ending their business partnership for good.  


Ian Connor

Kylie Jenner wears his clothes. Raf Simons seats him in the front row. Virgil Abloh is a close personal friend. Major fashion magazines have dubbed him “Kanye West's new style muse”. But “It” kid and industry insider Ian Connor also has over 20 allegations of rape against him by over two dozen women. How the fashion industry has been able to look past the horrifying stories of so many young women – some as young as 16 years old – is symptomatic of the disease that has spread throughout an industry where people in power protect abusers rather than victims.


Paul Marciano of Guess

In a bombshell interview with TimeKate Upton revealed that she had been repeatedly groped and harassed by Guess Creative Director, Paul Marciano. After accusing him on Twitter, the supermodel spoke to the magazine about the assault she experienced, saying, “Despite doing everything I could physically do to avoid his touch throughout the meeting, he continued to touch me in a very dominating and aggressive way... At one point he forcibly grabbed the back of my head so that I could not move and started kissing my face and my neck. I remember not wanting to say 'Get off of me' because I didn’t want to open my mouth to say anything because I didn’t want him to be able to put his tongue in my mouth. I had two options: do everything I could to wiggle away and avoid his pursuit or punch the CEO of Guess. So I decided to just wiggle away.”

Marciano resigned from Guess following an internal probe, which additionally resulted in a settlement payment of $500,000 to five women who had also accused him of assault.

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