Kitson Sued By Westwood, Gets Lifeline from Spencers

Prominent Los Angeles–headquartered boutique Kitson was sued by Vivienne Westwood on Oct. 2.

A-List Inc., which does business as Kitson, was sued for breach of contract by Rio Bravo Inc., which does business as Vivienne Westwood, the brand from influential British designer Vivienne Westwood. It also runs the Vivienne Westwood boutique in West Hollywood, Calif., which is a 10-minute drive from the Kitson flagship store.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, A-List made a deal with Rio Bravo for $41,363 worth of clothes in 2014.

A-List received the goods but never paid for them, the suit claims. In an answer to the complaint, attorneys for Kitson said that the “plaintiff voluntarily exposed itself to the injury it reportedly incurred with knowledge and appreciation for the risk involved.”

The adversaries are scheduled to go to a case management conference at Superior Court in Los Angeles on Feb. 16. Attorneys involved in the case did not return phone calls requesting comment.

The lawsuit was filed after what was a busy summer for Kitson. Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc., owner of a fleet of 650 novelty gift mall shops Spencer Gifts and Spirit Halloween Superstores, sent a lifeline to Kitson in June. The retailer, through its affiliate BHK Investments LLC, agreed to participate as a lender to Kitson to provide greater liquidity for the company, according to Alecia Pulman, a public relations representative who has worked on behalf of the company. She said that Spencer was part of a larger lending group.

The investment helped Kitson avoid filing for bankruptcy, according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, Kitson received a $15 million credit line from Salus Capital Partners, headquartered in Boston. The financing was used to take care of debt and provide working capital for the company.

Spencer Spirit is owned by Acon Investments LLC, a private equity investment firm with offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Kitson runs more than 18 locations across the United States. But it runs a concentration of its fashion and gift shops in Los Angeles’ Golden Triangle area, including more than four stores on Robertson Boulevard. It runs an emporium a few miles away in West Hollywood. The Kitson nameplate also does business in Japan. In March, Kitson bowed out of running two shops at Los Angeles International Airport after a disagreement with the Hudson Group, the company that operated the shops.

Kitson opened on Robertson Boulevard in 2000 and quickly developed a reputation as a place where celebrities would get photographed by paparazzi. The store also cultivated a reputation as being the place that would gamble on new contemporary, denim and pop-culture brands before they skyrocketed to popularity. Brands that have been sold at Kitson include True Religion, Wildfox Couture and Brian Lichtenberg.