Condé Nast is entrusting the future of Lucky magazine to a name from its not-so-distant past. In a surprise move Wednesday, the publisher said Brandon Holley, who headed Jane magazine at the time of its 2007 shuttering, will return to the company to succeed Kim France as editor in chief of the struggling shopping-centric monthly.
“This is a decision we came to together,” Condé Nast editorial director Tom Wallace told WWD of France’s departure. “Kim France created a brand and not many people in this business can say that. Condé Nast owes her a lot.”
France has overseen the title since its 2000 launch, and presided over a particularly rocky stretch of late. Lucky’s ad pages fell 26.8 percent last year versus 2008, and are down 1.4 percent through this month, according to Media Industry Newsletter. It was the only fashion title tracked by WWD to register an ad page decline this month.
Holley, who starts on Sept. 20, will almost certainly be expected to resurrect the brand with a heavy focus on its digital potential. Shortly after Jane’s demise, she signed on as launch editor of Yahoo Shine, the Web content giant’s women’s-interest portal that went live in 2008. Wallace said Holley’s Web experience was a definite draw, as was her prior go-round with the company.
“We never really lost touch with Brandon,” Wallace said. “At Jane, she performed heroically with what proved to be an impossible business model.”
He said Holley would be charged with developing the Lucky brand across “multiple platforms,” presumably drawing on her newly acquired expertise to ramp up its presence in app stores as well. She will not, however, oversee a complete switch to digital. Wallace was adamant that Lucky has no intention of abandoning its print edition.
Holley, who has worked for Yahoo from her Brooklyn home (somewhat famously, thanks to a New York Times profile earlier this year), sounded ready to return to the office ranks when reached Wednesday. Among other lessons, she said her stint on the digital frontier showed her the genuine sense of community on the Web, something she’s eager to apply to Lucky.
“I definitely want to bring community and social into the mix,” she said. “That’s going to be one of the first things I do.”
Holley said she wasn’t always sure that she wanted to return to the print world, but things felt different this time around.
“When Jane shut I was talking to some magazines, but every time I went in, I got a stomachache,” she said. “I don’t think I’m going back to a magazine company…. I’m going to build a digital presence.”