Marc Jacobs is an American fashion designer renowned for his eponymous clothing label, its diffusion line Marcy by Jacobs, and his creative directorship at Louis Vuitton. He ranks among the best New York clothing designers, having been included in “TIME 100: The Most Influential People” in 2010 and Out Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America” in 2012. Here, let’s discover more about his life, journey, and success, and how he continues to be one of the powerhouses in the fashion world.
Hailing from New York City, Marc Jacobs was born on April 9, 1963, to a Jewish family. At the age of 7, his father died due to ulcerative colitis. His mother didn’t recover much from the unfortunate event, remarrying and divorcing three times. Each of the failed marriages required their family to relocate, forcing Jacobs and his siblings to New Jersey, Long Island, and Bronx.
Feeling detached from his own family, Jacobs moved to Manhattan’s Upper West Side as a teenager and lived with his paternal grandmother. She served as a big influence on Jacob’s life and has been very encouraging and supportive of the latter’s endeavors in life. Teaching Jacob how to knit, she has also been instrumental in the teenage boy’s interest in fashion designing.
At the age of fifteen, Jacobs worked as a stock boy at Charivari, an upscale avant-garde clothing boutique. Amidst his tasks of dressing and arranging mannequins and folding garments, Charivarir’s staff allowed Jacobs to create sweater designs for the store.
In 1981, he graduated from high school and went on to study at the coveted and world-renowned Parsons School of Design. In his final year at Parsons, Jacobs was given some of the institution’s highest honors: awards: the Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award, Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award, and Design Student of the Year Award, proving his innate prowess in fashion designing.
His awards were mainly due to his graduation project, a collection of oversized hand-knitted sweaters, which enticed much interest during his graduation. Charivari subsequently bought the collection to be professionally produced and sold in their boutique. Barbara Weiser, one of the boutique’s founders, marketed it under the label Marc and Barbara and became well-received.
In 1984, Jacobs was hired straight out of school by Robert Duffy, then-executive of clothing manufacturer Reuben Thomas, Inc. Serving as the formal beginning of his formal career, he designed his first collection, under the company’s Sketchbook label. In the same year, the two became business partners and creative collaborators after they formed Jacobs Duffy Designs, Inc.
Securing funding from Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc., Jacobs established his own label Marc Jacobs and released his first collection in 1986. Brimming with talent, he received the Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent from the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) in 1987. He became the youngest-ever recipient of the said award, one of the highest accolades granted in the fashion industry.
Perry Ellis Stint
Following the death of its namesake founder in 1988, Jacob was appointed as the vice president of the womenswear design unit of the fashion clothing brand, Perry Ellis. It is during his employment with this company when he received international acclaim, resulting from his neoteric “grunge” collection in 1992. Deviating from the usual norms, the monumental style showcased unorthodox blends of styles and featured gaunt-figured models, a direct opposite of then-popular curvaceous and glamorous looks.
Despite being awarded as CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year (1992) and receiving positive reviews from the press and other critics, Jacobs was terminated from Perry Ellis in 1993 due to the infamous collection. Many deemed the company hated Jacob’s revolutionary designs, which immensely veered away from the company’s clean-cut image.
His signature brand made a comeback the same year after Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. launched the Marc Jacobs Int. Company in 1993. Jacobs released his first line of menswear the following year and the eponymous label proved to be a massive success.
In 1997, he joined Louis Vuitton as a creative director and spearheaded the fashion house’s first ready-to-wear line. It was a momentous part of his career, as he helped the company reap huge profits and evolved from being a sole luggage firm to a solid powerhouse in the fashion realm. Some of his iconic collaborations were with Steven Sprouse, Kanye West, Takashi Murakami, Julie Verhoeven, Richard Prince. All that happened while having the opportunity to grow his eponymous brand, as LVMH also bought stakes in his business.
In 2001, his brand saw global expansion after launching Marc by Marc Jacobs, an affordable sportswear line. In 2005, he then launched Little Marc Jacobs, his children’s wear line. All his collections became popular across many boutiques worldwide and even licensed his name to some accessories and perfumes. He also continued to receive awards from CFDA, being the Menswear Designer of the Year (2002), Accessories Designer of the Year (1998, 1999, 2003, and 2005.)
In 2013, after 16 years of being with the company, he left Louis Vuitton to focus on his brand. Later that year, he debuted Marc Jacobs Beauty, his makeup line. In 2015, he closed down his popular Marc by Marc Jacobs line to concentrate on his main label
Apart from providing iconic pieces, Jacobs used his influence to raise awareness. In 2009, he launched a shirt design demanding the legalization of gay marriage. Meanwhile, his project “”Protect The Skin You’re In” aimed to raise awareness about melanoma. He also designed a tee for the Sato Project, a rescue and rehabilitation effort for abandoned and abused dogs in Puerto Rico.
Today, Marc Jabos continues to share his immense talent and a unique sense of design with the world. Years after his straight out-of-school debut and for being the “boy wonder” of the fashion realm, we can expect him to still turn heads and amaze us with his glamorous collections.