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Herve Leger isn’t alone: 3 other fashion brands with body-shaming execs

Herve Leger - Runway RTW - Spring 2015 - New York Fashion WeekHerve Leger - Runway RTW - Spring 2015 - New York Fashion Week
A model walks the runway at the Herve Leger Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show during New York Fashion Week.Photograph by Getty Images

Patrick Couderc, the managing director of Herve Leger’s London distributor, MJH Fashion, made headlines on earlier this week when he told the Daily Mail that the brand’s iconic bandage dresses are not made for “voluptuous” women or “those with “very prominent hips and a very flat chest.” In the same interview, he insulted lesbians (“Lesbians would want to be rather butch and leisurely”) and older women (“Your cleavage is about two inches too low because you are 55″).

BCBGMaxAzria, the group that owns the Herve Leger brand later released a statement saying that it was “shocked and appalled by Patrick Couderc’s comments.” But although a spokesperson from the label told Vogue that Couderc “is no longer associated with the company,” the damage was done, and the Twitter hashtag #boycottherveleger began to circulate.

Unfortunately, Couderc is not the first fashion exec to speak so offensively about women’s bodies. And while some make the case that one executive’s statements are not representative of a brand as a whole, brands are the sum of how consumers—in this case, the same consumers that a man associated with Leger called unworthy of the company’s bandage dress—perceive them.

Here, a look at three other fashion insiders who bit the hand that puts on their designs.

1

Chip Wilson, founder and former chairman of Lululemon

Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg—Getty Images

One of the most damaging moments for the Lululemon athletic apparel brand came from its creator, Chip Wilson, who has since distanced himself from the company. In a November 2013 Bloomberg interview, Wilson responded to a question about the quality of Lululemon’s pants with his opinion about who should not be wearing them.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for [the pants] … It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it,” he said in the interview.

Angry customers went online to tell Wilson what they thought about his using women’s bodies as an explanation for the failings of a Lululemon product. Blogger Paula Mangin responded to Wilson’s comments in a Huffington Post blog entry. “Are you kidding me? Blaming your customers for your own failings? This, ladies, is what failure sounds like,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, in an open letter to Wilson, blogger Katrina Carefoot asked: “Am I to understand that because my thighs rub together (which will always be the case, no matter what size Lululemon pants I wear), that my body just doesn’t work for your precious, overpriced pants?”

“Chip Wilson’s comments from 2013 in no way reflect our brand,” says a Lululemon spokesperson.

2

Mike Jeffries, former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie and Fitch's Manhattan flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg *** Local Caption ***Abercrombie and Fitch’s Manhattan flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York.Craig Warga/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Many have compared Wilson’s comments to remarks made by Abercrombie & Fitch’s former CEO, Mike Jeffries. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries made a number of cringe-worthy comments, the most egregious was his explanation of the retailer’s marketing tactics: “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” he said.

Though Jeffries made the comments in 2006, they resurfaced again in the spring of 2013 thanks to users on Reddit and Tumblr. A Buzzfeed story from the time rounds up some of the criticisms lobbed against the executive (mostly in the form of memes), with many of them calling him a hypocrite for not living up to his company’s beauty standards.

“Mike Jeffries no longer works for the company, and his comments from 2006 do not reflect our values and beliefs,” said an A&F spokesperson. Jefferies was relieved of chairman duties in January on 2014, and retired as CEO of the company in December of that same year.

But if anything good came out of the debacle, it’s the Los Angeles-based #FitchTheHomeless movement, in which people donate A&F clothing directly to homeless shelters in an effort to “remake the A&F brand.”

3

Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label

Chanel : Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015Models walk the show finale during the Chanel show on September 30, 2014 in Paris, France.Dominique Charriau—WireImage

Legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld is infamous for his offensive comments about women’s bodies. In a 2012 book of Lagerfeld quotes called The World According to Karl, he is quoted as says things like: “No one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk,” and “It’s the fat women sitting in front of televisions with their pack of crisps who say slim models are hideous.”

Appearing on French television channel D8, he blamed the country’s healthcare problems on the overweight, saying that “all the illnesses contracted by people who are too fat,” according to reporting by Vogue.

Unlike Wilson and Jeffries, the German designer hasn’t lost his job at the Chanel or Fendi fashion houses. However, he was sued by a French organization that advocates on behalf of plus-sized women. The group, called Belle, Ronde, Sexy et je m’assume (Beautiful, curvy, sexy and okay with it) filed a defamation suit against Lagerfeld in October 2013, for his for his “defamatory and discriminatory comments” towards some women, according to Vogue.

A year later, Lagerfeld staged a “feminist protest” during a Chanel fashion show, in which models held up signs with phrases such as “History is Her Story.” This has led some to call him a hypocrite because of his prior statements about women.

Karl Lagerfeld representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

1 Chip Wilson, founder and former chairman of Lululemon

Lululemon shares are pressured after the apparel company issued third-quarter results.

One of the most damaging moments for the Lululemon athletic apparel brand came from its creator, Chip Wilson, who has since distanced himself from the company. In a November 2013 Bloomberg interview, Wilson responded to a question about the quality of Lululemon’s pants with his opinion about who should not be wearing them.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for [the pants] … It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it,” he said in the interview.

Angry customers went online to tell Wilson what they thought about his using women’s bodies as an explanation for the failings of a Lululemon product. Blogger Paula Mangin responded to Wilson’s comments in a Huffington Post blog entry. “Are you kidding me? Blaming your customers for your own failings? This, ladies, is what failure sounds like,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, in an open letter to Wilson, blogger Katrina Carefoot asked: “Am I to understand that because my thighs rub together (which will always be the case, no matter what size Lululemon pants I wear), that my body just doesn’t work for your precious, overpriced pants?”

“Chip Wilson’s comments from 2013 in no way reflect our brand,” says a Lululemon spokesperson. 

2 Mike Jeffries, former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie and Fitch’s Manhattan flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York.

Many have compared Wilson’s comments to remarks made by Abercrombie & Fitch’s former CEO, Mike Jeffries. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries made a number of cringe-worthy comments, the most egregious was his explanation of the retailer’s marketing tactics: “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” he said.

Though Jeffries made the comments in 2006, they resurfaced again in the spring of 2013 thanks to users on Reddit and Tumblr. A Buzzfeed story from the time rounds up some of the criticisms lobbed against the executive (mostly in the form of memes), with many of them calling him a hypocrite for not living up to his company’s beauty standards.

“Mike Jeffries no longer works for the company, and his comments from 2006 do not reflect our values and beliefs,” said an A&F spokesperson. Jefferies was relieved of chairman duties in January on 2014, and retired as CEO of the company in December of that same year.

But if anything good came out of the debacle, it’s the Los Angeles-based #FitchTheHomeless movement, in which people donate A&F clothing directly to homeless shelters in an effort to “remake the A&F brand.”

3 Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label

Models walk the show finale during the Chanel show on September 30, 2014 in Paris, France.

Legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld is infamous for his offensive comments about women’s bodies. In a 2012 book of Lagerfeld quotes called The World According to Karl, he is quoted as says things like: “No one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk,” and “It’s the fat women sitting in front of televisions with their pack of crisps who say slim models are hideous.”

Appearing on French television channel D8, he blamed the country’s healthcare problems on the overweight, saying that “all the illnesses contracted by people who are too fat,” according to reporting by Vogue.

Unlike Wilson and Jeffries, the German designer hasn’t lost his job at the Chanel or Fendi fashion houses. However, he was sued by a French organization that advocates on behalf of plus-sized women. The group, called Belle, Ronde, Sexy et je m’assume (Beautiful, curvy, sexy and okay with it) filed a defamation suit against Lagerfeld in October 2013, for his for his “defamatory and discriminatory comments” towards some women, according to Vogue.

A year later, Lagerfeld staged a “feminist protest” during a Chanel fashion show, in which models held up signs with phrases such as “History is Her Story.” This has led some to call him a hypocrite because of his prior statements about women.

Karl Lagerfeld representatives did not respond to a request for comment.