Co-founder and president of Marc Jacobs International LLC, Robert Duffy is the longtime business partner of the brand's eponymous designer. Credited as the driving force behind the brand’s hugely popular diffusion lines, Duffy has overseen the introduction of Marc by Marc Jacobs, Book Marc and most recently the Marc Jacobs by Sephora makeup collection.
A former buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, Duffy first met Marc Jacobs in 1983 at the Parson’s New School for Design graduate dinner while working as an executive at Reuben Thomas. Impressed by the young designer’s bold designs, Duffy signed Jacobs to design for Reuben Thomas’ sportswear label Sketchbook.
In 1986 the duo secured financing from Japanese retailer Onward Kashiyama and launched their first design venture under the Marc Jacobs label, earning Jacob’s industry interest and a CFDA Perry Ellis award for new fashion talent. In 1989 both Duffy and Jacobs joined Perry Ellis to oversee the womenswear department. Famously fired by management in 1993, the duo launched Marc Jacobs International shortly after and in 1997 Duffy negotiated a 96 percent investment in the company from LVMH following Jacobs' appointment as creative director of Louis Vuitton .
In 2015, one year after the buzzed-about relaunch of Marc by Marc Jacobs, it was announced that the diffusion line would be shutting down and folded into the Marc Jacobs brand, with Duffy stepping down from the company.