POLLINI FOOTWEAR ON THE ROCKS: Armando Pollini, also known as the “King of Elast” for his elastic fabric footwear, may have to shut down his business, weighed down by $3 million in debt. In a phone interview, Pollini attributed the debt to hefty investments in a new manufacturing and design research plant, just months before the footwear industry was hard hit by a stall in the economy in 2001 and the post-Sept. 11 aftermath. Pollini’s main markets are Germany and the U.S. The designer said his company’s sales have dropped as much as 40 percent compared with three years ago. “I am in talks with several investors and hope to be able to save my company and reestablish my brand,” said Pollini, who started his career in the Sixties and founded his company in 1981. The line is carried by 280 sales points around the world. There is no relation between the designer and the Pollini accessories and ready-to-wear company owned by Aeffe, the Italian luxury goods group that produces Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Narciso Rodriguez and Jean Paul Gaultier.

SPEARS, SKECHERS SETTLE: Britney Spears and Skechers USA Inc. have settled the breach of contract lawsuits filed against one another regarding an endorsement deal gone bad, a company spokeswoman said. In a lawsuit filed in December, Spears had sought $1.5 million in damages from the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based footwear company, claiming it used her celebrity to sell its proprietary line of roller skates rather than the Britney 4-Wheelers skating line she helped design. Skechers countersued in March for reimbursement and damages in excess of $10 million, saying the pop singer cost the company sales by delaying approval of product designs, manufacturers and advertisements. The mutual settlements were approved last week by a Los Angeles federal judge. The terms remain confidential.

SABBATH FARE: French Connection Group has paid $20,000 to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim involving an individual’s right to leave work early to honor the Sabbath. The job applicant, an Orthodox Jew, was offered a position as a trim buyer at the firm’s Seventh Avenue office, but the offer was rescinded following the company’s refusal to adjust her work schedule for religious reasons. According to the EEOC, the settlement includes FC’s adoption of a new corporate-wide policy prohibiting religious discrimination.

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