For years, Condé Nast shopping bible Lucky has been dogged by rumors that it will eventually go all-digital or even shut down completely. Now, Condé Nast is dispelling both of those scenarios with a major statement about the future of the Lucky brand.
Today, Condé is announcing plans to spin off Lucky’s print and digital components and combine them with e-commerce platform BeachMint, creating a new, totally independent company called The Lucky Group. BeachMint, which owns private-label online brands like JewelMint and StyleMint, will provide the technology for a brand-new (and as-yet-unnamed) Lucky e-commerce destination launching in early 2015.
Serving as CEO of The Lucky Group will be BeachMint co-founder Josh Berman. Lucky’s current general manager, Gillian Gorman Round, will be the company’s president, while Lucky editor in chief Eva Chen will be its chief creative officer. Condé Nast, the company’s largest stakeholder, will continue to print Lucky and work with the brand on corporate advertising contracts, while Condé’s artistic director Anna Wintour will be involved with Lucky as an advisor.
“When Lucky launched in 2001, it was ahead of its time, and we are now able to fulfill its brand promise, which is to be able to fulfill the transaction for the consumer,” said Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg.
E-commerce has been a buzzword at Lucky ever since Gorman Round and Chen joined the brand more than a year ago. Before, the site had experimented with commerce, but mostly through Skimlinks that led to third-party sites.
“If you pick up a copy of Lucky, there’s probably 200-plus different brands that Eva and her team are talking about, but they all linked to other sites,” explained Berman. “We realized that there’s a gap there. If we created our own e-commerce site and brought the women all the way from discovery to purchase, that could be an incredible opportunity.”
While plenty of e-commerce platforms, from Net-a-Porter to Shopbop to Gilt, have spent the past several years curating the content-commerce mix, according to Gorman Round, Lucky’s roots in editorial content will give its platform a major advantage. “There are a lot of digital properties out there, most of whom I love, and they’re now adding a print product or an editorial viewpoint,” she said. “But the reality is that they’re coming from commerce and backending it; we’re starting with the editorial viewpoint.”
Chen also believes that the new site’s emphasis on Lucky’s signature high-low mix will set it apart from the competition. “Part of my job as CCO is making sure that mix of everything from Loeffler Randall to Lanvin is represented,” she said. “I want the site to mirror the way I shop.”
The print magazine and its editorial staff will remain completely intact, continuing at the same frequency. “My fashion editors won’t suddenly become merchandisers,” Chen assured. She plans to build a separate merchandising team for the new platform; meanwhile, LuckyMag.com’s current editorial team will eventually transition to creating content for the e-commerce site.
The Lucky Group will also be moving into a new office later this year instead of following Condé Nast to the World Trade Center. Chen said that the team has been looking at offices around Astor Place and Flatiron, closer to other fashion and tech startups. “One of the reasons it’s so important for us to be a separate entity is so we can be nimble and make independent tech decisions,” she said. “It’s not at all about cutting costs or streamlining; it’s actually about adding this whole separate layer.”
BeachMint, meanwhile, will continue to be headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., and plans to consolidate its own private label sites into one or two verticals, separate from Lucky’s platform.