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TOKYO — Fresh off a honeymoon in Southeast Asia with his partner, Alex Cespedes, Marc Jacobs International president Robert Duffy said he’s hard at work on a number of projects for the house, including snagging digs in uptown New York.
This story first appeared in the January 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Duffy finally confirmed the widespread speculation that the brand is about to clinch a store location in the form of the Chase Manhattan Bank on Madison Avenue. The lawyers are busy working out the trivial details, like who is responsible for cleaning out the asbestos, he explained.
“There’s only been one tenant in that space for 93 years,” he said, adding that he’s been eyeing the building for four years. “Once I find a space, I never give up on the space.”
Duffy and Jacobs have a very different item of business to take care of in the near future, though — the duo is in the process of negotiating the renewal of their contracts in their respective roles at Louis Vuitton. Duffy said he doesn’t foresee any problems on that front.
“It’s just starting but, I mean, we both want to stay. I don’t think that’s any secret,” he said. “When two people want to renew their vows they do it usually.”
Duffy just put in an appearance at the brand’s new flagship here to meet Japanese fans and autograph copies of photographer Brian Bowen Smith’s tome, “The Men and Women of Marc Jacobs.” The house flew in androgynous model Andrej Pejic from Australia to attend a Wednesday-night cocktail party, which drew a host of Japanese celebrities, including former Miss Universe Japan Emiri Miyasaka.
The executive, tanned and clad in a black-and-white, perfectly knotted scarf, said the company has plenty of other plans and is experiencing “huge, huge” growth. He spoke with much enthusiasm about the success of the brand’s new bookstores in New York and Los Angeles and said he wants to open a third in Washington.
Duffy said the Bookmarc concept is drumming up significant interest with the brand’s business partners. But he conceded that it wasn’t always that way. Initially, some people had a difficult time understanding why he wanted to move into a paper-based industry at a time when readers are turning to iPads and Kindles, he explained.
“People didn’t really understand what the hell I was doing,” said the executive, who said his real ambitions are to move into publishing. “Fashion isn’t just about clothes and handbags.”
Duffy also revealed he’s been talking to the brand’s Hong Kong partner, ImagineX, about opening a combination bookstore-cafe on the Shanghai Bund. He said he’s wanted to have a storefront in the city for years.
“I told them exactly where I want it to be,” he said.