Over the past weekend, a P.R. firm called The Social Co. hosted a group of fashion journalists and bloggers for a gratis getaway at the Maidstone, an East Hampton hotel where mid-priced rooms go for $845 per night. Among the attendees was David Yi, a staff reporter at Condé Nast’s Women’s Wear Daily, who meticulously Instagrammed the entire weekend with the The Social Co.’s preferred hashtag, #MaidstoneVoyage. Now Yi’s employer is scrutinizing his attendance for a potential ethics breach.
Yesterday a tipster pointed out that Yi’s various Instagram photos—attending a wine tasting; eating expertly arranged dishes at the Maidstone’s restaurant; lounging, fully clothed, in his hotel room’s bathtub—certainly indicated his willing consumption of free gifts: a big no-no at Condé Nast.
When Gawker asked about Yi’s attendance, a WWD spokesperson responded:
WWD has long-standing policies in place that ensure editorial integrity. David Yi was in attendance at the event in question, but as a guest of a personal friend and not in a reporting capacity. There were no free clothes or gifts distributed. While we feel that no conflict of interest existed in this situation, the appearance of it is just as serious. As a result, we will deal with the matter internally.
Within minutes of WWD’s statement, Yi quietly wiped his Twitter and Instagram of any evidence that he attended the Maidstone Hotel getaway. In a follow-up email, the same spokesperson explained: “WWD asked David to delete Instagram imagery because of the appearance of a potential conflict of interest.” Deleting Instagram photos: The new transparency!
And while WWD says that Yi wasn’t attending “in a reporting capacity,” he didn’t shy away from integrating the hotel stay into his regular, brand-heavy Instagram and Twitter feeds.
In one (now-deleted) Instagram photo, Yi snapped his new outfit and captioned it: “My East Hamptons look this morning and debuting my new @revisitproducts leather backpack and @hermes scarf. Varsity jacket and shirt by @patrikervell; denim jacket Made and Crafted by @levis.” He even posed for a photo, lying on the grass, with Social Co. organizer Natalie Zfat, who regrammed the moment on her own account.
“This habit of accepting extravagant gifts is an ongoing a rite of passage for a shit ton of fashion editors (still!),” our tipster wrote, “but lately it seems some Condé editors are too dumb to realize they should maybe not advertise their swag online.”
Both Yi and The Social Co. declined to comment.