Having helped to transform Vuitton from a staid luggage label into one of the most valuable fashion brands in the world, Jacobs has focussed on his own Marc Jacobs brand in both its main and diffusion ranges since his departure from the LVMH brand in 2013, overseeing successful fragrance, cosmetics, books and stationery launches in the years since its founding.
In 2015, Marc Jacobs folded its popular, lower-priced Marc by Marc Jacobs line. The move surprised many fashion insiders, given that British designers Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier had been brought in to revamp the contemporary label only two years earlier. But, by June 2018, the Marc Jacobs brand had been losing more than €50 million annually for the last few years, with flat revenues over that time period, estimated Luca Solca, then head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas.
Jacobs’s early experience in fashion was formed in 1978 whilst working as a store assistant at New York clothing boutique Charivari, where the 15 year-old struck up a friendship with Perry Ellis.
In 1981, following his graduation from the High School of Art and Design, Jacobs enrolled in Parsons the New School for Design, undertaking a degree in womenswear design. Jacobs’s senior year project consisted of three oversized sweaters hand-knit by his grandmother. He was awarded the young designer the school’s Chester Weinberg and Perry Ellis Gold Thimble award, as well as Design Student of the Year.
Reuben Thomas executive Robert Duffy scouted Jacobs to design for the company’s sportswear label Sketchbook. Charivari owner Barbara Weiser also contracted Jacobs to produce a range of his sweaters for her store and, in late 1984, the range was photographed by eminent New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham .
In 1986, Jacobs and Duffy launched their first design venture under the Marc Jacobs label, earning Jacobs the industry’s interest and a CFDA/Perry Ellis award for New Fashion Talent. In 1989, Jacobs joined Perry Ellis to oversee its womenswear, but was famously fired by management in 1993, following an unsuccessful grunge collection. Jacobs and Duffy launched the Marc Jacobs International company shortly after, creating a few independent collections, before selling 96 percent of the shareholding to LVMH in 1997. The sale coincided with Jacobs' appointment as Louis Vuitton 's artistic director.
Critical to Jacobs’ creative strategy at Vuitton were the designer’s hugely successful collaborations with contemporary artists, including Stephen Sprouse (2001), Takashi Murakami (2005), Richard Prince (2007) and Yayoi Kusama (2012). The Murakami collaboration alone generated $300 million in sales.
Holding a slew of titles to his name in recognition of his influential work, Jacobs’ numerous industry accolades include a series of CFDA awards, a plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame in New York City’s Garment District, as well as commendation as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for his contribution to French fashion. Jacobs and Duffy also jointly received Fashion Group International’s Superstar Award in Jacobs was named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the CFDA in 2016.