Former Tapestry CEO speaks out against article that he said triggered his resignation: ‘I cannot allow these allegations to be weaponised against me’

Jide Zeitlin resigned from Tapestry on Tuesday after becoming CEO in September. Tapestry
  • Jide Zeitlin resigned as CEO and chairman of Tapestry on Tuesday, with the company saying his departure was “for personal reasons.”
  • Later on Tuesday, Zeitlin wrote in a LinkedIn post that he departed because a journalist, William Cohan, had resurfaced allegations against Zeitlin that he worried would be a “distraction” in his job as CEO.
  • In a story published by ProPublica on Wednesday, Cohan detailed Zeitlin’s background, as well as the allegations made against him, in-depth. At least one woman has accused Zeitlin of using “deception” to lure her “into an unwanted romantic relationship.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jide Zeitlin resigned as CEO and chairman of Tapestry, parent company of Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman, on Tuesday.

In a press release about his departure, Tapestry said Zeitlin was leaving the company “for personal reasons.” A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Business Insider that the company’s board had opened an investigation into Zeitlin’s personal behaviour, after which the CEO resigned.

Zeitlin elaborated on the situation in a LinkedIn note posted later on Tuesday, saying, “I have long believed in the importance of telling one’s own life story, rather than allowing others to control the narrative.”

In it, he writes that Tapestry was approached by journalist William Cohan shortly after Zeitlin became the company’s CEO in September.

Zeitlin said that Cohan at first said he wanted to write a profile about the new CEO’s career, but that a few months after Zeitlin agreed to an interview, it “became clear that Cohan’s article might include allegations that were made 11 years ago during my U.S. Senate confirmation process when President Obama nominated me to be an ambassador to the United Nations.”

Zeitlin continued: “At its core, was the allegation that I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman whom I had met while pursuing my interest in photography.”

He wrote that he sometimes used a pseudonym while photographing people “for privacy reasons” and because at the time he was a young banker, one of few Black people rising in the ranks.

“The allegations that I drew too close to the above woman are true; however, our relationship began and concluded 13 years ago, it had nothing to do with my role at Tapestry, and I did not use power, wealth, or position to further that relationship,” Zeitlin wrote on LinkedIn. “Cohan’s inordinate focus on this dated matter was and remains odd and unsettling.”

Zeitlin’s note goes on to speculate that Cohan’s raising questions about the allegations revealed a political or financial agenda.

“More than a decade after my U.N. nomination process, I cannot allow these allegations to be weaponised against me. I cannot allow someone to treat me with the lack of decency that Cohan has brought to his crusade against me as I passionately worked alongside all of you to navigate this critical moment in history for Tapestry,” he wrote.

“I reached the conclusion this past weekend that this distraction will not allow me to meet my responsibilities as CEO. I hope you know how deeply I care about you and the company. The last thing I want is to add to the uncertainty each of you are already facing due to Covid-19 and the economic downturn.”

Cohan’s story about Zeitlin was published by ProPublica early Wednesday morning. In it, Cohan details Zeitlin’s background and discusses the allegations made against him in depth.

At least one woman has accused Zeitlin of using “deception” to lure her “into an unwanted romantic relationship,” Cohan reported.

“As my story makes clear those allegations are beyond ridiculous,” Cohan said in response to Business Insider’s request for comment on Zeitlin’s accusations that the reporting was financially or politically motivated.

Cohan continued: “The piece started as a feature story about Jide and his many accomplishments and successes throughout his life and only took the turn it did when he challenged me, Gary Hart style, to keep digging about him and his personal life, as I make abundantly clear in the story. My only motivation was to get to the truth.”

Representatives for Zeitlin and Tapestry declined to comment further.