Heaven by Marc Jacobs x Dr. Martens Ava Nirui Interview
Marc Jacobs has always been synonymous with the ’90s grunge scene, and with a handful of collaborations between the label and Dr. Martens, it was only a matter of time before his new branch, Heaven by Marc Jacobs, was born. ‘get a shoe with the shoe giant.
Since 2019, Ava nirui held the title of Director of Special Projects at Marc Jacobs, and Heaven has been described as his original idea. The New York-based designer took her big leap more than five years ago, when her bootleg-inspired designs and fun Instagram posts began to go viral. The rest is history.
Since the launch of Heaven in 2020, the brand has resellers around the world and has just opened its first store in Fairfax. The retail space has other small labels as well, including Stray Rats, Climax Books, Online Ceramics, Mowalola, Cactus Plant Flea Market, etc., and is only growing in popularity.
The Dr. Marterns collaboration resuscitates the spirit of the 90s of Marc Jacobs, adopting the new Audrick silhouette, giving it a makeover in crocodile relief in the high and low silhouettes. The shoe features a 1.9 “sole and the collaboration is the first to use the all-new design.
Of course, we spoke to the creative force behind it all, Ava Nirui, about Heaven as well as the long-standing relationship between Marc Jacobs and Dr. Martens. If you are looking to get your hands on a pair of shoes, these are available on the Dr Martens website.
First of all, what does Dr. Martens mean to you?
Dr. Martens was the first “brand name” shoe I have ever owned. I think the style was actually 1460 – when I was seven or eight my brother threw a party and a friend of his left a pair of DM shoes with us and never came back to pick them up. Lucky for me, they were a size 37, so these discontinued shoes ended up being my school shoes for the next five years. I feel very connected to the brand and what it stands for, and for this project, with so many cultural parallels between Marc Jacobs and Dr. Martens, we’ve had a lot to work on.
Both brands are steeped in heritage and quality, and they celebrate the innate grunge spirit of New York DIY – that’s very special to me.
Heaven is inspired by the subcultures of young people. What are some of your favorites? Are there any new subcultures you’ve seen emerging in 2021?
Grunge culture is clearly rooted in the brand’s DNA, and it’s a culture that’s personal to me. One of my favorite moments in MJ history was Sonic Youth’s 1992 video for “Sugar Kane” which featured Marc and his collection. It has been worn by icons like Chloe Sevigny, Courtney Love and Christy Turlington.
We take inspiration not only from the archives but also from the very natural and authentic attitude of Marc Jacobs – it’s a certain nonchalance and effortless cool that feels very punk. Today, that same attitude is channeled by the next generation who are both discovering the culture that came before them. I can sense a rebellion across the internet and see art, fashion and DIY culture taking over.
Young people don’t need brands or celebrities to tell them what’s cool – they have access to so much information and, as a result, are a much sought-after generation. Naturally, youth subcultures are constantly changing and things from the past resurface to be new again. I enjoyed seeing many of the people and ideas that Marc championed over time regain popularity. That’s really what Heaven is all about: to show people the incredibly inspiring and multifaceted history and legacy of Marc Jacobs, and then celebrate it in a way that almost feels like hacker fan art.
What has been your experience since opening Heaven earlier this year? What was the most exciting part?
The store has been an incredible learning and growth experience. I feel so inspired by our clients, their interests and their curiosities. It is very pleasant to observe them in discovery mode – they are totally crazy about all the books and memories.
I am also very grateful to other brands who trust us enough to sell their collections in our store. They are mostly small brands or artists which is a specialty practice and this enriches the whole experience.
The store reminds me of what it was like to visit a Marc Jacobs store in the early 2000s. The Bleeker Street store was also a community space, where Marc’s friends and friends of the staff stopped to socialize. There is also a series of unreal images taken in the early 2000s of people like Selma Blair and Kate Moss hanging out in the back room of the Mercer Street store.
When you design a space with friendship, exploration, and education in mind, you end up with more than a shopping destination. It was particularly interesting to see former Marc by Marc Jacobs customers visiting the store. I think they too feel very nostalgic when they experiment with the line. Often they bring their children. It’s a totally complete moment and there is something for everyone, whatever your age.