Rhude streetwear founder raided company to fund lifestyle, lawsuit says

Rhuigi Villasenor, in jeans, loafers and white suit coat, lounges on a white couch with drink in hand.
Rhuigi Villaseñor, a self-taught designer from the Valley who founded the popular brand Rhude, has been accused of financial misconduct in a suit by a business partner.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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The designer behind the Los Angeles-based streetwear company Rhude, a favorite brand of Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, Saweetie and many other celebrities, was accused in a federal lawsuit this week of raiding company funds to live like one of his rich and famous clients.

The owner of a minority stake in the clothing line alleged in U.S. District Court in L.A. that designer Rhuigi Villaseñor “has been pilfering the Rhude Companies’ coffers to support” a “lavish lifestyle” that includes private jet travel, Italian vacations, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and a collection of $100,000 watches.

George Robertson, who owns 20% of Rhude, alleged in the suit that Villaseñor boasted of annual revenues in excess of $30 million but made distributions of as little as $41,000 a year to his co-owner.


“He has taken advantage of his power and control over the Rhude Companies’ products, designs, bank accounts and financial records to enrich himself to Robertson’s detriment,” the suit alleges.

Through his attorney and publicist, Villaseñor, 32, declined to comment.

Robertson is seeking compensation, a chance to inspect the company books and removal of Villaseñor’s control of the company.

Villaseñor, a self-taught designer raised in an undocumented Filipino family in the San Fernando Valley, has become an industry darling in recent years. The Swiss fashion house Bally appointed him design director last year, though the position was short-lived. He departed in May.

He founded Rhude in 2015 with an aesthetic he honed hunting through Goodwill after school. He has described his style as “what I would buy if I had money when I didn’t have any money.”

The mix of luxury and street style attracted hip-hop artists and NBA stars. Among its best-known products are “traxedo” pants, track pants with high-end finishes that sell for $800 and have been worn on stage by Ellen DeGeneres and A$AP Rocky.

Robertson got a stake in the company after investing $50,000 in 2016. An entrepreneur and music agent, Robertson also co-wrote the 2011 LMFAO hit “Sexy and I Know It,” and according to his suit, he provided “industry connections” that helped the brand.


The pair fell out in 2019. Robertson contends that Villaseñor “grew jealous” that he had come up with the idea for the “traxedo” pants and other bestsellers and banished him from the office.

To hide revenue from him, Robertson alleges, Villaseñor “routinely sold and continues to sell [Rhude] goods to VIP clients — many of them NBA players, celebrities and musicians — in private sales” and kept the proceeds for himself.

The sides made unsuccessful attempts to resolve their dispute, with Villaseñor in 2021 offering to pay Robertson $5 million for his share of the company, according to the suit.

Speaking to The Times in 2021, Villaseñor acknowledged he had a taste for the finer things.

“After these Italian trips I’ve been taking, I love a villa,” he said. He never forgot his roots, though, he said, and still visited the Goodwill where he found inspiration as a teen. “I love the Valley.”