Is Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton?

Unless you became a Louis Vuitton collector literally decades ago, you probably can’t imagine the brand without Marc Jacobs, Vuitton’s creative director of 16 years, who revolutionized the brand’s handbag business, started an industry-wide trend of artist collaborations and positioned the company firmly at the nexus of fashion and pop culture. Yesterday morning, though, Fashionista reported that industry rumors and its own anonymous sources indicate that Jacobs’ long tenure as head of the brand may be coming to an end when his contract runs out in 2014.

Vuitton and Jacobs are currently still in negotiations to renew the contract, and if Jacobs left, it would be of his own volition. After all, he’s presided over a decade and a half of record sales and profits for the leather goods company, and despite LVMH’s recent desire to take Vuitton in a direction that’s more appealing to the highest end of the market, the brand seems to be comfortable with the idea that Jacobs is still the man for the job. He may have other ideas, though, and in his absence, rumors indicate former Balenciaga chief Nicolas Ghesquiere might be the heir to the throne at the world’s most important luxury brand.

Jacobs recently appointed two high-profile names, Kate Hillier and Luella Bartley, to revamp his Marc by Marc Jacobs brand, admitting that it had fallen behind the burgeoning contemporary market. With the pressure of overseeing four full collections a year for three distinct brands, perhaps Jacobs thinks its time to scale back his responsibilities and focus on the lines that bear his name. In recent years, the Marc Jacobs brand has also fallen behind some of its competitors, especially in the uber-profitable accessories and shoe businesses, even though Jacobs’ shows are still among the most influential in the world. It’s been since the Stam Bag, in the mid-2000s, that Jacobs’ flare for accessories brought his own brand an overwhelming hit.

Although all of this is just gossip, it makes a certain amount of sense, considering the timing and strategies of all the brands and designers involved. The only real question I see involves Ghesquiere; although his motorcycle bags sold well at Balenciaga, his designs, no matter how beloved by fashion people, were generally not retail gold. For a company like Vuitton, that just won’t fly, even though he is unquestionably the most gifted free agent on the design market right now. With the devoted Vuitton fanbase and Ghesquiere’s artistic talent, though, commerce might not prove to be a problem, should these rumors turn into reality.

If you’re a fan of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs or Nicolas Ghesquiere (which might be all of you, actually), let us known your thoughts on these prospective moves in the comments!

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  • lavinia

    I have always wondered why Marc Jacobs did so well for LV and so bad for himself. His creations (particularly the accessories) are not so well focused on the market like the ones he created for LV (on for all? the creation of the neverfull in 2007). He did very weell for the brand and, inmy opinion, very bad for himself. He has to re-value his brand in order to gain the market. Maybe this back and forth between Paris and NYC is not so healthy on the long run…Balenciaga is not on top of my thoughts and I do not know how much Ghesquiere can take to the brand but you never know…:)

  • sara

    Ghesquiere doesn’t seem like the right fit for LV to me, but what do I know? We will see. Thoughtful and interesting post as always, thanks, Amanda!

  • Sandra

    Marc Jacobs is a fashion genius to me…..I have often wondered how he managed to pull it all off every season. I agree the his own brand suffered in the recent years and I would love to see him invest more of his time there. While LV is and always will be iconic and MJ has been wonderful at the helm, maybe it is time for a new perspective.

  • chloe

    Unlike many other prestigious fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior, LV never had a rtw collection before Marc Jacobs. If in any case Ghesquiere does become the new creative director, he will have two choices: either take the brand into a whole new way into his own looks or reinterpret MJ’s tenured collections because there is no such thing as LV archive. Basically Marc Jacobs is the DNA of the brand at least to the rtw collections but also to many of the leather goods that bare his own collaborations with significant artists. If you look at many of past LV and MJ collections, they are very similar every season in terms of style, cuts, prints, and themes. In comparison to the situation, Raf Simons at Dior is taking the brand into a more modern and minimal direction, but he still interprets Christian Dior’s archive, not Gallino’s Dior. On the contrary, Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent direction has been completely different from what YSL himself designed and Stefano Pilati had interpreted for the brand. Obviously the situation is completely different because Dior and YSL are brands that are valued for their original clothing designs unlike LV. It will be interesting to see Ghesquiere’s designs if he becomes the new LV creative director because his fashion aesthetics are completely different from MJ’s fashion aesthetics.

  • pixiegirlie

    I love what Marc’s done for LV, however I’ve always felt like his own line(s) could be more successful than they currently are. I can’t fathom why LV would bring in Ghesquiere so he can bring them down like he did with Bal? I feel like his designs are not inline with their current clientele, and more so could turn them onto other brands.

    • Regina George

      With all due respect, isn’t Ghesquiere responsible for revitalizing and transforming Balenciaga from what it was to one of the most successful and recognizable brands (moto bag etc)?

  • Jennie M.

    I agree that marc jacobs collection seems to be in the shadows of Louis Vuitton. I would like to see more especially from his handbags (Marc Jacobs Handbags). The stam the Venitia genius…quilted classics fantastic. It would be nice to see him expand and have more variation. I can’t see Louis Vuitton letting him go how ever it would be interesting to see how another great deisnger buts there own spin to Louis Vuitton. If he does leave, which I don’t see that happening, I hope to see him more involved with hais Brand (Marc Jacobs). Great Article.

  • ash

    I have to say that it’s probably time for Marc to leave Louis Vuitton, he did amazing at LV, but his brand really suffered in return.. I’ve noticed how his work for his brand and Louis Vuitton is so similar, only with different explanations. Nicolas seems to be a good choice just because I don’t think there’s really anyone else who can handle such a huge brand like Vuitton.

  • Veronica Salgado-Rocha

    what can I say.

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