Madonna has been a long-time fan of Ed Hardy but the label's popularity has been fading / Supplied
Ed Hardy's Westfield store shut
Row over contract agreement
Chief admits being behind on rent
ONE-time celebrity cult fashion label Ed Hardy has had a spectacular falling out with Australia's richest man, Frank Lowy.
Madonna might still be a fan but Ed Hardy's landlord isn't - all six Ed Hardy stores in Lowy's Australian Westfield shopping centres shut suddenly last week.
After months of wrangling with Westfield, the international label's Australian boss admitted to The Sunday Telegraph the company was struggling in the shopping centres.
The Sunday Telegraph understands the stoush erupted after the retail giant refused to allow chief executive Gary Berman to break contractual agreements in place since late 2008.
The store closures followed four months of meetings with Lowy's representatives, in which Mr Berman tried to extract his stores from the shopping centres after finding half of the sites were not performing. He admitted he had been behind on rent.
"I would say that on a couple of the non-performing sites, we had some slippage," Mr Berman said.
"They've either got their money or they're getting the money. I made the decision to do it all in one move, take the pain and take my medicine."
While he had not yet calculated his losses, he said doing so would make him "ill".
Staff closed all shops on June 29 and 30.
The brand still has 12 stores around the country and about 100 wholesale accounts.
The brand, by Californian designer Christian Audigier, was inspired by tattoo culture and burst on to the global fashion scene in 2005 - worn by everyone from Madonna and Britney Spears to David Beckham and Snoop Dogg.
But in recent times, a hate movement towards the brand has grown on the internet. Even one-time wearer Lara Bingle tweeted in May: "Madonna's love of Ed Hardy remains one of the great mysteries of our time."