The model Kate Upton has accused Paul Marciano, the co-founder of jeans company Guess, of using “his power in the industry to sexually and emotionally harass women.”
Upton made the allegations under the #MeToo banner on Twitter and Instagram Wednesday night.
Marciano is one of four French brothers who co-founded Guess, a brand that did much to reimagine denim as a fashion textile, thanks in large part to a series of celebrated and provocative advertising campaigns.
Some other users on social media responded to Upton’s message by making additional—and unsubstantiated—allegations against Marciano.
The brand moved into the full range of women’s clothing and Upton modeled lingerie for Guess in a series of billboard ads in 2011 that referenced the company’s iconic association with the late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith.
Upton became the primary face and ambassador for the brand, a position that would presumably have brought her into frequent and close contact with Marciano.
The company is no stranger to controversy. In the 1990s, Guess earned an undesirable reputation as a labor-rights violator after it was found to operate dozens of sweatshops in California, where immigrant laborers were paid less than the minimum wage—despite the fact that Guess stitched the phrase “Sweatshop Free” into its clothes.
It was estimated that the company was paying just $5 to manufacture a pair of jeans it was selling for 10 times that amount.
The company struggled with infighting between investors and the founder-brothers and saw its share price collapse, but Guess has appeared to be staging a recovery in recent years.
Paul Marciano and his brother Maurice used some of their fortune to establish a vast contemporary-art collection and gallery space in Los Angeles.
Upton’s intervention appeared to be timed to cause maximum disruption as Guess launched its new campaign featuring the company’s newest signing, Jennifer Lopez, at a party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
J-Lo was accompanied by her beau, Alex Rodriguez.