Group 4

Fast fashion’s gone to Heaven

Why Heaven by Marc Jacobs is losing its edge to e-comm copycats


Thumbnail and banner: Heaven by Marc Jacobs, Basic Pleasure Mode

When Marc Jacobs launched Heaven in 2020, it was an instant (and Insta) success. The timing was right — the Y2K trend, which informs the brand’s design and ethos, was on the cusp of peaking, and enough time had passed since the failure of Marc by Marc Jacobs, the first low-entry attempt by the designer, in 2015. Plus, subculture, which has proven to be Heaven’s main source of inspiration (or exploitation, depending on who you ask) was hot. Across TikTok, underground fashion from punk and goth to J-fashion was finding its way into the everyday outfits, and iconic artifacts like cult Japanese street style mag FRUiTs (whom Heaven tapped to shoot its first campaign) were being revisited. It seemed Heaven got it all right — from the clothes, which were a refreshingly edgy departure from the more baby pink, Bimbo Summit side of Y2K fashion, to the casting, which featured Gen Z faves from well-known nepo names like Bella Hadid and Iris Law, to alt music icons like Swedish rapper and producer Bladee.

Fast forward three years and Heaven is no longer the golden child of the historically dicy space between subculture and commercial fashion. Sure, it’s still creating campaigns that get clicks — from the now infamous clout couch to tapping Gen Z breakouts like Ice Spice and Ethel Cain alongside past gen, pre-influencer influencers like Pamela Anderson and Michèle Lamy. And Heaven has only further entrenched itself in subcultural associations — working with cult numetal band Deftones to create a line of merch and selling ephemera that could be pulled directly from the wishlist of a Tumblr teenager in the 2010s, from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack (on CD) to vintage copies of i-D. But online, opinions on the brand are changing — across TikTok and Twitter, Heaven is being criticised for commodifying subculture and prioritising clouty collabs and campaigns above quality.

What’s more is that it seems every random fast fashion brand has suddenly gone Heaven-core — transitioning from the sleek or strappy silhouette that defined the past decade of low-cost, trend-driven looks, to a more subdued colour palette and a relaxed  ‘90s-inspired silhouette that’s clearly been pulled directly from the Heaven playbook. Fast fashion retailer MISSGUIDED has quite literally done a full rebrand in the Heaven style — launching a new, edgier logo alongside a new grunged-out look that eschews the brand’s previous bright and microtrend-y mainstays. It could be said that low-cost, fast-paced duplication is built into Heaven’s brand DNA. Heaven’s most lusted after items are typically basics with a cool graphic — whether that’s stills from Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides printed onto a maxi skirt, or the cover of Deftones’ most famous album printed onto a mesh jersey. For the most part, there’s no high-level, difficult-to-replicate technique involved — perfect for copy-paste-produce by fast fashion brands who have picked up on the fact that reference to subculture, no matter how shoddily constructed, is what’s driving sales these days.

So, what effect will the hoards of Heaven dupes have on the OG itself? Already we’ve seen a pushback to the kind of always-on, always-visible individuality Heaven encourages. It’s likely that the Heaven look becoming more accessible, and therefore worn and cycled through by more people, through its integration into fast fashion will accelerate this frustration. Couple with the existing critique of Heaven as subculture-vulture and clout-farming campaign-commander and you’ve got a recipe for waning relevance. But Heaven can go another direction by stepping away from shifting through subcultures and starting to self-reference Marc Jacobs’ own design history, especially since fashion has proven its preference for tongue-and-cheek through the playful sloganeering of brands like OGBFF. Think less Heaven by Marc Jacobs and more Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs in collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs.

For more content like this, explore the rest of the Digiverse, or connect with us on TikTok or Instagram. If you’re a brand or business and want to inspire your audience in innovative ways, reach out to our strategic & creative lab