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Recent Allegations Of Sexual Assault In The Fashion Industry Prove #MeToo Is Still Forgetting Some Victims

The silence of fashion's most powerful voices is deafening to #MeToo's latest victims

When cries of the #MeToo movement began back in 2017, sparked by accusations of sexual harassment and abuse against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, it was Hollywood’s biggest names that were among its loudest supporters. 

The worldwide reckoning was further fuelled when actress Alyssa Milano asked other women to come forward with the simple words ‘Me Too’, in support of Rose McGowan’s allegations. “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” she wrote at the time. 

The post was met with overwhelming numbers. Celebrities including Lady Gaga, Debra Messing and Evan Rachel Wood were among the first to add their voices to the movement, while some of the most prestigious award shows of the season—from the Academy Awards to the Golden Globes—saw colourful gowns traded in for black designs, a symbol of solidarity with victims around the world. 

Four years on, a string of sexual misconduct allegations have been put forward against some of the fashion industry’s biggest names—most recently, designer Alexander Wang. But while social media has continued to call out those in the fashion world accused of inappropriate behaviour, many who were frequently vocal throughout the Weinstein trials have gone mute—which, has not gone unnoticed. 

Many are beginning to ask: where are those voices now? 

On December 29, 2020, a post first shared by Shit Model Mgmt and fashion watchdog Diet Prada, accused Wang of sexually assaulting several models—allegations that were first brought forward by Owen Mooney, a British model who bravely shared his story via a series of TikTok videos. 

In the videos, Mooney details an encounter in a New York City club, where he alleges he was groped by Wang. Another alleged incident, submitted by an anonymous source, claimed Wang laced their drink with MDMA, while another alleged Wang coerced them into his room for the night.

“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,” Shit Model Mgmt’s post read. “It is important to show your support to these victims by unfollowing Alexander Wang and boycotting his clothing line.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

Wang has since refuted all allegations.

“Over the last few days, I have been on the receiving end of baseless and grotesquely false accusations,” the designer began in a statement. “These claims have been wrongfully amplified by social media accounts infamous for posting defamatory material from undisclosed and/or anonymous sources with zero evidence or any fact-checking whatsoever.” 

“Seeing these lies about me being perpetuated as truths has been infuriating,” Wang continued. “I have never engaged in the atrocious behaviour described and would never conduct myself in the manner that’s been alleged. I intend to get to the bottom of this and hold accountable whoever is responsible for originating these claims and viciously spreading them online.”

The designer joins a long list of influential and entertainment personalities that have been accused of sexual misconduct, and while just four years ago Hollywood voices were among the loudest advocates, their silence is now deafening to #MeToo’s latest victims. 

“In an era of #MeToo and the solidarity victims received from Hollywood, where is the same support for the victims of Wang?” the model said, in one TikTok video. “This is why so many accusations of his get brushed under the rug, along with accusations of prominent figures in fashion, for that matter.”

Mooney posed the theory that gender plays a significant role in the way survivors are treated—with most recent allegations put forward by members of the LGBTQI+, including several trans men and women. 

“I can’t help but question if this has something to do with this being about men, queer and trans people? Does the ideology that we are not victims of sexual assault exist? What would the response be if a world-renowned fashion designer was drugging and sexually assaulting cis women?” 

“There were so many people in Hollywood who tirelessly advocated for the #MeToo movement, which was truly incredible, but these same people are now turning a blind eye to the current allegations. The response to the message of #UsToo has been enlightening, it’s clear that people are shocked and disappointed in the zero support from people in Hollywood and fashion. These people are idolized by so many, so when they pick and choose their activism, it’s very disheartening.”

As a result, the #UsToo movement is gaining momentum in the hopes of encouraging victims to continue coming forward, despite the apparent lack of support from powerful players in the fashion industry. Taking to his personal Instagram account, Mooney described exactly what the growing movement is.

He began, “#UsToo is a response to the Hollywood silence, it is not to diminish the important message and work of #MeToo. What victims need more than ever is to be heard and believed. We should be supported alongside #MeToo and importantly backed by the people in fashion and Hollywood. But instead, it’s radio silence.” 

“Is there any difference to what is happening now compared to what happened back then? No difference but the fact these assaults are against male, queer and trans people; so it seems #MeToo quite possibly could be lacking in inclusivity.”

The term was first penned by lawyer and author Sophia Nelson in 2017 as a way to make the #MeToo conversation racially inclusive, which now extends to minority groups that are still failing to be heard. 

The Model Alliance, which works to “promote fair treatment, equal opportunity and sustainable practices in the fashion industry,” has since announced that it “stands in solidarity with those who have shared accusations of sexual abuse by Alexander Wang.”

The statement, which was first reported by WWD, reads: “Let’s be clear: The fashion industry’s lack of transparency and accountability leaves all models vulnerable to abuse, regardless of their sex or gender identity.”

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