Is Marc Jacobs to exit his brand?

All is not well at Marc Jacobs. The New York-based company has an incoming chief executive, Eric Marechalle, who faces the tough task of re-structuring a brand, which, according to owner Bernard Arnault, gives him more reason for worry than president Trump.

With headlines today across the fashion networks stating Jacobs may relinquish his day-to-day design responsibilities (BOF), there are several possible scenarios that could come into effect for the brand's turnaround.

Jacobs, who famously exited Louis Vuitton as its creative head in October 2013, has had nearly four years to focus on his namesake label. There was a promise of something great when British designers Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier were recruited to take the flailing Marc by Marc Jacobs label by the reigns, only to see them exit little more than a year later when the line was folded to be incorporated with the mainline.

Rumours circulating the fashion stratosphere suggest Jacobs may leave the business entirely or otherwise put in place a second in command who can lead the design teams in Jacobs absence and share the responsibilities of creatively managing the business.

According to the Business of Fashion, Jacobs was unhappy with Sebastian Suhl, the chief executive who announced his departure in May this year. His reorganization of the business changed the company and brand to such an extent it was far from the Marc Jacobs that launched in New York all those decades ago.

Fragrance sales have kept the company going

The company has been financially reliant on its fragrance business, a partnership with Coty, despite Jacobs being a name that resonates in the fashion industry and with global customers.

Back in 2014 there was still talk of a potential IPO for the brand, which was a billion dollar business at retail. Turning it into a fast-moving contemporary brand like Michael Kors seemed futile and subsequently didn’t work.

Perhaps the biggest blow to Jacobs was losing his business partner, Robert Duffy in 2014, who decided to take a step back from daily operations. Duffy had been by Jacobs’ side since the late eighties, leaving Jacobs in some respect to fend for himself.

As the fashion world patiently watched to see if Jacobs had the energy and desire to re-store the creativity to his company and return it to its glory days of the early noughties, the brand felt far from the Marc Jacobs of yore, with little excitement to hold onto.

It didn’t help when last year Coty revealed Jacobs’ fragrance business was also seeing a decline, though still the cash cow of the business. And then came the store closures of several self-operated retail boutiques.

According to Business of Fashion, while Jacobs is still a loss-making business, “the trajectory is pretty clear and we are not particularly worried” LVMH chief financial officer stated on an earnings call on Wednesday.

Still, where there is smoke there may be fire. And we are all hoping the flames can be contained.

Photo credit: Marc Jacobs Facebook