Image Credit: Shutterstock
On the 13th of December, model and designer Owen Mooney bravely came forward in a TikTok video to claim that he had been sexually harassed by Alexander Wang in January 2017 at a New York City club. Since then, at least eight men and trans women have come forward with similar allegations, some accusing the 37-year-old American fashion designer of drugging and sexually assaulting them at parties and events.
Following posts by social media accounts ‘Shit Model Management’ and ‘Diet Prada’, the story has now been picked up by media outlets including Highsnobiety, the Business of Fashion and Hypebeast. The Model Alliance, a non-profit organisation that advocates to protect those in the industry, released a statement on Instagram. The statement supports the accusers, stating “Alexander Wang is an alleged sexual predator, many male models and trans models have come out and spoken about the alleged sexual abuse that Alexander Wang has inflicted upon them”. Wang released a statement furiously denying the claims, calling them “baseless and grotesquely false”.
Alexander Wang’s serial partygoer reputation has done little to help rebut the allegations. His label, founded in 2005 has often had associations with a party lifestyle, with his SS18 collection for instance featuring headbands adorned with the words ‘WANGOVER’ and ‘PARTY ANIMAL’. Furthermore, his decision to feature R.Kelly in his SS2017 campaign drew criticism for the allegations of sex crime which were surfacing against the rapper at the time.
The question now is, what will happen to Alexander Wang? These accusations are some of the most significant we’ve seen against a fashion designer in the ‘#MeToo’ era. No legal action has yet been taken against Wang, and the impact of these allegations may well depend on whether more accusers go public and provide evidence or their names to the conversation, as most have so far remained anonymous.
Legality aside, Wang will have to spend time addressing the issues and dealing with the PR fallout. The Instagram account for his company has already disabled comments from users. Additionally, according to tracking firm Ninjalitics, the account lost 25,000 followers between December 18th and December 29th.
Fashion has always been about word of mouth and Wang’s denial in his statement has not incurred any favours among fashion fans. Recent examples of others accused of sexual assault in the industry include photographer Mario Testino who although has lost work with big clients, still remains active working on smaller projects.
Wang’s case may also become a police matter, such as in the case of Terry Richardson. Since January 2018, the fashion photographer has been under investigation by the NYPD Special Victims Squad in relation to numerous sexual assault allegations.
The silence from fashion insiders and corporations has been deafening so far. The Business of Fashion reached out to four of Wang’s top retailers in the US: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Webster and Shopbop, all of whom either declined to comment or did not respond. While the future is uncertain regarding Alexander Wang amidst these accusations, it is clear that the fashion industry has not been vocal enough in support of the victims.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, please do not hesitate to reach out to the following resources for support:
SupportLine: 01708 765200
Rape Crisis England and Wales: 0808 802 9999
RAINN: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
Victim Connect: 855-4-VICTIM
More on CULTED
See also: DID FASHION REALLY SLOW DOWN IN 2020?