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Image: 6ix9ine

Fashion Nova was slated to get a new brand ambassador back in 2018. In exchange for an advance of $225,000, the fast fashion brand enlisted Daniel Hernandez – who is professionally known as 6ix9ine and Tekashi69 – to promote it on Instagram, and to mention its name in one of his music videos and in his song lyrics, but instead of carrying out his end of the bargain, the rapper and his people engaged in a “conspiracy to defraud Fashion Nova,” and pocketed the money before the rapper landed in jail two weeks later in connection with his alleged gang activity.

According to the complaint that Fashion Nova filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles this week, Hernandez and a handful of related defendants, such as MTA Booking, Inc., and Tr3way Entertainment, are on the hook for more than $2,225,000 in damages as a result of their “deceitful … conspiracy to defraud Fashion Nova,” which began when the defendants “sought out Fashion Nova” in October 2018 in order to secure a deal in which “Hernandez would provide marketing for Fashion Nova in exchange for an advance payment.”

The defendants “sought out an agreement with Fashion Nova,” the California-based retailer claims, because of its“prestigious influence and presence on social media platforms across worldwide,” and thereafter, the parties engaged in discussions about working together “to bolster Fashion Nova’sand [Hernandez’s]  reputations through joint posts on social media—i.e. Instagram.”

Fashion Nova claims that on October 31, 2018, it entered into a “contractual relationship with multiple parties,” including MTA Booking, Try3way Entertainment, and Daniel Hernandez, among others, in furtherance of which Hernandez would provide marketing for Fashion Nova in exchange for an advance payment of $225,000.

“Unbeknownst to Fashion Nova,” though, the defendants had already engaged in “premeditated discussions to conspire against [it] by inducing [it] to enter into a prepaid agreement advancing significant funds to [them],” Fashion Nova claims. So, while “Hernandez failed to provide any [of the agreed upon social media] posts [or placements in his music], he did manage to distribute the advanced payment amongst [his fellow] defendants before finding himself incarcerated only two weeks later.”

Ultimately, Fashion Nova claims that neither Hernandez nor the other defendants ever “intended to perform their obligations set forth in the agreement” despite entering into it and accepting the advance payment,” and instead, engaged in “sly deceit and sharp tactics” aimed at defrauding the fashion company. As such, in November 2018, “upon learning that Hernandez was incarcerated in New York,” Fashion Nova says that it “began demanding return of the advance” payment, and continued to do so until December 19, 2019, when “Hernandez was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to serious felony crimes and testifying against a New York gang called Nine Trey Gang.” 

In the course of his criminal proceedings, including his “criminal court testimony,” Fashion Nova claims that it learned that the reality of the situation “completely contradicted the defendants’ representations … about Hernandez being a great marketing prospect and a qualified person for the services promised in the service agreement.”

(It seems Fashion Nova’s team either failed to do its research before it enlisted Hernandez as an ambassador or it conveniently looked the other way – until now – in terms of the rapper’s well-documented past, some of which dates back to 2015 (three years before the parties’ agreement). On his rap sheet are cases initiated in multiple states charging him with choking a 16-year-old girl, assaulting a police officer, driving on a suspended license, posting a video online that depicted a 13-year-old girl engaged in a sex act (he pleaded guilty in 2015, and under the conditions of a plea deal, he agreed not to commit another offense for two years so that he could avoid registering as a sex offender), and violating multiple parts of his probation agreements all the while).

Nonetheless, as a “direct and foreseeable result” of this and of the defendants’ conspiracy, Fashion Nova claims that it has been damaged in a sum “greater than or equal to $2,225,000,” and has suffered from “reputational detriment that is irreparable and that has already cost Fashion Nova millions of dollars.” With that in mind, the fast fashion brand has set forth 13 causes of action, including breach of contract, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, conversion, unfair business practices, negligence, and fraud, among others. 

Meanwhile, Hernandez is also facing another lawsuit. The rapper – who is expected to be released from prison this summer after pleading guilty to nine federal felonies including racketeering conspiracy, firearms charges, narcotics trafficking, and violent crimes in aid of racketeering in December 2019 (after served 13 months while awaiting sentencing) – is named in a $150 million suit filed by a Jane Doe, who says that he was responsible for a gunshot wound she suffered to the foot during a revenge shooting that the rapper supposedly ordered. 

As for Fashion Nova, the brand is currently embroiled in a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit with Versace, which filed suit against it in November for allegedly highjacking a number of its legally-protected prints.

*The case is Fashion Nova, Inc., v. MTA Booking, Inc., et al, 20STCV10909 (Cal. Sup.).