The perpetually busy Kim Kardashian has a new gig: being the face of Marc Jacobs' Fall 2023 campaign. Styled by i-D editor-in-chief Alastair McKimm and photographed by London-based photographer Tyrone Lebon, the Skims founder appears in black-and-white attire from the brand, decked out in platform boots and polka dot gloves.
Only a decade ago, Kardashian was still struggling to be taken seriously by the fashion industry. Now, brands are courting the reality star as a valuable ally to elevate their image. Prior to the backlash against Balenciaga for its inappropriate use of children in its Spring 2023 campaign, Kardashian was the label's most visible muse, appearing in campaigns and wearing creative director Demna's designs to the Met Gala.
In 2022, she single-handedly changed the conversation around Dolce & Gabbana with a curated archival collection that reminded consumers of the brand’s Italian roots rather than its disastrous China scandal in 2018.
Now, Marc Jacobs is getting the Kim K treatment. But is her image enough to revitalize a brand that has fallen out of favor?
The Jing Take
Founded in 1986, Marc Jacobs’ namesake label became one of the leading brands of the ’90s and 2000s. The designer helmed Louis Vuitton’s debut into ready-to-wear in 1997 — when LVMH also took a majority stake in the Marc Jacobs brand — and was named the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2016.
Throughout the 2010s, however, the brand started showing signs of decline. In 2018, retail revenues reportedly fell to $300 million, half the amount it commanded at its peak. Jacobs also shuttered his lower-priced diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs in 2015 and his namesake beauty brand by 2020.
But after a corporate restructuring in 2022, the Marc Jacobs brand is fighting its way back into the spotlight, both in New York and abroad. This June, Jacobs staged a rapid-fire Fall 2023 show at New York Public Library, using a slot outside the traditional fashion week calendar to snag audience attention.
Despite facing threats of a boycott in China when he released a Free Tibet line in 2012, Jacobs is using the country to boost his name as well. The brand staged a takeover of Beijing’s luxury shopping mall Taikoo Li Sanlitun in April of this year, plastering the mall in his monogram and inviting local stars like influencer Sunnie Sun to attend.
But none of those activities have the power of a single Kardashian. As she often does, Kardashian acted as a lighting rod for online commenters following the reveal of the latest Marc Jacobs campaign. On Weibo, user @Maltreated wrote, “Fendi, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs — Kim has incredible fashion resources after her divorce!” On the brand’s Instagram posts about the campaign, many commenters called the choice “disappointing.”
Kardashian isn’t the only familiar face to appear in fall campaigns. This week, downtown it girl Chloë Sevigny was announced as the face of Proenza Schouler, another New York brand that has fallen from its 2010s heyday. And 2000s top model Daria Werbowy, already the face of Gucci’s high jewelry campaign under new creative director Sabato de Sarno, will reportedly front Phoebe Philo’s highly-anticipated namesake brand debuting this fall.
No matter how negative some comments may be, they still boost both the Jacobs and Kardashian brands. In the digital age, engagement is engagement. And Kardashian brings that in droves.
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.