Guess co-owner resigns after claims of sexual harassment
Will this mark a change in the fashion industry?
The Me Too movement successfully derailed the corrupted immorality flooding the film industry. However, in fashion despite some brave voices like Cameron Russell’s Instagram sexual assault uncovering, and the male models that spoke out against photographer Bruce Weber, there has been little progress.
This week there was some victory when Guess co-founder Paul Marciano was forced to resign his position as the executive chair of his company.
The long-awaited decision comes after sexual harassment allegations against the mogul were brought forward.
Guess had a team investigate the allegations, and came to the conclusion that Marciano placed “himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise.”
The team had the vigorous task of analysing all available information, which included emails, millions of documents and around 40 interviews, to come to the conclusion that Marciano is responsible for disturbing acts of misconduct.
Kate Upton is one of the most public figures connected to the case, in February she brought the allegations to life by revealing Marciano had sexually harassed her on set.
In a Time magazine interview, she claimed that in a 2010 photo shoot he forcibly touched her breasts, kissed and groped her.
Kate described in the interview that “Despite doing everything I could physically to avoid his touch…he continued to touch me in very dominating and aggressive way, grabbing my thighs, my arms to pull me closer, my shoulders… my neck, my breasts, and smelling me.”
At the time Marciano denied Upton’s allegations claiming that he had never been alone with her or touched her inappropriately.
Since Upton’s interview, other women who have remained anonymous came forward with allegations against him, which inevitably forced the brand to conduct an investigation.
This may be a win for the Me Too movement, but it is hardly the beginning and the fashion industry needs to start making more groundbreaking changes.
It is also clear that Guess was motivated to investigate the claims to save face and appear as if hard work is being done to make amends. They would have been sensitive to the fact that if they ignored the issue, their brand could suffer financially.
For a brand that is famous for turning women into sex kittens and celebrating voluptuous Marilyn Monroe figures, Marciano's actions show how deeply the exploitation of women is embedded within the DNA of our systems and industries.
Our bodies have been used to sell, entice, give pleasure and submit to the male gaze, so maybe when people come forward and change starts being made we will be able to take back ownership and construct our own narratives.
This story is powerful because it proves change can be made and shows powerful men that there will be consequences for their actions. Hopefully, it inspires more people to take action and that these changes trickle down to shift the ideologies of smaller industries.
Words by Faye Couros
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