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Marc Jacobs's Longtime Business Partner Robert Duffy Has Stepped Down

Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2015. Photo: Getty Images
Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2015. Photo: Getty Images

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When the bomb dropped last week that Marc by Marc Jacobs will shut down, a lot of questions about the decision initially went unanswered. Over the weekend, WWD's Bridget Foley sat down with Marc Jacobs to clear up the uncertainty and get a better picture of where the brand is headed.

Cutting Marc by Marc Jacobs was a decision that stemmed from a huge corporate change: Robert Duffy, Marc Jacobs's longtime business partner, has decided to step down from his leading role at the company. He will remain deputy chairman of the board, but Marc Jacobs's direction now falls into the hands of Sebastian Suhl, who was appointed CEO last fall. The decision to discontinue Marc by Marc Jacobs was Suhl's first big executive move.

"We've gone through many different ways looking at what [Marc by Marc Jacobs] was initially and how it had gotten away from that, and I think again we're back to that same thing," Jacobs said. "The way to do it is that this is under one label."

As for Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, the design team that took over Marc by Marc Jacobs to much acclaim last year, their future at the company is uncertain. Katie Hillier has had a longstanding relationship with the Marc Jacobs brand and will probably stay on "in a significant role." Luella Bartley's prospects are less clear.

Moving forward, Suhl said that the now-unified brand will increase its focus on retail, though they will have to deal with the soon-to-be-vacant Marc by Marc Jacobs stores. "We have loads of opportunities to operate and open more stores, but I think the main focus is really getting the concept right, the product right under a unified store concept," Suhl said. "And, very importantly, professionalizing, reinforcing the retail team internally both at headquarters and in local markets around the world. That's something we're doing right now, we're putting together a really strong team."

The company currently does more than 50% of its business in international arenas, but Suhl pointed out that there was still plenty of opportunity for growth in America. Specifically, he said that there was a "glaring opportunity" for retail expansion in US malls. This is probably the best news American malls have heard all year.