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After months of speculation, American fashion designer Marc Jacobs has announced that he is leaving Louis Vuitton.
After 16 years as the creative director for the the French fashion house best known for its LV monogrammed bags, Jacobs is turning his attention to preparing the Marc Jacobs brand for an eventual public offering.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW.
The American fashion designer Marc Jacobs has announced that he is leaving Louis Vuitton. After 16 years as the creative director for the French fashion house, Jacobs is turning his attention to his own brand, Marc Jacobs, for an eventual public offering. Joining us is Jim Fallon, editor of Women's Wear Daily. Jim, welcome to the show.
JIM FALLON: Hello.
HOBSON: Well, tell us first about Marc Jacobs. We just recently had a conversation with the fashion editor Andre Leon Talley, who called him one of the most important American designers in 2013. What does he do so well?
FALLON: I think he just shifts the market. I mean it's in terms of coloration or silhouette, his main collection is one of those that fashion people look to as trendsetting every season, season after season. For the normal consumer, it probably might not be within their pocket range. But eventually his influence will be felt even on regular clothes that, you know, the average woman might buy.
HOBSON: Well, what did he bring to Louis Vuitton?
FALLON: He brought - he basically took what was a fusty leather goods French brand well-known for quality and turned it into one of the hottest luxury brands out there, through artistic collaborations, introducing ready-to-wear, which they'd never really done before, and just raising the temperature around the Vuitton brand to where he made it a fashionable item rather than just a luxury good.
HOBSON: And as he shifts focus to his own brand, Marc Jacobs, I've seen that he is going to have to really focus on making it into an international brand and boosting its global presence. Is that his main task ahead now?
FALLON: I think he has several tasks - certainly making it a more global brand. He's really underpenetrated in - even Europe, let alone places like China and Brazil, but also expanding the types of products he sells under the Marc Jacobs label. I mean he does handbags already. He does shoes. But he doesn't really do watches. He doesn't do that many sunglasses. And really expanding the accessories part of his business that really is what drives companies like that today.
HOBSON: And what does his departure mean for Louis Vuitton? This is a global, lucrative, luxury brand generating more than $9 billion a year. But critics have said that it has lost some of its prestige.
FALLON: It's lost some of its prestige only in the sense of - again, what's driving the entire market is really the Far East. So the Chinese consumer is looking less and less at those kinds of monogrammed logo types of products. I think what Marc Jacobs' successor faces, obviously, is bringing back some of the buzz that it may have lost over the last few seasons, but also inheriting the mantle of Marc and being able to carry on the growth that the Vuitton brand is seeing - continues to see.
It's not like the growth is slowing down - is declining - the growth is declining, it's just not, you know, it's not the double digits that it had been in the last few years.
HOBSON: Jim Fallon, editor of Women's Wear Daily. Jim, thanks for joining us.
FALLON: Thank you very much. Have a good day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.