Elle U.S. creative director Stephen Gan has denied reports claiming that he was fired from the magazine brand following accusations that he made racist and sexist remarks in the past.
In an article published last week, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) cited sources who claimed that Gan will no longer have work to do with Elle and its parent publication Hearst and that his contract will not be renewed after its expiration in several weeks.
Gan, who has worked with Hearst for nearly 20 years, is allegedly being “pushed out” after former employees of V Magazine — another magazine he runs as editor-in-chief — alleged racist, sexist and homophobic behaviors from him to fashion watchdog Diet Prada.
For one, a former employee identified as “Alex” claimed Gan orchestrated measures to make him, the only Black employee on the editorial team at the time, quit on his own volition.
Gan allegedly praised Alex’s White colleagues, excluded him from staff meetings, and tasked a White-passing “Drew” to convince him to leave. When Alex finally asked Gan for a reason why a former White employee was set to replace him, the editor-in-chief allegedly replied, “Honestly, there isn’t one.”
After working at V for five years, Alex was allegedly terminated with no severance.
Other former employees alleged instances of Gan’s microaggressions toward Black people including comments where stated that musician Jody Watley’s nostrils needed to be fixed because they were “too big” and when he wanted to pair model Alek Wek with Black-owned brands Off-White and Yeezy.
The former employees also claimed that Gan tore down ideas of female editors, making misogynistic jokes and slamming women for their clothing choices.
Additionally, Gan allegedly scoffed at the idea of featuring prominent LGBTQ members for a “Heroes” section and criticized photoshoots for being “too gay,”despite being openly gay himself.
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Gan rejected the accusations in his statement to Diet Prada:
“I have never once requested for a talent or model’s nostrils to be photoshopped to appear smaller and even the notion is absurd. In regards to the Alek Wek allegations, we love and have always supported Alek from the beginning of her career and the only reason I would have asked for her to be shot in Off-White or Yeezy, is because we at V are huge fans of Virgil and Kanye’s work. Lastly as a gay man from a minority race, I would never criticise a shoot for being ‘too gay.’ It is absolutely ludicrous and if you look at the ground-breaking shoots we have prided ourselves on within V Man and V over the years, the very idea is almost comical.”
Instagram users have since called out Gan for his alleged actions.
“If my friends were opening their mouth, I swear it will be the end of V Magazine,” one claimed.
Gan officially posted a “message” through V Magazine’s Instagram account in response to the allegations, in which he apologized “if there have been occasions in when I inadvertently made anyone feel unworthy.”
“As a gay man from the Philippines, who came to this country at 18 and worked his way up, and who at times did experience discrimination himself, I have fought very hard for inclusion, and for diversity, on whichever platform I was blessed enough to touch,” Gan wrote. “Celebrating and shining a light on talent, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or background, was always my personal mandate. And my life’s mission was for their voices to be heard.”
Gan pointed out that V Magazine and its men’s clothing offshoot VMan are 60% BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) and 40% Caucasian, with the straight White male actually being the minority.
“I am committed to acknowledging and reflecting on my shortcomings, listening to my diverse team, learning, and understanding how I can be a better leader and ally, and make sure V is a better environment for all in the future,” he added.
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In a statement to Page Six last Wednesday, Gan debunked claims that he is set to be fired from his position at Elle.
“I am still at Hearst, serving as creative director of Elle, and currently working on the September issue,” he told the outlet, slamming the “vicious rumors.”
Feature Images via Brian Ach / Getty Images (left) and Bryan Bedder / Getty Images (right)