Lucky magazine is being shut down, drawing a close to a media story that started 15 years ago when Condé Nast launched the then-controversial but ultimately wildly successful shopping magazine.
Reports were swirling yesterday about the fate of Lucky magazine — had the print edition folded? Had the entire operation shut down? According to insiders, the former is true, while the latter is still to be determined. The Cut spoke to a former staffer, who said that another brutal round of layoffs took place, including the remaining print team. “People who worked there for 12, 13, 14, 15 years were laid off without severance.”
Lucky had fallen from some pretty great heights. It now appears to be ending its life as a castoff mashup of Condé Nast and BeachMint, a lifestyle publisher and e-tailer based in Los Angeles.
But when it launched, it shook up the New York media world with a bold combination of editorial and commerce that broke with the longtime separation between edit and advertising. Over time, Lucky grew to be a gigantic title and huge moneymaker for Condé. It spawned a short-lived men’s spinoff, Cargo, that I contributed to for a while in the early 2000s.
But everything that Lucky once did well, the web now does better. Additionally, online shopping via style websites provides retail partners the chance to reach customers when they’re ready to buy. The “friction” has been taken away.
Lucky provoked abundant worry when it first arrived. Condé Nast was no stranger to fashion — it published and still publishers Vogue and a bunch of other glossy fashion mags — but it also had Vanity Fair and the New Yorker in its stable. The concern was that the edit-ad wall would start to fall, and that journalists would no longer be immune to commerce being embedded in their stories.
As it turns out, the web took care of that, leaving publications such as Lucky with a legacy print product that served its innovative purpose after the dot.com meltdown, but that couldn’t keep pace once the retail web took off.
There’s been some sniping online about Lucky’s former editor, Eva Chen, keeping up her Instagram posting schedule, but she did depart a few months ago. And I don’t really think Lucky was all that relevant anymore as a media property. Condé had effectively jettisoned it when it offloaded the brand, and the title wasn’t moving to 1 World Trade Center with the rest of the Condé empire. I honestly hadn’t thought about Lucky for over a decade, after having thought about Lucky a lot from 2000-05.
Lucky climbed very high in the media world. And now it’s fallen very, very far.