Vogue apologizes for their Gigi Hadid-Zayn Malik ‘gender fluid’ cover

Jerudong Park Trophy at Cirencester Park

Last week, we discussed the August cover of Vogue Magazine, which features Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik. While the cover does not reference “gender fluidity,” the actual article did reference it, making “gender fluid fashion” the topic du jour. The gist of what Vogue was trying to do was rebrand the idea of unisex clothing, or talk about “cross-dressing” as a particularly mainstream-Millennial device. And that got conflated with the term gender fluidity, which is an actual thing that has very little to do with Zayn occasionally wearing Gigi’s t-shirts. Gender fluidity is also called genderqueer, and you can read more about it here. It is not a trend, much less a FASHION trend.

The editorial and article left a lot of people cold. Vogue quietly changed their headline online, which made a reference to gender fluidity, and made it read: “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Who Don’t See Fashion as Gendered.” Which… is somewhat better. Vogue also issued an apology for botching this:

“The story was intended to highlight the impact the gender-fluid, non-binary communities have had on fashion and culture. We are very sorry the story did not correctly reflect that spirit – we missed the mark. We do look forward to continuing the conversation with greater sensitivity.”

[Via The Daily Beast]

I get that people are mad – justifiably mad – at Vogue for bungling this conversation SO badly, but at the end of the day, I do feel like… what did you expect? Let’s not forget that JUST THIS YEAR, Vogue’s Diversity Issue included a six-page editorial of Karlie Kloss dressed up like a Japanese geisha. FOR REAL. Vogue keeps screwing up. Hey, at least they apologized? The problem is that they never seem to learn from all of these controversies.

Jerudong Park Trophy at Cirencester Park

Photos courtesy of Inez and Vinoodh for Vogue.

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28 Responses to “Vogue apologizes for their Gigi Hadid-Zayn Malik ‘gender fluid’ cover”

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  1. Nicole says:

    Not surprised but that doesn’t mean we stop holding people accountable. If we do that they will continue to be lazy

  2. shanaynay says:

    Because controversy sells. Its called “outrage marketing”. Just look at the Kardashians

  3. Radley says:

    Vogue’s concept of “gender-fluid” is that everyone gets to be an expensive but poorly dressed mess. Viva equality, eh Vogue?

    Why is Teen Vogue so much more logical, sensible and respectful than their “adult” counterpart? Vogue needs new blood, badly.

    • Crackfox says:

      I have to respectfully disagree. Teen Vogue did what I think was a dehumanizing and irresponsible article an anal sex. The sex part didn’t bother me, and I think the article could have brilliant. However, in a shoddy attempt at being gender inclusive, neutral, whatever the term is, they reduced afab teenage girls to “non-prostate havers”. They didn’t talk about the pressure that is put on girls to have anal sex or the physical damage it can cause. And it didn’t address trans teen girls at all.

  4. Shelly says:

    Stupid to begin with .. These two were not gender fluid, they just wore each other clothes. Further slides in irrelevancy.

  5. BritAfrica says:

    Heavens! Is everyone going to apologise for absolutely everything these days??

    There was nothing wrong with the photoshoot, it touched on gender fluidity, that’s all. Earth did not fall out of the galaxy!

    Honestly, we should quit will all the endless apologising – they don’t mean anything anymore.

    • Keaton says:

      These apologies just elicit a big ol’ “Meh” and an eyeroll from me at this point. They mean absolutely nothing.

    • Sixer says:

      I occasionally wonder what editors are actually doing. Either put out a piece and stick by your EDITORIAL decision or don’t publish the bloody piece. What’s the point of having an editor if all they do is publish any old thing and then wheel out the cookie cutter apology when people don’t like the any old thing?

      Editors – you have a job. It’s called editing.

    • anna says:

      YES! some people like to go off the deep end with this endless virtue signaling in the name of one group or another that is perceived as needing protection. then we circle back to how karlie kloss as a geisha is SO offensive. as if all these weak, opressed japanese people desperately need to be protected from someone “appropriating” their culture. my stepfather lived in japan for 20 years, according to him, the japanese quite enjoy westerners taking on their culture. pretty sure they don’t give a f*** about karlie in a kimono. i mean, wouldn’t that be insane if cultures were influencing each other! and look who it is that is outraged: us-american white liberals. it’s so patronizing.

    • Boo Peep says:

      But the photoshoot didn’t touch on gender fluidity? Gender fluid is a gender identity, when a person does not ascribe to a male or female gender identity. It goes beyond the clothes that you wear. And because gender fluid people are in the minority, they face specific challenges that cis-gender men and women (who are in the majority) don’t face.

      If Vogue had hired a genderfluid model, that would have been fine. Or if Vogue had this exact same photoshoot but didn’t do an article describing the couple as gender fluid.

      This is tone-deaf at best, because Gigi and Zayn don’t face the challenges that a genderfluid person does. And if they were treated badly over their outfits they could always change them. Gender fluid people can’t change their idendities. Their gender identities, as cis, also has way more media representation than gender fluidity does. This could have been a chance for Vogue to increase that representation.

  6. minx says:

    I think Gigi looked cute on the cover.

  7. Lynnie says:

    Vogue keeps on running into these problems, because

    1. They’re utterly clueless and Anna Wintour needs to leave immediately.

    2. They’re desperately trying to bring in eyes and readership amongst younger readers (which equals continued money stream for the years) by going for all the buzzwords, while still clinging to the instamodels and “well known” names because of the (tired and disproven) theory that their followers will eat it up and drive sales. This creates the embarrassing and insulting scenes of basic people being out of their depth. Rinse and repeat.

    The magazine has to decide whether they want actual content or crazy clicks/ad revenue, but they can’t have both. Unfortunately, Vogue seems to be going the way of the instamodel, and has just become quite bland in general. “Why would I invest in a subscription when I could scour the internet, find more interesting things/people, and follow and get my fashion inspiration from the source itself?” is a mentality younger readers if not verbally articulating, are definitely feeling. Wintour and the fashion world in general haven’t fully realized that there’s a DIY (in terms of creating a style, not actual clothes itself) and Direct-to-consumer mentality that the Internet has facilitated that’s only going to get bigger and more refined as the internet generation grows older. If they were smart they wouldn’t go all in on this brand of celeb names, because eventually the internet will move on from them too.

    • Jegede says:


      Vogue cover stars this year have been dominated by early 20 somethings.

      It’s glaringly obvious they are gunning for that market and the social media power that goes with it.

      “They’re desperately trying to bring in eyes and readership amongst younger readers (which equals continued money stream for the years) by going for all the buzzwords, while still clinging to the instamodels and “well known” names because of the (tired and disproven) theory that their followers will eat it up and drive sales. This creates the embarrassing and insulting scenes of basic people being out of their depth. Rinse and repeat.” –
      Abso-damn-lutely and is why Doughface Gigi, plus Malik, are doing the honours in this round.

      However, judging by the reaction to the covers on TFS, Mode Zone e.t.c, nominal readers are WTFing at this.
      So will any new readers go enough for this obvious targeting to make up for it? And when the Instadums trend fades, as you know it will, what then?

      • Amide says:

        A lot worse has been said about other female stars.
        When any of us posters put ourselves out there, or grace fashion mags, yes people will also be free to decide how ‘perfect’ or ‘unperfect’ we look according to their taste, and write it on a fan forum, or on this site called celebitchy.

      • Lynnie says:

        @ Jegede

        “So will any new readers go enough for this obvious targeting to make up for it?”

        I honestly think no, or not as much as they need, for a couple of reasons.

        First off, there just aren’t enough new readers period. Realistically no one is going to wait around every month for a 600-page magazine to tell them what’s going on in fashion when a quick google search will come up with a million hits. Vogue and the rest of print media realized this (albeit a bit too slowly), over the years and beefed up their online presence, but all of that is moot because there’s not enough of an attachment/motivation to get on the site between the company and it’s target audience.

        Secondly, a lot of the fashion in Vogue is just not attainable. This was fine when Vogue claimed that it represented high class and fashion but that excuse falls flat when they’re inviting any and everyone onto the magazine these days/trying to reach out to everyone, and yet they’re trying to keep up the old money act in terms of brands and fashion lingo they use. The general age bracket for these celeb fandoms is 12-19. Not only do most of us not have the money for the clothes, but the majority are just looking for what’s “in”,how to wear it, and don’t really care to know why Resort is better than Summer. Photoshoots like these where your supposed to get ideas and create your own outfits/get the feel of future seasons are pretty, but useless to the person who just wants to know what to wear out tonight.

        Lastly, I get the feeling Wintour and her board keep on putting these faces, because they figure if 10% of their base reads the article each time they’ll get hooked to the mag and it’ll pay off in the end, but the fandoms don’t even do that. They’re content with the pull quotes, ooh and ahh over how good the photo looks, post it on Insta for bragging rights (“my fave did a cover for Vogue and yours didn’t”), and go about their day. Lose-lose for Vogue not only because there are no new readers, but because they turn off the readers that can actually pay a subscription/buy brand name with the move downmarket AND the ones who might be curious about the fashion world but get turned off by Karlie playing geisha.

        “And when the Instadums trend fades, as you know it will, what then?”

        I think that without some new management or life into the magazine it’ll just die a slow death. Only reason the fashion industry hasn’t replaced it publicly is because of Anna/the magazine’s former clout, but best believe they have new avenues of info and muses privately. The general public has already moved on though. Teen Vogue did revamp successfully and pulled in readership with a new Editor in Chief, so I’m sure if Anna steps downs and the right successor comes along they can too. Also diversity with actual meaning (in terms of shoots, stories, brands) will do wonders as well. American Vogue might also want to take a look at what the boards of the other Vogues are doing as well.

      • Jegede says:

        @Amide – Spot on. Je regrette rien!
        The word policing is all part of selective memory.

        @Lynnie – Yeah. It looks very much that way.
        I think there will be lot of monitoring at how Vogue UK fares under new management.

    • Tata says:

      Lynnie you are brilliant and said it all, I am clapping in my seat here.

      I hate Vogue and associate it with boring rich people. I get all my fashion and make up tips from youtube, tumblr, Instagram.

      But also I got tired of not seeing people who looked like me – body size, proportion, skin, hair, etc are all SO different – in addition to price points like you said, and that is also part of why I shun magazines Period. I do not consider gigi diverse…I mean, come on now.

      But really everything you said – all the stars, upvotes, likes, I wish you had a hand in making magazines relevant again, because it is nice to have it in your hand sometimes, but not the current ones and the current state of things.

  8. Ayra. says:

    Vogue is just a constant tragedy in the fashion world these days. No real models are on the covers, celebs all that..

  9. kim says:

    Vogue’s been cancelled since they put Kim and Kanye then every Instagram “model” on the cover. I wasn’t aware people still read this crap

  10. Sara says:

    What else is there to being ‘genderqueer’?

  11. lol says:

    Vogue is a joke. That article is ridiculous.