Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy

NEW YORK — As part of its plan to bolster business in the ever-influential Japanese market, Marc Jacobs International LLC has renewed its partnership with Mitsubishi International and Renown Look Inc. through 2009. <BR><BR>Marc Jacobs and Robert...

NEW YORK — As part of its plan to bolster business in the ever-influential Japanese market, Marc Jacobs International LLC has renewed its partnership with Mitsubishi International and Renown Look Inc. through 2009.

Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy have long been committed to Mitsubishi, which was the first licensed partner to sign a deal with the Marc Jacobs brand, in 1994. The business has grown to 26 retail locations, including two freestanding stores in Aoyama and Osaka.

During a phone interview Monday, Duffy, Jacobs’ president, said, “After we got fired from Perry Ellis, they kept us in business. I had my tin cup out to those guys many times. We would not be in business today without them.”

Duffy noted that Mitsubishi and Renown Look were the sole supporters early on and often advanced money against future royalties. “From manufacturing to financial support, they have been a great partner for more than 10 years,” he said.

Marc Jacobs executives declined to comment on international annual volume, but industry sources said retail sales are expected to climb to $400 million this year from $250 million a year ago. Marc Jacob products are distributed in more than 10 countries, including South Korea, China and several in Europe.

“We’re growing so quickly right now. Our Japanese business is the most established, so it’s a matter of tinkering with it,” Duffy said. “We’re willing to do whatever they want to do.”

That could mean a variety of things, including developing Jacobs’ home collection in Japan.

“Japan is crucial to every company. There are certain categories that we’ve got to work on,” Duffy said. “One area we really want to work on is accessories, especially handbags.”

In other news, Jacobs has designed a T-shirt for tonight’s North American film premiere of “Peace One Day” at the Ziegfeld Theater.

— Rosemary Feitelberg

This story first appeared in the September 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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