Marc Jacobs has announced that he is quitting Louis Vuitton after 16 years as the Chief Creative Director. He is leaving to concentrate on his own label Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs to take it IPO. Today he showed his last collection for LV in Paris, as usually with a lot of stage drama. Most of models were in black colors and short silhouettes, it is up to us to interpret it in our own ways.
The reason of his leave – an IPO work, promotes him from a designer or creative director to a real businessman, a CEO, Financial Director and so forth. Ambitions are set high to repeat the legacy of Tom Ford, who also once left LV for his own label management. The leave was a success for Tom Ford who went off to independent life engaging in business of fashion and designing nothing. Who wants to stand near the drawing board with seamstresses when he can rub shoulders with financiers.
Nevertheless Louis Vuitton can’t keep unquestionably the most consistent and hardworking designer in the industry forever. Marc Jacobs brand was launched a year before the aspiring designer joined LV. Over the past 16 years he was splitting his time between LV collections and Marc Jacobs. His own label did very well opening stores all over the world and licensing his name to various initiatives, sunglasses and glasses included. A few years ago Marc Jacobs name was licensed to Safilo for undisclosed number of million dollars.
Int past 16 years Louis Vuitton brand survived China and recession. China posed a tremendous threat to the brand when LV trademark was not granted to Louis Vuitton, but other company who immediately started to copy LV products and sell them as real. Sales went global and confused consumer started to under-appreciate the brand and buy fakes as real. Louis Vuitton fought back by opening stores in central malls in Asia, suing eBay and significantly lowering the prices of their products to close the gap between real and fakes. It is not clear what role Marc Jacobs played in this strategy, but he surely learned enough business lessons to continue as independent businessman.
An IPO for fashion companies is a great marketing tool. We expect to see more free press coverage over the next year, just like it was with Prada two years ago before Prada IPOed in Hong Kong. IPO certainly allowed Muccia Prada cash out big, while quality of her products decreased dramatically. Entire legacy of Prada shoes was erased in one year when entire manufacturing was outsourced to Vietnam. No more Devil wears Prada. No doubt that the pressure to decrease costs to increase profit was posed by shareholders who cared for stock more than long term legacy of the brand. Reputation of Marc Jacob brand is potentially on the line as well. Today brand is known for it’s immense creativity, fun factor, reasonable price and quality. It is still quite a niche brand, and IPO could allow it to grow in a good sense. It will all be up to Marc Jacobs.