Wednesday’s news that Marc Jacobs would make his Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 show his last as the creative leader of the brand was a lot of things, but it wasn’t exactly surprising. Rumors had been swirling for months that talks to extend Jacobs’ 16-year tenure at the brand weren’t going anywhere, and in the days before the show, news outlets like Women’s Wear Daily reported that the decision had been made that Jacobs would leave to focus on expanding his own brand, in which LVMH is a major investor. It’s a major move that has a lot of implications across the fashion industry, starting with the rumors about who will take over at Louis Vuitton and what it means for the brand’s bags.

As much as Jacobs’ tenure at Vuitton is associated with prolific handbag sales and the emergence of Vuitton’s enormous profile among fashion lovers, the move (which Jacobs’ claims was made the morning of the Spring 2014 show – I’m not sure that I believe him) comes at a fortuitous time for brand. LVMH has made no bones about its desire to steer Louis Vuitton in the direction of more traditional luxury, and Jacobs’ aesthetic has always been more driven by splashy visuals and pop culture references than by what looks or feels obviously expensive. That served LV well for the better part of two decades, but as the tastes of high-end consumers shift to something more streamlined and, at times, discreet, it only makes sense that a change in creative talent would hasten Vuitton’s aesthetic shift. Not to mention that attaching a new name to a brand can powerfully alter consumer expectations and perceptions, beyond those based purely on aesthetics. If Vuitton wants to ask consumers to think of it differently, offering a completely new perspective increases the odds that consumers will be willing to listen.

Former Balenciaga creative director (and creator of the enormously successful Motorcycle Bags) Nicolas Ghesquiere is the most oft-heard name to replace Jacobs, and he’s rumored to have been in talks with LVMH for some time now. Those talks have yet to prove conclusive, but he would likely be the best choice for such a huge role. Not only is Ghesquiere widely considered a genius within the industry, but he’s the kind of big name that would excite fashion people and general consumers alike. Not only that, but he has proven skill at creating incredibly popular handbags, a category which is still Vuitton’s bread and butter and likely will be for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

That leaves Marc Jacobs, of course. He and LVMH head Bernard Arnault have gone out of their way to assure the public that the parting of Jacobs and Vuitton is an amicable one. (Jacobs thanked him by name in his final show’s notes, and they did an interview together afterward.) The most oft-heard explanation (and the one reiterated by Jacobs himself) for the split is that he wants to focus on his own brands, which have grown slightly dusty by certain measures in recent years. The company recently expanded into cosmetics, though, and with the kind of brand recognition that they have, there’s certainly room and opportunity to grow with all of Jacobs’ creative energy focused on their revival. The hope seems to be for an IPO in the next few years, perhaps inspired by Michael Kors’ recent public offering.

With all that in mind, the split between Jacobs and Vuitton may prove to be a well-timed one for both sides of the business. It still seems strange to consider a post-Marc Jacobs Louis Vuitton, but undoubtedly, the show will go on for all involved.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Sandra

    I really like Marc and all he has done for fashion. I think this is a win – win. His brand will become all that it should have been the entire time and if NG takes over Vuitton that should be exciting as well. I look forward to the innovation that should come from both houses.

    • My feelings are very similar – I’d love to see what can become of his brands when he really applies his talents to them, and I’d love to see Nicolas come back to fashion. Win-win.

      • budji3

        I so agree!

  • FashionableLena

    In order to make his brand into the billion dollar brand like Michael Kors or even Jessica Simpson, he’s going to have to offer a lower priced line. While I like Marc by Marc Jacobs, it’s still pricey. Much pricier than the Michael Michael Kors line. I can easily find a really nice MMK handbag for $300 (sometimes less). While the MbyMJ brand seems to be getting more expensive with hardly any bags for under $500. The make-up is pretty expensive as well.
    I also hope that he starts to elevate his design offerings. When is the last time that anyone was swooning or drooling over a Marc Jacobs bag? The Stam?

    • Guest

      Not sure how you can compare Marc’s to Jessica Simpson. They are not even the same caliber

      • FashionableLena

        I commpare them because Jessica Simpson is running a billion dollar business. She (or her advisors) knows how to make money in the fashion industry. Jessica may not have a luxury brand, but you can’t deny that she is making money hand over fist.
        I don’t own anything from JS except for a pair of flats so I’m not trying to white knight her. There are plenty of so-called high end/luxury brands that are not even close to the money or reach that she has. Like it or not, the woman is a bigger household name especially for those not into fashion.

      • Mimi

        I am sure Marc Jacobs has different market, can’t compare that to Jessica Simpson. She’s a businesswoman, you’re thinking from a low end market point of view. I am a big fan of MJ, if he lowers the price of his design, he’ll be just like Jessica Simpson, and I won’t buy that.

      • FashionableLena

        I guess that we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m a fan of Marc Jacobs and owns several of his handbags. There’s nothing wrong with him lowering his prices without sacrificing quality which is what Michael Kors did. And, I don’t consider MK to be a low end. I love his $300 bags just as much as the $16,000 handbag. I never said that Marc had to start making plastic handbags like JS.
        Marc Jacobs actually has 2 markets-Marc Jacobs which is high-end luxury and Marc by Marc Jacobs which is supposed to be a lower-priced line. I’m just curious to know how many $395 nylon handbags he’s selling. At the end of the day, he wants to make money from his label. If Marc is just in it for the artistry and design, he should just open a museum and charge admission.

    • Michael A

      Tory burch has a billion dollar brand as well and she has her prices the same as marc by marc.

    • Michael A

      Tory burch has a billion dollar brand as well and she has her prices the same as marc by marc.

  • alfredo gil

    PLEASE , we all know marc gave out all he had he is tired and wants to enjoy success ,world trends don’t favor his style , his brand will be out in two years, although he will have some real expensive locations to reinvent himself , LV needs to find an emerging designer , hand made ,exclusive , hidden mysterious and unique is back, please give the world a lesson of real class blueblood, let us know that there is a dominating class that leads the fashion world, surprise us….

  • Jennie M.

    I do think its a win win as well. I was just commenting on how lack luster Marc Jacobs has become….such a great brand that has dulled over time. I really do adore the older bags from his collection I honestly haven’t see any thing from 2011 to now that I was going gaga over (from an accessories point of view). His brand needs him and I think Louis could use new blood/a fresher perspective. I am excited to see whats to come for Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. Bravo Marc!