Robert Duffy didn’t just hire Marc Jacobs—he cofounded Marc Jacobs International with him. He even tattooed the year of the founding, 1984, on his wrist. Duffy recently stopped by the new Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique in The Forum Shops at Caesars to give a peek behind the brand.
interview by Christie Moeller
It has been said that the addition of the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection makes Marc Jacobs the biggest American mega-brand to emerge in a long time. I never think of it as that big, because we still do what we did from the beginning. People come in and take pictures of me at an opening and I’m stocking shelves. Even with a hundred stores now, I still want to go and be there and design special merchandise for each location because each one has a different customer. I want to be involved. It’s the DNA of the company.
Many famous fashion partnerships have dissolved over time as the brand got bigger. What is the secret to your success? Trust. [Marc] doesn’t want to do this without me and I don’t want to do this without him. Over the years, people have tried to separate us but we always stuck together.
With so much on your plate already (Louis Vuitton and the Marc Jacobs collection), why start Marc by Marc Jacobs? I was visiting retail stores and the coolest girls would come in and say they love our pieces but couldn’t afford them. I said to Marc: We have to do a secondary line that is more accessible to young customers.
You and Marc surround yourselves with young people. Is that to stay in touch with trends? Absolutely. As a brand, we were one of the first to grab on to social media. A few seasons ago, a guy tweeted to me that he bought a pair of sunglasses and the lens popped out four days later. I tweeted back and said I bought the same pair and the same thing happened as I walked out of our store. Certain people within our company asked why I would tweet that. I said, ‘It’s the truth. I would be pissed.’ I called all the stores and had the glasses pulled. People appreciate honesty, and we fixed the problem.
What trends will we see from Marc by Marc Jacobs this fall? It’s a bit more grown-up. Fewer ruffles and less girly, cleaner lines. The women’s line has a menswear influence.
What is the must-have item for fall? A colorful, cheerful leather bag.