Marc Jacobs

The Wonderfully Weird World of Marc Jacobs Marketing

He’s working late because he’s a designer!

For someone as chronically online as yours truly, it might come as a surprise (to no one in particular, really) that I’ve only existed within the social media multiverse for a (relatively) short stretch of time – roughly around the same point in pop-culture history when Armie Hammer got canceled for coming out as, well, a cannibal? 

In hindsight, I probably should have led with the return of Bennifer. 

(Also, please don’t cancel me.) 

But it is for this reason that I was somewhat late (in a Meta way) to discover the internet sensation that was the model Tereza Kubová, outfitted in towering Marc Jacobs platforms and a delightfully oversized Sack Bag, gracefully rolling down a flight of concrete steps – first appearing late last year on the brand’s Instagram.

Predictably, all of the Internet collectively had a fit: why was this (then-unknown, but nevertheless chic) woman casually hurtling herself down the stairs (and totally fine with it, too?!) Why had Jacobs only chosen to caption “The XL Sack Bag” by means of explanation? Was this a heralding of the downfall of the fashion industry?

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Marc Jacobs XL Sack Bg
Marc Jacobs The Spots XL Sack
$795 via Marc Jacobs

While we never really got any answers, we got our first glimpse into the second coming of Marc Jacobs. And it’s every bit as delightful as it is bizarre!

Jacobs, the Jolly Troublemaker

Now, Mr. Jacobs has always been the fashion industry’s resident mischief-maker.

Right from his divisive grunge collection for Perry Ellis Spring/Summer 1993, where his juxtaposition of granny dresses with Doc Martens had Vogue’s Suzy Menkes declare, “Grunge is ghastly” (and cost Jacobs his job), the man has been turning the heritage fashion’s grim-faced self-seriousness on its head. 

And it was this willingness to take risks – to cast Victoria Beckham inside a giant paper shopping bag, display leather jackets inside glossy spreads of scrawny-faced (read: hot rodent) white men in tighty-whities, or send Ubers filled with daisies down the streets of Manhattan – that got him his gig as the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton.

The rest, as we know, is fashion history—or at least until 2014, when his tenure at the storied house—and with that, his Marc by Marc Jacobs and Stam bag-fueled popularity streak—came to a grinding halt. 

By January 2017, Bernard Arnault of LVMH declared he was “more concerned about Marc Jacobs than the U.S. president.” The final nail on the proverbial coffin seemed to be Jacobs’ Fall 2018 collection, presented at the Park Avenue Armory, which The Cut’s Cathy Horyn likened to a “sumptuous funeral.”

Marc Jacobs Fall 2018
The “sumptuous funeral” of Marc Jacobs Fall 2018, image via Vogue Runway

The torch of mischief, it seemed, had been passed onto the young Virgil Ablohs, Simon-Porte Jacquemuses, and Demna Gvaslias of the world – a world now devoid of a place for the very person who’d invented the genre!

The Makings of a Meme-Lord

Thankfully, though, like the earth occasionally decides to recede into the Ice Ages, Jacobs’ age of iciness came to a thaw right around the pandemic. And out of the quarantine-sweatpants-hellscape emerged the breath of fresh air that was Heavn.

Or Heaven by Marc Jacobs, if we must address it by its official name. A collection primarily meant for our (inner) teens, it channels the original grungy glamour of MbMJ via mini-skirts and tiny bags in all their glue gun glory. It’s masterminded by creative director Ava Nirui, famed for bootlegging Prada dustbags into dresses.

Pam Anderson Heaven Marc Jacobs
Pamela Anderson for Marc Jacobs Fall 2022 Heaven Collection ©Harley Weir

It was originally as part of Heaven’s tongue-in-cheek TikTok presence that the brand began to rope in a handful of highly specific celebrities to suit the highly specific needs of its niche following. Names included Winona Ryder and Pamela Anderson, as well as Charli XCX, Ice Spice, and M3GAN, the AI doll.

But Jacobs broke the internet when the strategy seeped into his namesake label, starting with a hotly discoursed Kim Kardashian collab last August. 

Now the label’s TikTok – and for the benefit of us non-TikTokers, Instagram too – regularly features a cast very much on brand with Gen Z’s odd sense of humor: from Chick-fil-A Sauce Girl Gina Lynn guiding us through an MJ store while making faces (finally closing with an “I don’t work here”), to the Sylvanian Drama plushies bandying about micro-versions of The Tote Bag, to Lil Uzi Vert struggling to enter an elevator balancing a giant wedding cake and another Tote Bag, to Kubová the stuntwoman rolling down the stairs while holding onto The Sack Bag for dear life.

None of it makes sense, and that’s really kind of the whole point.

Marc Jacobs Meme
Photo via Marc Jacobs TikTok (@marcjacobs)

Viral (in the Best Way Possible)

At the end of the day, you could only go so far with TikTok’s guest login, so of course, I have no idea what the TikTok Rizz party stands for, or why Alex Consani is so famous, or, for that matter, how the Teletubbies even fits into the picture. What I do know, however, is that they continue to be part of the crazy crew of madcap misfits continually championing the brand while staying true to their, erm, art form.

Sabrina Carpenter MJ Sack Bag
Sabrina Carpenter with the Mini Sack Bag, $325 via Marc Jacobs

Thrown further into the motley mix are artist Cindy Sherman, photographer Juergen Teller, actress Dakota Fanning, models Lila Moss, Vittoria Ceretti, Irina Shayk and Anok Yai, singer-songwriters FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, Gabbriette and Sabrina Carpenter.

Ironically, they’re all channeling the office siren subculture’s nonplussed distaste for the workplace while physically in or near the brand’s offices (Jacobs himself is seen running away from a cake on fire with a Tote Bag in hand).

It’s just the self-deprecating kind of humor that’s so characteristic to the Gen-Z – and utterly baffling to anyone who’s not (and sometimes myself). And that’s just as well – Gen-Zers are, after all, the “new adults.” In related news, I’m old now.

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Marc Jacobs The Clover Bag
Marc Jacobs The Clover Shoulder Bag
$250 via Marc Jacobs

Plus, it’s certainly one hell of a turnaround from back when the New York Times declared that Marc Jacobs had fallen ‘out of fashion’ and ‘no longer understood what customers want.’ The only thing left for him to do now is perhaps release a version of The Sack Bag in the same shade of slimy green as Charli XCX’s Brat.

After all, he’s in his brat era now.

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Sara
Sara
1 month ago

This was such a fun read! I love the current “era” of Marc Jacobs. It is weird and wonderful in the best way!

King Charles' Inkpot
King Charles' Inkpot
1 month ago
Reply to  Sara

Right? Current Marc Jacobs is the right balance of whimsy, wacky, and pure design that made us fall in love with his work all those years ago. Glad to see him back like he never left.
*Sajid, it’s always a pleasure reading your work, you’re like the online bestie I wish lived close enough to banter with 🙂

Bianca
Bianca
1 month ago

Really? Current Marc Jacobs is lazy mass-market crap. No design innovation, no style.

Heather
Heather
1 month ago

It seems like MJ is spending too much time making Tik Toks videos and not actually designing anything. I never understood why anyone bought a non-descrip to toe bag with the words, “The Tote Bag” on the side. Now we’ve got a “Sak Bag.” How revolutionary. There’s certainly more creativity in his antics than his actual designs. And I looked both of his lines back in the day. MbyMJ clothing was IT.