Marc Jacobs on Fashion and Politics

Marc Jacobs on Fashion's Place in Politics


After drawing the ire of Chinese consumers with a line of products bearing the slogan "Free Tibet," Marc Jacobs says designers should be cautious when mixing their products with political messages.

"I guess politics and fashion, you've always got to be a bit careful because somebody's going to get offended or somebody's going to feel it isn't right," Jacobs said at a recent restaging of his Fall 2012 show for Louis Vuitton in Shanghai. "I don't want to sound stupid or ignorant or anything, but I spend my time in the studio choosing fabric and colors and trying to figure out what we're going to make . . . If you want to avoid controversy, you just don't do [political] things like that."

A series of Marc by Marc Jacobs bags and t-shirts in support of the Tibetan Freedom Coalition prompted users of Facebook and Weibo — China's answer to Twitter — to boycott Jacobs's products. "John Galliano was fired by Dior because of his anti-semitic comments," said one Facebook group that backed the boycott. "We Chinese should also unite to let MJ to apologize and withdraw all the bags and T-shirts with 'Free Tibet' prints." Jacobs said the offending products are no longer in production.

In the past, Jacobs's products haven't shied away from political statements. He's made t-shirts and other items showing support for gay marriage and for President Obama's reelection campaign. In 2006, the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in San Francisco put up a window display that read "Worst President Ever!" referring to then-commander-in-chief George W. Bush.

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