Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981, he entered Parson’s School of Design.
As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the school’s highest honors. He was awarded the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award, the Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award and the Design Student of the Year Award all in 1984. While still at Parson’s, Jacobs also designed and sold his first collection of hand-knit sweaters. The collection was designed for Ruben Thomas, Inc. under the “sketchbook” label. 1984 also brought the beginning of a partnership with Robert Duffy, called Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc., which is still intact today.
In 1986, backed by Kashiyama USA, Inc., Jacobs designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label. The following year, Jacobs received the distinct honor of being the youngest designer ever to be awarded the fashion industry’s highest tribute: The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent.
In 1989, Jacobs and Duffy joined Perry Ellis. Duffy was named President and Jacobs was named Vice President of Women’s Design. While at Perry Ellis, Jacobs oversaw the design of various women’s licensees as well as creating the designer collection. In 1992, the CFDA once again bestowed Jacobs with a distinct honor: the Women’s Designer of the Year Award.
In the fall of 1993, Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. launched their own licensing and design company: Marc Jacobs International Company, L.P. In 1994, the company signed its first licensing agreement with Renown Look and Mitsubishi for distribution of the Marc Jacobs Designer Collection in Japan. Soon after, Iris S.R.L. signed on as the licensee for the men’s and women’s shoe collections. The factory, located in Venice Italy, continues to produce all Marc Jacobs Shoes.
1997 proved to be a big year for the company. In January, Jacobs and Duffy joined Louis Vuitton, Jacobs as Artistic Director and Duffy as Studio Director. In this position, Jacobs works on many of the French luxury house’s lines including men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, shoes, small leather goods and scarves. Later that year, the first Marc Jacobs store opened at 163 Mercer Street in New York’s Soho district and Jacobs was recognized by the CFDA a third time, winning Women’s Designer of the Year. At the VH1 Fashion Awards in the fall of 1998, Jacobs received the Women’s Designer of the Year Award and in 1999 he was named Accessory Designer of the Year by the CFDA.
Marc Jacobs International launched its first handbag collection in the spring of 2000. The line is available at all Marc Jacobs stores as well as fine department stores and specialty boutiques. Later that year, Juergen Teller shot the company’s first ad campaign. A second Marc Jacobs store was opened on San Francisco’s historic Maiden Lane in August 2000. The store features the women’s and men’s collections as well as shoes and handbags. In September, the first freestanding men’s store opened its doors at 403 Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village.
December 2000 brought the signing of a third licensee. This time the company paired with Isa Seta, an Italian company based outside Milan, to produce men’s and women’s scarves. Jacobs introduced the secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, for spring 2001. The clothing and accessories in this line are sold at fine department stores and specialty stores nationwide.
In September 2001, the company launched its first perfume in conjunction with Parfums Givenchy under the name Marc Jacobs.