Russell Simmons Files $55 Million Fashion Lawsuit
Russell Simmons has been in the fashion industry for years, but he hasn’t had any internal legal snafus — until now. Simmons, who founded Phat Farm in 1992 and sold it twelve years later for $140 million, has filed a $55 million breach of contract lawsuit against Hong Kong-based partner Li & Fung over his “Russell Simmons Argyleculture” and “American Classics by Russell Simmons” lines. The mogul alleges that the company failed to make good on a contractual promise to distribute and market his brands overseas.
“I have taken this action to protect my partnerships with retailers and recover millions in damages on behalf of my brands and to protect my name and reputation in the industry,” said Simmons in a statement. “Over the last 30 years and with the help of numerous partners, I’ve built successful groundbreaking businesses in music, apparel, television, film, jewelry, games and multiple charities and causes. Not once have I ever had to file a lawsuit. For the first time in my career I found myself with a partner in Li & Fung, which had executives who willfully and repeatedly put the integrity of my brands at risk.”
Simmons claims that Li & Fung USA “expressed a false enthusiasm” for his brands in order to convince him to license his brands. After waiting for two years to see results, Simmons was forced to file suit after the company expressed “repeated misrepresentations, failed execution and lack of development and support.”
“Almost 20 years ago I pioneered a space that enabled an entire generation of minority designers and entrepreneurs to redefine the landscape of fashion,” said Simmons. “Similarly today, there is an enormous void in the market to fulfill the aspirations of the Urban Graduate, who has grown out of this urban fashion trend but isn’t represented by the mainstream brands.”