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While Mossimo Giannulli may have been primarily known for his multibillion-dollar company Mossimo, sold nationwide in Target’s clothing department from 2000 until 2017, the affordable fashion designer and his wife, actress Lori Loughlin, are now under scrutiny after a federal investigation known as “Operation Varsity Blues.”
The couple has been accused of bribing University of Southern California officials with up to $500,000 in an effort to secure enrollment of their two daughters (Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli) by having them designated as recruits to the college’s crew team.
The 55-year-old designer also has one son (Gianni Gene Giannulli, founder of the breakfast protein pastry company The Smart Co.) from a previous marriage. Giannulli met Loughlin at a restaurant in Los Angeles. After dating for two years, the pair eloped in Newport Beach on Thanksgiving Day in 1997. For their impromptu “I do’s,” they both wore ski hats and sweatpants.
In his early 20s, the Southern California born-and-bred Giannulli began to cull inspiration from his surroundings, ultimately resulting in an eponymous fashion line, launched in 1986, that celebrated beach culture. After borrowing $100,000 from his father and dropping out of USC in 1987, the former architecture student set up shop in a garage in Balboa Island at Newport Beach.
The men’s streetwear brand reeled in a cult following for its brightly hued volleyball shorts as well as signature T-shirts and surfer-inspired clothing branded with the letter “M.” In the mid-1990s, the brand expanded into woven sweaters, fleece sweatshirts, knits and tailored suiting and also added a line of womenswear.
After the brand went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, the company’s value spiked to $275 million. In March 2000, Giannulli brokered a multi-product licensing deal with Target, where Mossimo became a prominent fast-fashion label for 17 years.
In 2006, Giannulli sold the brand to its current parent company, Iconix Brand Group, which also owns London Fog, Candie’s, Ed Hardy, Joe Boxer and other fashion labels. Mossimo is currently distributed in the U.S., Mexico, Australia, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and South America. Last September, the brand released a collaboration with The Simpsons, which featured the cartoon characters emblazoned on an array of streetwear.
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