Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton unveiled today during Paris Fashion Week,an all black burlesque collection, with many ironic references. This is also the last collection he signs for Louis Vuitton, the company having formally confirmed that his contract is expiring this month and will not be renewed. Jacobs joined Vuitton as creative director in 1997 and in his first decade at the house, Louis Vuitton’s profits quadrupled. He also developed a most docile attitude in his collaboration with owner Bernard Arnaud.
Jacobs’ success is mostly due to the collaborations with contemporary artists, including Stephen Sprouse (2001), Takashi Murakami (2005), Richard Prince (2007) and Yayoi Kusama (2012), which played with Louis Vuitton’s key brand signifiers: the “LV” logo and famous monogram. The Murakami collaboration alone generated $300 million in sales.
Yet, in recent years, as affluent consumers in fast growing emerging markets like China matured much faster than expected and began to tire of Louis Vuitton’s now much-copied signifiers, which eroded the brand’s high luxury positioning. In response to this growing “logo fatigue,” in recent seasons Louis Vuitton has shifted away from its more obvious brand recognizable symbols and refocused its product and communications strategies on craftsmanship and other more discrete branding devices.
In 2012, Louis Vuitton’s sales growth slowed to single digits on the back of sluggish demand in Asia and Europe.
Jacobs and his longtime business partner Robert Duffy are said to be preparing for the IPO of the Marc Jacobs label, in which LVMH has 96 percent stake. Market sources suggested the public offering would take place within the next three years.
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