Marc Jacobs’ fashion and beauty renaissance: Can the American brand make a global comeback?

What Happened: It didn’t take long. Shortly after announcing Kim Kardashian as the new face of the brand after years of decline, Marc Jacobs is taking another step to reclaim its former market dominance. The once-lauded New York fashion brand has announced a return to the beauty sector with the relaunch of Marc Jacobs Beauty.

First introduced in 2013 by LVMH-owned beauty incubator Kendo before quietly disappearing off the shelves in 2021, Marc Jacobs Beauty will be revived as part of a new licensing deal with French-American cosmetics giant Coty, which already produces the brand’s successful fragrances like Daisy.     

The Highliner Gel Eye Crayon was one of Marc Jacobs Beauty’s most popular products. Photo: Marc Jacobs Beauty

Marc Jacobs isn’t the only fashion brand diversifying its offerings. Prada also returned to the beauty sphere this year with the revival of its makeup and skincare line, which debuted in 2000. Meanwhile, Dior has doubled down on its wellness cruise from earlier this year with the roll out of a full-fledged spa

The Jing Take: While clothes and accessories helped Marc Jacobs establish itself as one of New York’s top designer brands in the 2000s, today’s fashion players need to sell more than just apparel to stay relevant. They need to offer a lifestyle — and beauty and wellness are especially useful sectors to communicate a well-rounded brand.  

But in an increasingly crowded beauty market, designer labels need to establish a clear point of view to differentiate their products from the numerous other high-end offerings. Marc Jacobs and Prada’s return to beauty follows in the footsteps of Gucci, which returned to makeup in 2019 with Coty as well. 

Under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, the new Gucci line launched with just lipsticks in a colorful campaign that matched Michele’s quirky, gender-neutral looks on the runway. 

Alessandro Michele created a quirky campaign for Gucci Beauty’s lipstick launch in 2019 . Photo: Gucci

While most designer beauty brands are licensed out rather than produced in-house — Prada’s line is made by L’Oréal, which also owns YSL and Valentino’s beauty brands — fashion brands may be seeking more control over their (potentially highly lucrative) beauty products. Kering, parent company to Gucci and Saint Laurent, launched its own beauty division this year, while Off-White created its own beauty department in order to expand into makeup and fragrance last year.   

With their relatively affordable price points, makeup and fragrance can allow luxury brands to connect with a wider audience beyond their closets. But it’s not the only way brands are growing their lifestyle footprint. Valentino translated its signature pink color into dessert through a partnership with Italian pastry shop Cova this year. And numerous brands like Martine Rose and Thom Browne have put their fashion stamp on sports in recent years. 

But back to Marc Jacobs. The brand was certainly ahead of the curve with the creation of a beauty brand well before every celebrity, influencer and fashion brand got on board. It has also stayed active in China — taking over Beijing’s Taikoo Li shopping mall with a skateboard pop-up in April — and will likely eye Chinese consumers again once the beauty line relaunches.

With newfound energy behind the brand and a consumer base seeking colorful, innovative cosmetics, maybe now is the perfect for Marc Jacobs Beauty to take over makeup counters.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


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