SINGAPORE — The owner of alldressedup, a Singapore-based women’s wear label, is facing a legal battle with a former landlord.
Tina Tan-Leo, the brand’s founder, used to run a luxury store in Singapore called Living The Link before it underwent liquidation in 2010. The store’s landlord, Desmond Chong, has accused Tan-Leo of breach of fiduciary duty in a lawsuit filed last week.
Tan-Leo has denied the charges and plans to file her defense with Singapore’s High Court on Friday, according to Lionel Leo, Tan-Leo’s husband and the chief executive officer of Fashionation, the holding company of her label and other assets. BDO LLP, the business consultancy firm employed by Chong as a liquidator, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The landlord alleges that Tan-Leo transferred 7.29 million Singapore dollars, or $5.73 million at current exchange, of cash and assets in 2008 and 2009 from Living The Link to alldressedup and The Link Boutique, a luxury fashion and matrimonial wear chain she runs with branches in Singapore and Shanghai.
The lawsuit also claims that Tan-Leo and her husband allegedly used company funds for personal expenses such as a country club membership.
Lionel Leo denied the allegations. “We are of the opinion that there was no wrongful doing or breach of fiduciary duty,” he said. ” It is proper for us to return assets to the rightful owner.”
Leo said that cash and assets from the Living The Link store were transferred to alldressedup and The Link Boutique to finance obligations due to the latter two companies, which were creditors to the shuttered store.
“When we founded Living The Link, there was nothing there,” he said. “The Link and alldressedup supplied all the assets and funding to the company, with the understanding that it would have to be paid back. When we realized we were in no position going forward, the decision was made to return [the assets].”
He also dismissed the allegations of misuse of company funds for personal expenses. “Business was not good and we were not paid a salary,” he said. “The company owed us money and paid for some expenses. That’s normal.”
Leo said the lawsuit stemmed from a dispute over rent. “We terminated the lease [early] because the we couldn’t complete our ‘Living The Link’ concept,” he said. They had intended to set up a café in the store but there was not sufficient electricity to power both retail and cafe operations, he said.
Tan-Leo is one of the more prominent players in Southeast Asia’s fashion scene. Alldressedup, which was launched in 2005, has shown at New York and Paris fashion week and is stocked across 20 cities globally.
Tan-Leo is credited with having brought Versace to Singapore and at various points, held the local distributorships for brands like Roberto Cavalli and Chloe. She also operates a joint venture to distribute Etro, the Italian fashion label, in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.