Hilarious Feud Erupts at Jay Kos, New York City’s Bougiest Boutique newsusface

The Jay Kos clothing store in the Soho section of Manhattan is designed not just for the ultra-rich, but for members of the privileged elite who like to marinate in their wealth. The trucker hats sell for $150, the green alligator skin sneakers cost $8,500, and customers are allowed inside only after submitting a formal request and receiving sign-off from the proprietor. What could be more elegant than jogging in the skin of America’s largest reptile?

And yet, even such temples to opulence are apparently not immune from petty squabbling. A lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court on Thursday accuses Jay Kos and its owner, Jay Koslowsky, of refusing to honor a barter agreement with a lawyer who had discussed being paid with free clothes.

Among plaintiff Robert Werth’s many complaints: He physically couldn’t try on the merchandise. “Yet another thing he never mentioned,” Werth wrote in the filing, referring to Koslowsky, “was that for my body type, which is not exactly trim, I do not fit into virtually any of his in stock clothing.”

According to the lawsuit, Koslowsky and Werth live in the same building and have known each other for more than a decade. In 2021, Koslowsky allegedly asked Werth whether he would represent Jay Kos as it negotiated for a new commercial lease.

Werth acknowledged in the lawsuit that he never signed a formal contract. But he trusted Koslowsky, he wrote, adding that “I received a lot of ‘don’t worry about it’, ‘we’ll take good care of you’, ‘you’re golden’ sort of verbiage.”

Still, when discussing details of the possible trade, Koslowsky wouldn’t tell Werth what various items might cost, the filing claimed, making it hard for the lawyer to measure his potential compensation. Werth says they still haven’t resolved the issue, nearly two years since he wrapped up his work.

“At this point, I wouldn’t trust a word Kos stated to me about his costs were I even able to fit into the store’s offerings,” Werth wrote. He claims that he did nearly 50 hours of work for Jay Kos, which he values at $31,125, at a rate of $625 per hour.

“This is the second time in 32 years of practicing law that I have been constrained to file suit against a former client. I do not do this lightly and it [is] in fact sad to me,” he wrote.

In interviews with The Daily Beast, Werth and Koslowsky’s former business partner, Tom Rabolli—who is also listed as a defendant—offered competing sets of facts. (Koslowsky declined to comment; reached by phone Thursday morning, he wasn’t yet aware he had been sued.)

Rabolli questioned the notion that Werth couldn’t fit into any of the store’s clothing, noting that items could be altered or made in larger sizes. (“Could you always alter things, I suppose so, but that wasn’t discussed,” Werth said in reply.)

Furthermore, Rabolli depicted Werth as a “longtime customer” who had purchased merchandise many times before. “If he gained weight, he gained weight. We can make things in bigger sizes,” he said. (“That’s not true,” Werth retorted. “I shopped there one time.”)

Rabolli insisted he had few interactions with Werth and that Koslowsky handled 99% of the discussions. (Werth’s reply: “That’s actually absolutely false… I winded up having the majority of business interactions with Tom.”)

Rabolli called his old partner “a brilliant designer” who has “always been a very nice person to me.” (In Werth’s view, his neighbor has been “invariably rude” and “cantankerous.”)

Did they have an established agreement? Rabolli: “We were willing to honor our deal for store credit, [but] all of a sudden he wanted cash.” (Werth: “I wouldn’t describe it that way at all…I was willing to accept some merchandise in exchange for lowering the bill, but he refused to give me pricing on it.”)

Rabolli ultimately deferred to Koslowsky on most issues, saying he didn’t know details about “the beef” between the former acquaintances.

To Werth, the issue is clear cut. “They left me no choice,” he said, then singled Koslowsky. “This is a man that sells $150,000 real fur, real animal materials, which I personally found disgusting.”

In the end, the court may need to weigh in. As for prospective Jay Kos shoppers who don’t make it through the vetting process, don’t give up hope. “If you knock on the door,” Rabolli said, “he’ll probably let you in.”

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