Some vendors to Kitson, which suddenly announced Thursday it was closing all of its 17 boutiques, claim the trendy retailer has been skipping out on some bills for more than a year.
According to three lawsuits, the West Hollywood-based chain has not paid a total of about $168,000 in bills.
The latest allegation came Friday when Laurice & Co. of New York, owner of luxury perfume brand Bond No. 9, which retails for up to $315 a bottle, claims Kitson owes it more than $55,000, according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Likewise, the owner of the Hollywood & Highland Center filed suit in June alleging Kitson owed nearly $72,000 in rent and fees for its shop. Kitson started falling into arrears beginning in March 2014, the suit claims.
Also, designer label Vivienne Westwood filed a complaint in October seeking more than $41,000 for clothing it had manufactured for the retailer.
Kitson executives did not respond to requests for comment.
The chain is known for celebrity clientele, particularly at its Robertson Boulevard shop near Beverly Hills. It sells gift and novelty items and apparel, much of it made by local companies and up-and-coming designers.
The chain said Thursday it would close all of its 17 locations, which are in California, Oregon and Nevada. Liquidation firms are to hold closeout sales. Kitson’s online store, shopkitson.com, only directs shoppers to its retail locations.
Signs of the chain’s financial distress began a year ago, said Jeanine Heller, founder of clothing and accessories label What About Yves in Plymouth, Mass. She said Friday that her company is owed more than $88,000, but so far she has taken no legal action.
“I’ve been trying for a year for them to pay up on their invoice,” she said. “They would always get a discount on top of wholesale (prices), which we didn’t afford other retailers, and they would have 90 days to pay. In the beginning, they were paying on time.
“I’ve been in contact with their attorney for the past month, who has already gone over my invoices and confirmed them,” she said. “They’ve already received the merchandise, sold and profited off of it. I’m just hoping that they do the right thing and pay their invoices. Otherwise I may go the legal route.”
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