On Thursday, Lori Loughlin was freed from jail amidst an ongoing, headline-grabbing saga that sounds like it was ripped from a multi-episode arc of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Actresses Felicity Huffman and Full House ‘s Loughlin are among 33 parents (totaling to a staggering 50 people in six states) who have been charged with allegedly paying bribes (approximately $25 million, all told) to get their children accepted into elite schools.
It gets wilder with each detail: People were photoshopping their children into athletic groups, the FBI refers to the scam as “Varsity Blues,” and Sephora officially cut ties with beauty influencer Olivia Jade, Loughlin’s 19-year-old daughter with her husband of 22 years, Mossimo Giannulli.
Does the name “Mossimo Giannulli” ring a bell? It will if you’ve spent anytime in Target. Giannulli is the designer behind one of Target’s most visible brands since 2000. Until 2017, when the retailer began to phrase out brands that weren’t performing well, Mossimo was a mainstay at the beloved big-box store. As it turns out, Giannulli himself has his own checkered past with college enrollment.
In 1986, Giannulli started his label Mossimo — actually diverting his parents’ college tuition checks (for the University of Southern Calfornia) as start-up capital for his fashion venture. Olivia Jade talked about it on The Zach Sang Show earlier this month, saying: “He, like, built his whole entire brand and he wasn’t actually, like — I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this — ever enrolled in college. But he, like, faked his way through it and then he started his whole business with tuition money that his parents thought was going to college. That’s, like, such a different time. I don’t know if I was supposed to say that, but it’s OK.”
As fans of the label might know, Mossimo is as a mid-range American fashion label (Giannulli is a California native), specializing in children’s and juniors’ clothing like brightly colored shirts, jackets, denim, socks, and underwear. When he was pocketing his parents’ money in ’86, Giannulli was selling volleyball shorts out of his Balboa Island garage.
In 2006, the brand was acquired by Iconix Brand Group, which still remains a major stakeholder to this day, joining Joe Boxer underwear, Candie’s shoes and Badgley Mischka women’s wear. “He was the guy who took the surfer boy look and made it respectable,” Ilse Metchek of the California Fashion Association told The Los Angeles Times in 2006.
At the time this story was published, Giannulli had been released on a $1 million bond. Today, his net worth remains around $80 million — and we’d like think our sometimes aimless Target purchases have contributed greatly to that figure.
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