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Little Marc Jacobs hasn’t grown up, but it’s grown out — 110 square feet, to be precise.
This story first appeared in the September 7, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It gave us a bathroom and a dressing room. It wasn’t very practical before,” Marc Jacobs International president Robert Duffy says, sitting on a banquette in the new space, his one-year-old daughter, Victoria, tugging at his pant leg. “It took me having a kid to realize all the functional aspects that were needed.”
While the additional tract is the most conspicuous change to the once-tiny West Village nook, Little Marc Jacobs has a whole new retail concept. Executed by architecture firm Jaklitsch/Gardner, the space is clean yet imaginative with white lacquered millwork, floating shelves housing a trove of teddy bears and geometric accents in poppy hues. At the store’s center dangles a stunning, custom handblown citron-and-white glass chandelier, created in collaboration with Axon Lighting.
Duffy, who developed the look with Jaklitsch/Gardner, says the store’s new palette serves a functional purpose. “It took me a long time to come up with a concept just because there are all these studies on how children respond to certain colors, and I wanted to make sure we took that all into account,” he says of the three-month renovation process (during which Little MJ shacked up with Marc by Marc across the street). “I couldn’t figure out why so many kids’ stores were all white, and I found out kids love it.”
Case in point: little Victoria, who refused to put on anything but the white frock she’s sporting on this day. “She’s like, ‘No, I’m wearing this one.’ Unfortunately, she picked a prototype, so it’s all ripped up inside,” Duffy says, flipping up its skirt to show the unfinished underpinnings. “She knows what she wants.”
When it comes to her playthings, the tot is opinionated as well: Anything with wheels is highly favored. “She doesn’t like dolls. She likes this kind of stuff,” Duffy says, watching Victoria push a wooden-wheeled duck across the floor. “She like trucks.”
Along with apparel and toys of the rolling sort, Little Marc Jacobs carries merch ranging from rocking horses to picture books to DVDs. “There’s the grandparents or godparents who will spend any amount of money. They usually go for the stuffed animal. There’s the family friend, that’s usually clothes. And then there’s the parents, and they go purely practical,” Duffy says, motioning to the shelf housing the diaper bags. “You literally have three different kinds of customers.”
He admits there’s a wish-fulfillment aspect to the redesign. “When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a children’s store. Your parents buy you your stuff. You didn’t actually go with them, but that’s all changed,” Duffy says. He’s now holding Victoria, who’s fiddling with a robot action figure Duffy tells me was a gift from Jacobs. “I would have loved a place like this, so I just get really into it.”