After reports of alleged sexual misconduct by Stuart Weitzman creative director Giovanni Morelli surfaced last week via Business of Fashion, steps are now being taken to make sure consequences will follow Morelli's behavior. In a lawsuit filed to a Manhattan court by the brand's vice president of product development for footwear Thomas Gibb, the executive lists Tapestry, Inc. — which owns Weitzman, Coach, and Kate Spade — and Morelli as codefendants. Gibb was formerly the vice president of footwear operations at Coach.
The filing comes a week after Morelli was allegedly forced out of the company (a year after he relocated to New York for the job), his resignation announced by Tapestry chief executive officer Victor Luis: "While we greatly admire Giovanni’s creative talents, Tapestry is committed to an environment where every individual feels respected and at times his behavior fell short of these standards," he said, alluding to inappropriate behavior by Morelli, of which the details have since come forth.
David E. Gottlieb, Gibb's lawyer, told Fashionista that the lawsuit was filed in reaction to the Weitzman company's not taking formal steps to rectify Morelli's reported behavior. The court document alleges that Gibb was subjected to "a constant barrage of sexual harassment," which involved "sexually charged conversation and innuendo into the workplace, making those around him, including Mr. Gibb, extremely uncomfortable;" it adds that during a work trip to Spain, Morelli repeatedly touched Gibb’s body and the back of his legs, and asked whether Gibb would "ever consider not being straight?" In the document, Gibb maintains that Morelli’s touching was "unwelcome, offensive, and inappropriate."
But that's not all. At their first meeting, after Gibb joined the company on March 1, Morelli allegedly asked Gibb, "How is your dick?" Morelli reportedly also had a nickname for Gibb: "Tommy Straight," and once drew "two large penises" on a company whiteboard next to the moniker. When the executive tried to get human resources involved, his complaints (which included a photo of the incident) were allegedly perceived as a joke. The HR rep was let go, but was only allowed to report her split from the company as a resignation, not a firing.
In a statement sent to Refinery29, a Tapestry spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit but confirmed litigation had been taken. "While we historically have not commented on pending litigation, we can confirm that the Wigdor firm, representing Mr. Gibb, wrote to our General Counsel on May 15, 2018. On that date, the company commenced an investigation which ultimately resulted in the announcement on May 21, 2018, regarding the resignation of Giovanni Morelli." More of Gottlieb's statements regarding Gibb's court filing can be read at Fashionista.
Morelli, who, prior to his Weitzman post, worked at Loewe, Marc Jacobs, and Chloé, joins a list of alleged sexual misconduct against top industry figures, including Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, Terry Richardson, Patrick Demarchelier, and more. Gibb's claims include discrimination "on the basis of his gender and/or sexual orientation" by both parties, and he's pursuing declaratory judgement that both Morelli and Tapestry, Inc. broke the law, injunctive relief, and monetary damages.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).