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All That Jaz


Department-store staple Joseph Abboud has been spending some time in court lately, and not for the usual industry shenanigans. Abboud’s misstep this time was, of all things, designing clothes.

Back in 2000, Abboud netted a very respectable $65.5 million by selling the rights to his name to JA Apparel. But it seems his heart, and possibly also his name, was not entirely in the deal. In April of ’07 he made a few innocent-looking “loans” to Alden Shirt Company, only to emerge, after a few more intermediaries, with a new company, Jaz, completely separate from JA Apparel.

While JA is chasing a more mass market look, Abboud wants Jaz to stand alongside Armani and Zegna—even if it means a higher price tag and a smaller market share. But as he’s learning now, and as Jil Sander and Helmut Lang learned before him, style muses take a back seat to shareholders, and he doesn’t have much pull with them.

And with the lawsuit still raging, he may not even end up with a name.