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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS

Mossimo Moves Out of County, Sparking Lawsuit by Landlord

November 07, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beleaguered clothing designer Mossimo Inc. has packed up what's left of its business and moved its headquarters from Irvine to Santa Monica, prompting a breach of contract lawsuit from its landlord, the Irvine Co.

The lawsuit says Mossimo reneged on its contract when it stopped making lease payments on, and then vacated, the warehouse it was renting from the landowner. The Irvine Co., based in Newport Beach, wants about $4.5 million in unpaid and future rent and other expenses.

Jody Love, vice president of finance for Mossimo, declined to comment about the lawsuit or the move.

Mossimo, which has long been struggling, struck a deal with Target Stores this year that will allow the brand to be sold only at the discount stores beginning next year.

Founder Mossimo Giannulli began snipping his ties to Orange County after marrying television actress Lori Loughlin in 1997. The following year, the designer sold his Laguna Beach home for $3 million and moved to Bel-Air, said Jeff Ewing, a Coldwell Banker agent in Newport Beach who handled the sale.

Giannulli also sold a five-acre parcel on the Newport Coast for $10 million, where he had previously planned to build a home, Ewing said.

Also in 1998, as Mossimo's troubles mounted, the company asked that the lease on its large headquarters in Irvine be modified and arranged for women's clothing maker Draper's & Damon's to take over a large chunk of the property, the lawsuit says. That cut Mossimo's monthly rent from $111,694 to $41,044.

But Mossimo stopped paying altogether in September and moved out last month, according to the claim, which was filed recently in Orange County Superior Court.

The Irvine Co. is asking for rent payments through the term of the lease, which it says runs through June 2007. The property owner maintains that it cannot re-lease the warehouse because of the way it was partitioned to divide the space between Mossimo and Draper's.

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