In a few years, you may be able to own part of Marc Jacobs — even if you can't afford the clothes.
After 16 years on the job, Marc Jacobs confirmed Wednesday that he will leave Louis Vuitton to focus all of his energy on the Marc Jacobs brand leading up to an initial public offering.
The news came from Louis Vuitton Chief Executive Michael Burke Wednesday, following Jacobs' last Spring show with Louis Vuitton — a pitch black, show-girl themed spectacle that W Magazine's Edward Enninful said was "like a funeral." Of Jacobs' departure, Burke told The Wall Street Journal, "We're doing what's good for Marc and the future of his company," and "Marc's wish is to take it to the next level."
Focusing solely on his own brand will be a big change for Jacobs, who for the last two decades has often been called "the hardest working man in fashion." Since 1997, Jacobs has designed the collections of Louis Vuitton, the classic European brand that powers LVMH Moët Hennessey — the world's largest luxury conglomerate. At the same time, he has found time to design collections for his own brand, Marc Jacobs, and launch the lower-priced line, Marc by Marc Jacobs. Those name brands now have over 200 retail stores in 80 countries.
Jacobs and his longtime business partner Robert Duffy will have some work to do before an IPO. But don't hold your breath — it's reportedly scheduled to go down sometime in the next three years.
Expectations are already high, nonetheless. Women's Wear Daily says LVMH has committed its support already and envisions big things for the Jacobs brand:
LVMH officials believe the Marc Jacobs business could explode given sufficient investment and support, including the undivided attention of Jacobs and Duffy. Arnault said the group is committed to such support, particularly by developing new products and strengthening distribution by shoring up the brand’s own retail network. [WWD]
No matter the progress they make strengthening the business, Jacobs and Duffy will certainly have big shoes to fill in the world of luxury brand IPOs. Prada's IPO in 2011 on Hong Kong's stock market raised $2.14 billion, while Michael Kors' IPO that same year on the New York Stock Exchange raised $944 million. To give you a sense of what an IPO can do for a luxury brand: Michael Kors was valued at roughly $1.18 billion following its IPO in late 2011. It's now worth over $12 billion.
So what could a shot-to-the-arm of funding do for the hardest working man in fashion? We'll have to wait — maybe three years — to find out.