LOS ANGELES — Restless denim guru Michael Glasser, one of the visionaries behind two contemporary labels that are on track to gross a combined $190 million in sales this year, is on the move again.
Glasser has exited his latest denim brand, Citizens of Humanity, fresh off a court decision this month that awarded the Seven for All Mankind co-founder and his business partner in both lines, Jerome Dahan, almost $56 million in damages arising from a dispute with their former financial backer. Dahan recently bought Glasser’s 39 percent stake in the 18-month-old Citizens, which is projected to hit $60 million in sales in 2004 and is carried at Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Selfridges, American Rag in Los Angeles and Scoop in New York. Terms of the deal, which went into effect Sept. 17, weren’t disclosed, although Glasser did say that the payout will extend over a multiyear period.
“We agreed and disagreed where the line was going, and it was time for me to move on,” Glasser explained.
He said his plans were uncertain and might include anything from the launch of a new line to the endowment of a foundation. Glasser has been fielding calls from stores that want to talk about their businesses, as well as others seeking new partnerships, he said.
Glasser, a single father, also said he wants to spend more time with his 14-year-old daughter, Aryn, and his 17-year-old son, Derek. “This is when they need me, and I want to be there for them,” he said.
A spokesman for Dahan declined comment.
Glasser is a 30-year veteran of the apparel industry. He helped launch denim company French Dressing, sportswear label Bronx and Democracy, which was sold to Kellwood Co. His biggest success was the creation of Seven, which is projected to rack up $130 million in sales this year. Seven was the linchpin of a high-profile trial involving a partnership gone bad.
Dahan and Glasser left Seven in December 2002 and filed a fraud and breach of fiduciary lawsuit against their financial backer, Peter Koral, owner of Los Angeles-based knitwear company L’Koral Inc., alleging they were shortchanged in profits. They accused Koral of plowing the money back into his existing business and reneging on an oral agreement to make Seven for All Mankind a separate company from L’Koral.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with Dahan and Glasser regarding their 50 percent ownership stake. Koral’s lawyers have said they will appeal.
Theirs is yet another denim partnership that has unraveled. In the last two months, Joie founders Joie Rucker and Sean Barron parted and Adriano Goldschmied sold his trademark to partner Koos Manufacturing.
“As the jean turns,” said Thomas George, owner of E Street Denim in Highland Park, Ill. “What you’re seeing is a state of flux in the industry. It’s gotten so intense and there’s so much money on the table, I don’t blame anybody for cashing out.”