A Love Letter To Lucky: 12 Ex-Editors Reminisce About The Shuttered Magazine

It’s been a rough, drawn-out demise for Lucky, the magazine that completely pioneered the conceit of an entire monthly read devoted to shopping when it launched in 2000. It brought a particular kind of magic to its readers every month (or every day online), and that's what its alums are quick to remember when given the chance to look back — even after moving on from the cherished publication. Alas, Lucky's last print issue came out in May, and it’s been living online as LuckyShops.com since then. That quietly came to an end on Friday; the site stopped publishing content, and remaining staffers packed up and left.

A whirlwind of changes have rocked the beloved glossy since last August, when the magazine’s parent company, Conde Nast entered a joint venture with now-defunct e-comm company Beachmint to form The Lucky Group, and the title’s staff moved out of Conde’s digs in November. A round of layoffs occurred in February; editor-in-chief turned chief creative officer Eva Chen departed in April, and one month later, the magazine shifted from monthly to a quarterly publishing schedule. In June, Lucky ceased publishing its print edition entirely, and subsequently endured an (even bigger) round of layoffs. (We’ve reached out to The Lucky Group’s CEO, Josh Berman, as well as PR reps for comment.)

To put it lightly, it’s been a tumultuous time for the magazine and its staffers, and there’s been enough exhaustive rehashing of what’s gone down. We’d rather focus on its legacy as an early advocate of street style’s importance and a veritable bible of styling hacks. It was a fashion magazine focused on developing and celebrating personal style instead of tossing out rigid sartorial mandates, and that was so novel. It was empowering, it spoke to us like peers, and in so doing it felt very ahead of its time. (On a superficial note, we were all about those color-coded ‘Love This’ stickers…)

We could keep waxing poetic about what made Lucky so special. But in the words of a dozen people who truly knew the magazine best — the talented folks that spent time on the its masthead, including the three editors-in-chief from its 15-year lifespan, and lots of top-level editors — this is why the magazine mattered so much.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Kim France, launch editor-in-chief (2000-2010)
"Fashion magazines always made me feel bad about myself after I was done reading them. Our goal was to create a fashion magazine that made people felt good about themselves, made them feel included, and that style was for everyone. The fact that we succeeded at that is probably what I'm proudest of."
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Eva Chen, editor-in-chief, chief content officer (2013-2015)
"Lucky was #squadgoals before #squadgoals existed. From the day it launched, I wanted to be part of the Lucky squad. Lucky girls always had a certain air about them. Yes, they were utterly unstudied in the coolness and always in some brand you hadn’t heard of yet — but needed to own, like, right now. Most importantly, they were approachable. Nice. Normal. (Normal, for the record, is the highest compliment I give a person. To have a life outside of your career, to be above the churn of the industry… That is normal and that is rad.)

"You felt like you were friends with the editors, that you had a direct connection to their closets or beauty routines. My time at Lucky is an endless greatest hits album that would rival Now That’s What I Call Music 1999 (the best one. Trust me): Insta-famous animals roaming the hallways. Spirited debates about the merits of crop tops and culottes. Late night karaoke renditions of ‘We Can’t Stop.’ Any magazine can create content. Not that many can create culture. That was Lucky’s magic. I am immensely grateful that I had an opportunity, even briefly, to be part of the weird, wonderful, fun, and, yes, fashionable Lucky family. #LuckyGirlForLife”
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director, editor-at-large (2000-2015)
“I met so many brilliant, funny people at Lucky. I worked there from the beginning to the end. In the beginning, the magazine, beauty, and fashion industries thought we were ridiculous — they changed their minds quickly when readers went crazy for it. It was a rush, how quickly people switched their thinking on us."It was all about the voice — because there was so little writing, the writing was really important. The layouts and the copy were always utterly in service of the reader, about being unfashiony and useful and un-put-downable. How do you wear that skirt and where do you get it? Everyone does it now, but at the time it was a total shift in perspective. "In many ways, we were the blog before the actual blogs: The personal tone that's the opposite of slick magazinespeak, the immediacy, the street style shots of the cool, real girls. If we'd just hoisted the entire thing onto the internet as soon as we could, maybe we'd still have something.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Leigh Belz Ray, executive editor, editorial director (2013-2015)
"At the heart of Lucky was a group of extremely driven, extremely creative individuals all very much on the ascent. Everyone on the team brought something different to the table, and the result was an office full of smart, weird, wonderful people. That spirit was present when there were 140 people and also when there were eight, a testament to the fact that everyone believed in the brand and in the talent of each other."
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Brandon Holley, editor-in-chief (2010-2013)
"What Lucky did from the very start was to make personal style something women could understand. I tip my hat to Kim France and the founding team; they created this resource where women could understand the trends and work them into their wardrobe — something fashion magazines were not doing at the time. And it celebrated real women with style, not just socialites, celebrities, and models. It was a watershed moment in fashion that was really important and empowering.

"I remembered when I first realized the genius of Lucky. I was reading a caption that was describing a kitten heel with a bow (this was a 2003 issue) and the caption read: 'Let the bow on these cute heels peek out from your wide-leg pants.' Aha! Most magazines write captions about the item, but Lucky empowered its readers by folding a styling tip into everything it showed. By the time you finished reading an issue you knew how to tie a bow blouse, front-tuck your button-down into your boyfriends, and layer necklaces. The voice was super friendly and helpful, which made it feel like your best-dressed, best friend."
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Photo: Donato Sardella/Getty Images.
Andrea Linett, creative director (2000-2010)
Lucky gave me great freedom to just be creative and have fun. And it still makes me happy to see echoes of our stories everywhere — from e-commerce sites to magazines.”
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Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images.
Meredith Rollins, executive editor (2003-2010)
"What was so great about Lucky — the secret sauce — was that we were thinking about the reader all the time. You'd be surprised at how rarely that happens in magazines, generally speaking. We never covered a trend or a clothing line just because it was new or buzzy. It had to be something that could work into the reader's actual life.

"Kim [France] would look at a piece that only a fashion insider would love — one of those items that's really plain and maybe even a little ugly — and she'd know our readers would be totally mystified by it, so she'd dismiss it by saying 'that's a whistle only dogs can hear.' Or if something was weirdly expensive, she and Andrea would go, 'it's not even leather!' which is a line from Working Girl, of course. It was fun working there: amazing people, so smart, so much laughter. It taught me that creating a magazine that readers love — and makes them feel great about themselves — is important work, but it's also fun. My time there completely shaped me as an editor, and I use those lessons every day [as editor-in-chief] at Redbook."



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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Elana Fishman, digital fashion news editor, deputy digital editor (2011-2015)
"As a teen growing up in suburban South Florida who dreamt of moving to NYC to become a fashion editor, Lucky was my bible. I devoured (and heavily stickered!) each issue from start to finish the second it landed in my mailbox every month — particularly Jean Godfrey-June and Andrea Linett’s wonderfully personal-feeling pages, with their whimsical illustrations and thoughtful product recommendations. That inviting yet in-the-know voice hooked me from the beginning. You felt like you truly knew those staffers, and you just had to own every single thing they raved about, whether it was a perfectly cut little black dress, a scented candle, or a comfier-than-it-should-be pump. Nowadays, editors all have their own followings on social media, of course — but Lucky really started the whole concept of the editor as a public personality.

"I spent about four years at Lucky, and I can truly say that — for a good, long while, at least — it was my dream job. Over the course of my time there, our digital team doubled in size, our traffic grew exponentially, and I wrote and edited hundreds of stories I’m still so proud to share today. We had a very open pitch process — sure, there were traffic goals, but if a staffer was particularly passionate about something (anything!), we found a way to make that story work. In terms of building a site that perfectly reflected the magazine and the people who worked there — a personal, positive, style-centric space where you could totally geek out over a certain ankle boot or striped shirt — I think we absolutely succeeded, even in the age of rampant clickbait and endless listicles.

"Of course, it wasn’t just the product that made Lucky an amazing place to work — it was the people. While there, I had the privilege of working with some of the smartest, savviest women in the industry, several of whom I consider mentors today and many of whom I still talk to on a near-daily basis. When you leave a job, it’s common practice to say something about how much you’ll miss working with such a talented team — but at Lucky, everyone actually meant it."
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Photo: Donato Sardella/Getty Images.
Deb Schwartz, contributing editor, executive editor (1999-2005; 2011-2013)
“With Lucky, James Truman and Kim France launched something truly innovative. By foregrounding street style, showing real women wearing real clothes — including clothes by independent designers — that they could buy at actual stores, Lucky democratized fashion. It tapped into this passion that women had not just for 'fashion' as decreed by designers and stores, but for personal style.

"Lucky was able in some ways to dictate style, and certainly to change shopping. It was before e-commerce, before the internet blew up and just about every scrap of fabric was attainable everywhere. It was before you could Google 'What is that sweatshirt Beyoncé is wearing in that video?' If something appeared in Lucky with an 800 number to call — because Andrea Linett or Anne Kwon Keane or Jean Godfrey-June said 'This thing is amazing, we love it' — sales of that thing, whatever it was, would go through the roof. This impact was particularly strong at small boutiques and indie designers, which Kim and Andrea and the whole team supported from the beginning. Kim, Andrea, Gigi Guerra, Jen Ford, and so many incredibly talented women who worked at Lucky weren't 'fashion girls.'

"They weren't bound by trends. They were people who had a real passion for personal style, and were really into sharing that vision. Lucky also unpacked the usual 'women’s magazine' equation by focusing only and obsessively on fashion and beauty. Instead of making it into one section of a women’s magazine, which was the traditional model, they separated it out and elevated it, [to say] 'this is worthy of attention.' I started at Lucky right at the beginning, pre-launch, back when there were a handful of us working in some sad satellite outpost building, back when we thought it was an awesome idea to put non-fashion things like food and travel and art in the magazine. For the test issue we even put together a story on 'What kind of dog should you buy?' with all these dogs posed like fashion models against a white seamless.

"I was given the opportunity to craft the voice of the magazine. That voice was inspired by the way actual women talk to each other about clothes as opposed to how 'fashion' was typically discussed, without a lot of pretension and pomp and reverence and weird jargon, like 'frocks' and 'locks' instead of 'dresses' and 'hair.' It was really novel at the time. It of course came out of the casual, intimate feel of Sassy, but this time, it was about fashion and beauty. It was the voice, as Kim and Andrea used to say, of 'your best friend in the dressing room.' And that voice now is the voice of every single 'lifestyle' blog in the country and many magazines, podcasts, etc.

"My favorite memories of Lucky all have to do with the people. I was really lucky to work with Kim France, who’s just smart as shit, and a gifted writer and editor. Andrea Linett is insanely creative and has a spookily good grasp on trends. Brandon Holley is a freaking powerhouse of ideas and energy and taught me so much about the possibilities of digital. So many smart, talented people worked at Lucky, and there’s this diaspora of people who passed through there and who are bringing that Lucky savvy to their [current] projects. I’m going to forget people, but that list includes Elise Loehnen at Goop; Gigi Guerra at Target; Brekke Fletcher at WSJ Magazine; Regan Solmo at W; Liz Flahive, executive producer and writer on Nurse Jackie; Lori Bergamotto at Good Housekeeping; Norman Vanamee at Architectural Digest; Elle Strauss at Brides; Kate Johanson and Jenna Gottlieb at Shopbop; Jen Ford at Kate Spade...the list goes on.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Danielle Pergament, executive editor (2009-2011)
"Lucky was an incredibly special place to work. As big a staff as we had — and it was huge — it always felt intimate. Kim France went to great lengths to ensure synergy among her editors, and it paid off. We felt like a team, as corny as that is to say. Kim used to call it a 'delicate ecosystem' and that’s exactly what it was. She is an amazingly sharp editor who had a way of bringing out the best in her staff, and she fostered a smart, inspired environment in which we felt like we were all in it together.

"It was an inclusive magazine — not just among the people who worked there but also among its readership. I’ve never seen loyalty like that. When Lucky folded, it’s like the readership took it personally. People often tell me they feel like they lost a friend."
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Photo: Courtesy of Lucky.
Ray Siegel, fashion assistant, associate features editor, online fashion editor (2008-2012)
"More than any school or college that I’ve attended, Lucky is my true alma mater. I’m sure that every magazine editor has their story about the career that almost wasn’t, but I’ll always know that my success is owed to a series of lucky breaks — pun intended. The 'Lucky Breaks' section appeared at the end of every issue, offering rare deals that only the publication could provide. (Ms. France didn’t allow the use of puns, but I hope she’d let that one slide.)

"I was an intern at Seventeen during its prom issue season, when I got the phone call from Condé Nast; I put down the Claire's Boutique tiara. On my last day, I heard one of my not-very-nice supervisors whining about how she wished that she could get a job at Lucky. She should have quit immediately and applied for one. There isn’t a single thing about working in the fashion industry that I didn’t learn there.

"I was then the youngest person to hold a desk in the fashion closet (until I was upgraded to a cubicle) pre- and post-recession, during and after Kim France’s reign. She and her senior staff were some of the smartest people that I’ve ever worked with. I cannot say enough kind things about all of these women (and a few men) whose mentorship and friendship went far beyond the avoidance of word repetition, creating the ultimate handbag guide, or how to wear the same dress four different ways (let’s not forget that Lucky invented the very concept of rubrics like these).

"I hadn't realized it then, but they gave me and the editors who were just starting a learning experience that would make us far more qualified than any fashion blogger. With e-commerce being [the] way it is now, Lucky’s logical merging of editorial and shopping might no longer seem innovative. But before e-commerce was even conceivable, Lucky wrote the book on shopping content, and they did it better than anyone is doing it today…without repping a single word."
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Photo: L. Cohen/Getty Images.
Hope Greenberg, fashion director (2002-2010)
“You can’t say this about many jobs, but going to work during the years I was at Lucky didn’t feel like work. It felt like we were hanging out with our friends, who all happened to be really cool, smart, funny, stylish, ironic, interesting (I could go on and on!) people, and doing something we loved. Kim and Andrea did an amazing job of building a team of un-fashion-y fashion people.

"There were no divas, and no one lived or died on the style sword. Another great aspect was that everyone had totally different sensibilities, but there was an intersection on the fashion Venn diagram where we all met, and that’s one of the things that made the magazine work. We laughed a lot and spent as much time together outside the office as we did in it. Almost every day I’ll remember something funny someone on the team said or did, and I’ll crack up walking down the street by myself. We knew we had a pretty unique situation, and I don’t think anyone took it for granted."
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