NEW YORK — Kellwood Co. is standing behind Russell Simmons.

According to a published report Monday, Simmons was quoted in a civil deposition that he falsely stated his company’s volume “to mislead the public” as a way to develop an image for his company. When he appeared on CNBC in February 2003, he said Phat Fashions was doing upward of $350 million, when in fact, his revenue for 2002 totaled $14.3 million. Simmons gave the deposition as part of a lawsuit involving a longtime business partner.

Kellwood acquired Phat Fashions in January 2004 for $140 million in cash, plus significant incentives for Simmons and his wife, Kimora Lee, creative director of Baby Phat, based on the brands’ future growth.

“All the conversations Kellwood had with Russell have been accurate as it relates to the numbers,” said Donna Weaver, vice president of corporate communications for Kellwood Co. “Our relationship and experience with Russell has been positive and strong. Kellwood conducted an exhaustive due diligence examination of Phat Fashions prior to the purchase. The price was appropriate for the size of the business and business opportunities.”

Weaver added that Phat Fashions revenue was $500 million at retail when the firm was purchased and has generated $750 million in retail sales for the last 12 months.

“Business is doing well. The brand is expanding domestically with several new licensees and internationally in Spain, the Middle East and Far East where we continue to add licensees and international partners,” she said.

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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