Tamara Mellon has accused Jimmy Choo, the accessories brand she co-founded in 1996 and worked for until 2011, of harming her eponymous fashion label by asking Italian factories to refuse to work with her. The British designer has taken the first step in what may become a formal lawsuit by sending a cease and desist letter to Jimmy Choo CEO Pierre Denis.
The letter from Mellon’s lawyers, Olswang LLC, obtained by WWD, states that “Jimmy Choo has engaged in a course of conduct aimed at impairing our clients’ business by restricting its ability to source production capacity from the key suppliers to manufacture luxury leather products, including shoes, bags and accessories.”
“Mr. [Stefano] Savoldi [senior vice president, supply chain at Jimmy Choo Ltd.] said that there was concern at the London headquarters of Jimmy Choo regarding our clients’ ability to benefit from the same network of manufacturers and suppliers at Jimmy Choo,” the letter states.
“Mr. Savoldi made it clear that Jimmy Choo did not want their suppliers working with our clients. The key suppliers present at the meeting all worked with Jimmy Choo and would have understood this to refer to them. It would have been plain to each of the key suppliers present at the meeting that Mr. Savoldi was putting pressure on them not to work with the clients.”
Mellon’s legal team further claims that Jimmy Choo entered into contractual agreements with key suppliers which further prevented them from working with her.
Choo’s actions, claims the letter, were an infringement of Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which “prohibits agreements and concerted practices between undertakings that have the object or appreciable effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the EU and in particular those which restrict sources of supply.”
In response, a spokesman for Jimmy Choo said: “We have received a letter which is being evaluated. Our initial assessment is that the complaint has no merit and will be vigorously contested,” the statement read. “We plan to make no further comment until the process is completed.”
Mellon, 47, co-founded the iconic footwear brand with shoemaker Mr Choo in 1996 after meeting him whilst working as accessories editor at British Vogue. Choo sold his 50 per cent stake in the company in 2001, though Mellon later claimed he never designed a single shoe for the brand they had started together.
Mellon left in 2011, stating the company had become “frustrating” and “oppressive”. She launched her eponymous ready-to-wear and accessories brand in February 2013 following the expiration of her non-compete agreement with Choo.
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