As previously stated on this blog, I usually refrain from posting private and professional dealings in my life– it just has no place here. However, this is one that has been festering away at me for quite sometime, and now since the news is pretty much official, I feel it somewhat proper to let you all in on it.
Nearly the entire executive and design staff of skate and lifestyle-brand Comune abruptly quit the three-year-old Costa Mesa, Calif.–based label in a protest over the brand’s direction, company sources said.
The resignation of Frank Delgadillo, brand founder and president, and nine other top staff members was made public June 17 when Julie Shumaker, Comune’s vice-president of marketing, sent a mass email to retailers, manufacturers and friends of the brand. She said a brand investor had made a hostile takeover and sought to change the direction of the brand.
“Comune was never designed to be a mass-market brand,” she wrote in an emotional message.
The brand’s designers and executives disagreed with its partner, Los Angeles-based Komex International Inc., over the reported hiring of a new sales team, Comune sources said. Delgadillo declined to be interviewed for this story. John Inn, the co-owner of Komex, which manufacturers juniors label Bubblegum USA, declined to talk about the transition until next week.
The staff also was angered over Komex’s intent to cut the label’s sponsorship of a skate team, said Mike Quinones, Comune’s creative director, who left the company with Delgadillo. “We came to the industry with skate roots. I’d rather leave the brand than stick around and watch it turn into something we wouldn’t recognize,” he said. Comune designer Jake McCabe and a distribution staffer, Howie Marchbanks, remained with the brand.
Delgadillo will embark on a new fashion project in the near future, Comune sources said. Shumaker’s letter said the Comune staffers who resigned will “transition as a cohesive team.” The other team members leaving Comune are Mark Logan, brand manager; Matt Davis, vice president of sales; Clifford Lidell, graphic designer; Keri Banach, designer; Billy Garner, marketing coordinator; Sean Ciminesi, West Coast sales; and Cory Heenan, East Coast sales.
Delgadillo started the Comune label in 2008 shortly after he resigned from his position as president of Irvine, Calif.-based Ambiguous Clothing, a label he launched in 1996 out of his Chapman University dorm room. Again Delgadillo had a difference of opinion with the direction of that company. This time his dispute was with Ambiguous’ licensee holder, Ray’s Apparel, on the direction of the brand. While Ambiguous continues to find success, 25 people left that label after Delgadillo resigned. “Frank has more loyalty than any person I’ve met,” Quinones said.
Comune has been selling at a number of well-known stores such as Pacific Sunwear, Jack’s Surfboards and American Rag, Last September, it started a diffusion line called Sandinista for Pacific Sunwear that had a more economic price point than Comune’s.–Andrew Asch
What does this mean you say? Well if you look at the top right corner under “Who We Are”, you will see Commune with 2 M’s. That was my company/brand that I co-founded with my partner in 2005. Notice I said 2 M’s. It was a men’s lifestyle company creating contemporary garments that, at the time, was pretty much ahead of the curve– save for like-minded brands of trusted colleagues and friends such as Fiberops and The Lovewright Co., and you can’t forget about Shinsuke-san in Tokyo with Neigborhood. Now fast forward 3 years to 2008 and word started to brew around me that a certain Mr. Frank Delgadillo would be “heavily borrowing” (I prefer to call it stealing) from my label— lifestyle aspect, market segment, garment styles… even the name. Which is why I must reiterate 2 M’s. Long story short, after a lengthy legal process and tons of money spent, a classic case of Goliath stealing from David occurred. At the end of day, my partner and I had to walk away. With big financial backing at their disposal, we couldn’t continue to fight. So there it was– the last 5 years of both our lives were taken just like that.
With all that said, I have to give it up to Mr. Delgadillo and Mr. Quinones for painting/purporting (some call it posing) a said lifestlye. Sure fooled everyone right? Why try and cultivate when you can pay for it? Classic example was their yearly Karlson Tea Party– a fancy title to an art show featuring plenty of Socal’s chopper elite and their works at Comune’s headquarters. Pay enough to them to show up and make your brand look cool. Show looked great and the work and people involved are top notch I’m sure. But are you really fooling anyone? And it doesn’t stop there– our good friends over at WeAreNotYou have just posted some other interesting developments about Comune’s penchant for
biting/stealing “borrowing” from others’ work– check it HERE.
At the end of day– it’s all in the past. Water under the bridge I suppose. But I can tell you for sure… Karma is a Motherfucker…