Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, CFDA Awards 2019

A former executive of Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s The Row is not happy.

David Schulte, who was president of the sisters’ minimalist luxury brand for three years before making an abrupt exit in October, last week filed a lawsuit in local New York court. Schulte is suing The Row, each of the Olsen sisters, who both oversee the brand and its designs, along with their larger company Dualstar Entertainment.

While the exact nature of the case is unclear, as the suit has been put under seal, meaning it cannot be accessed by anyone not directly involved, Schulte naming the sisters’ companies makes it almost certain that he’s seeking financial damages. Given the timing, it also seems likely that the suit is in some way related to his former employment with The Row.

The case was filed in New York, where The Row is based, but the law firm representing Schulte is based mainly on the West Coast. One of his attorneys is based in Los Angeles and described as experienced in “complex, high-profile disputes.” The other is based in New York, with a focus on “complex commercial litigation.”

A representative for Schulte could not be reached for comment, nor could a representative of The Row.

When Schulte left the brand last year, it was with no explanation from the company. When he came on in 2016, it was said to be with a mind toward expansion, with The Row looking to men’s wear and owned retail. The brand did both, launching men’s in 2018 and now has a store in each London, New York and L.A. It’s also starting to experiment with shops-in-shop. But revenue figures for the brand are hard to come by. WWD reported in 2015 that the brand was doing around $50 million in sales annually, but that figure has likely grown over the years.

Amid Schulte’s exit, The Row brought in Fabrizio Fabbro as its chief operating officer. Fabbro had been based in London and worked for more than a decade at Burberry. The company has yet to name a new brand president.

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