Valentino sues NYC landlord claiming Fifth Ave is no longer ‘prestigious’ after COVID-19 outbreak

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Italian designer brand Valentino is suing the landlord of its flagship store on New York City‘s Fifth Avenue, claiming the location is no longer considered prime real estate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-story retail experience closed to in-person customers alongside many other non-essential businesses when the state went on lockdown in March.

Recently they removed plywood put up to protect the store during Manhattan riots that hit the area where data from property brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield states rents averaged $2,513 per square foot when Valentino’s lease began in August 2013.

But as the store partially returns to use with curb-side pickup for purchases made online, Valentino has filed a lawsuit to get out of its 16-year lease with Savitt Partners LLC, nine years early.

Valentino is suing the landlord of its flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. People walk past the Blancpain and Valentino store boarded up windows on Fifth Avenue on June 2 amid a week of rioting in Manhattan

Valentino says the contract for them to use the space is 'consistent with the luxury, prestigious, high-quality reputation of the immediate neighborhood' but the brand claims 'business at the premises has been substantially hindered and rendered impractical, unfeasible and no longer workable' due to coronavirus

Valentino says the contract for them to use the space is ‘consistent with the luxury, prestigious, high-quality reputation of the immediate neighborhood’ but the brand claims ‘business at the premises has been substantially hindered and rendered impractical, unfeasible and no longer workable’ due to coronavirus

Many retailers have become limited when it comes to navigating customers trying on clothes and accessories in-store due to social distancing and hygiene standards to protect against contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19.

Situated at 54th street, two blocks south of Trump Tower and with neighbors including Versace, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, the high-fashion brand claims the stretch of designer boutiques in the 10-blocks leading up to Central Park, are no longer desirable.

Even as brick-and-mortar stores reopen, footfall in the area, which boasts the popular tourist spot Saks Fifth Avenue, has drastically decreased.

In the lawsuit they note the lease had a provision about them using the space ‘consistent with the luxury, prestigious, high-quality reputation of the immediate Fifth Avenue neighborhood.’

‘In the current social and economic climate, filled with COVID-19-related restrictions, social distancing measures, a lack of consumer confidence and a prevailing fear of patronizing, in-person, “non-essential” luxury retail boutiques, Valentino’s business at the premises has been substantially hindered and rendered impractical, unfeasible and no longer workable,’ Lucas Ferrara of Newman Ferrara LLP filed on behalf of Valentino.

Valentino is pictured before the shutdowns

A lawsuit states the situation is unlikely to change 'even in a post-pandemic New York City (should such a day arrive)'

A lawsuit states the situation is unlikely to change ‘even in a post-pandemic New York City (should such a day arrive)’. Valentino is pictured before the shutdowns (left and right)

The brand argues the situation is unlikely to change ‘even in a post-pandemic New York City (should such a day arrive),’ the Wall Street Journal reports.

The court filing claims that a lawyer representing the landlord sent a letter on Friday disagreeing that Valentino has a right to surrender the lease.

Robert Cyruli of Cyruli Shanks Hart & Zizmor LLP, is representing the landlord and declined to comment to the WSJ: ‘My client won’t be litigating through the media.’

Victoria’s Secret also recently filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get out of a lease for its New York Herald Square branch.

Brands such as Valentino are thought to be focusing on e-commerce after the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week Valentino and Amazon filed a joint lawsuit against New York-based Kaitlyn Pan Group for allegedly counterfeiting Valentino shoes and offering them for sale online.

Rents averaged $2,513 per square foot when the lease began on the three-story location in August 2013

Rents averaged $2,513 per square foot when the lease began on the three-story location in August 2013

The move is Amazon’s first joint litigation with a luxury fashion brand and Valentino’s first with an online retailer.

The lawsuit regards the Valentino Garavani Rockstud shoes and the fashion group will receive any proceeds from the case, the companies said in a statement.

Amazon has long been rumoured to be readying a new luxury fashion site to rival Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion, but LVMH and other top luxury groups say the risk of counterfeiting is high on such platforms.

Amazon said it had shut down Kaitlyn Pan’s seller account on its platform in September 2019.

‘Despite multiple notices of infringement and a cease and desist order, Kaitlyn Pan continues to import, distribute, sell, and offer infringing products on kaitlynpanshoes.com,’ the companies said.

They added Kaitlyn Pan had tried to apply for a U.S. trademark for the Garavani Rockstud shoes, ‘flagrantly and willfully disregarding Valentino’s intellectual property’.

The area is home to tourist hotspot Sakes Fith Avenue which is especially busy around the holiday season

The area is home to tourist hotspot Sakes Fith Avenue which is especially busy around the holiday season

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