Tamara Mellon, one of the founders behind Jimmy Choo has lost in her battle against the iconic designer-shoe company. Mellon, who departed from Choo in 2012 with an estimated $135 million after a strained relationship with partner Jimmy Choo, himself, filed a $4 million suit against her former company in September 2016, alleging that it was using underhanded business tactics to offset her new eponymous label’s success.
Mellon founded Jimmy Choo in the mid-1990s with its namesake designer before leaving in 2011. In her suit, which was filed in New York state court, Mellon claimed that Jimmy Choo sought to punish her when it learned she was about to start a new brand and publish a memoir. The court has since tossed out the case, according to Law360, with Judge Eileen Bransten holding that there are some basic holes in the allegations set forth by Mellon. Moreover, she held that "the employment contract that used to be in effect does not support the suit."
According to Mellon's complaint, an array of shoemakers refused to do business with her by way of her new company as a result of Choo allegedly blocking her from working with luxury shoemakers in Florence, Italy. Jimmy Choo’s pressure on suppliers has been “extremely serious” for Mellon, and as a result, the company was unable to secure production from the suppliers, and a number of Mellon’s pre-existing relationships have been terminated by those suppliers, according to the complaint. Mellon further claimed that the boycott caused Tamara Mellon Brand LLC to file for bankruptcy in December, costing her millions of dollars.
Mellon asserted in her complaint last year that while she was contractually barred from competing with Jimmy Choo for a year after leaving, once that period expired she faced no other restrictions. Senior management did not discourage her when she told them she planned to start her own brand after the non-competition period ended, she said.
Last in June 2016, Mellon made public a letter that her lawyer wrote concerning the matter. According to the letter, which Footwear News obtained at the time, “It has been brought to our attention that Jimmy Choo has engaged in a course of conduct aimed at impairing [Tamara Mellon and Tamara Mellon Brand LLC’s] business by restricting their ability to source production capacity from key suppliers to manufacture luxury leather products, including shoes, bags and accessories.”
The letter went on to say that after Mellon launched her namesake business in 2013, Jimmy Choo held a meeting with key luxury leather suppliers. During the meeting, the letter said, Jimmy Choo representative Stefano Savoldi told the group that “Mellon had established her own brand and this was causing ‘panic’ at Jimmy Choo headquarters.”
* The case is Tamara Mellon, OBE, v. Jimmy Choo Plc, 654771/2016, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).