Yesterday, an interview we published on our site in 2017 received a surge in visitors. That article was titled “Jonathan Leder Reveals Details of His Emily Ratajkowski Shoot (NSFW)” and was an interview with Leder about a photoshoot he conducted with Ratajkowski in 2012.
The piece was gaining newfound traction due to Ratajkowski’s recent op-ed in The Cut. It details her traumatic experience on that shoot with Leder, which involved an alleged sexual assault and was followed by the publication of 71 images printed in a book without her consent. That trauma, she writes, was further fueled by press coverage of the event, most of which was published in allyship with Leder despite her statements regarding his violation.
As a staff, we are deeply saddened and disgusted that Highsnobiety played a role in that situation with our interview, one in which Leder defends his work and gaslights* Ratajkowski, invalidating her real, lived experience of trauma. First and foremost, we would like this statement to serve as an apology to Ratajkowski, and also as a thank you for holding us accountable by mentioning our article specifically.
While our team discussed retracting the interview altogether, we believe it is important to keep it published as a measure of transparency, as a record of how women’s voices are so often silenced, and how common it is for publications to be complicit on these issues. Since 2017, Highsnobiety has done a great deal to evolve, with more women-led teams in our editorial organization, an ongoing recruiting initiative to build a more diverse staff, as well as an editorial commitment to social justice that we continue to redouble. This change is very much still in progress and we still have a long way to go, particularly considering that we operate within an industry where the vast majority of high profile executives and creatives — people who make their living dressing women — are men. Furthermore, we ourselves have come to prominence as part of a streetwear movement that, while democratic in many ways, remains a boys’ club.
We owe it to the world to do our part to reverse these inequalities, learn from our mistakes, and take action to ensure that we are never on the wrong side of a critical situation like this again. Accountability and unlearning are lifelong processes that we are committed to as an organization.
*Merriam-Webster defines “gaslight” as an “attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation)”. It’s often used to describe a kind of verbal and emotional manipulation used by perpetrators of harm and abuse to discredit the valid claims of their victims.