As with so many other #MeToo moments, it began with a tweet. On Jan. 31, supermodel Kate Upton wrote, “It’s disappointing that such an iconic women’s brand @Guess is still empowering Paul Marciano as their creative director #metoo.” In an interview with TIME, Upton detailed her claims against Marciano, co-founder and former CEO of Guess, who she says assaulted and began harassing her during her first professional modeling campaign when she was 18.
Harassment has plagued the fashion industry for decades, but allegations have often been ignored. Many models work as independent contractors and have few legal protections; last month lawmakers introduced a bill in New York that would hold designers, retailers and agencies accountable for abuses.
In a statement to TIME, Marciano called Upton’s accusations “absolutely false” and “preposterous.” “I have never been alone with Kate Upton,” he said. “I have never touched her inappropriately. Nor would I ever refer to a Guess model in such a derogatory manner.”