Never Forget: The Legacy of Jane Magazine

It is said that all good things must come to an end but I am not really sure I am ready to deal with the fact that our little stints here at the Ironing Board Collective are coming to an end. Still, what better way to wrap it all up than to return to one of my first topics: fashion magazines.

I feel it is only fitting to take this time to remember one of the beacons of mainstream women’s fashion publications that left us in the mid-aughts—Jane magazine.

Remember that time when Drew Barrymore flashed David Letterman? Those were wild times.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of issues with Jane, which grew as Conde Nast-y tried to make the publication more accessible to increase ad revenue. It was, after all, a mainstream women’s fashion magazine and as such fell victim to many of the same issues that plague other rags of this genre.

Founder/editor Jane Pratt got increasingly bug eyed and crazy and was eventually replaced by Brandon Holly, who is currently the editor of Lucky, a publication that, despite it’s overall soul-draining content sucking, I have to give props to for its innovative ways of presenting new items to buy. Even if it is utterly pointless to create a flow chart showing how one can pair a bib necklace with a cashmere tank, I am a fan of instructional charts and hope I will soon see a Venn diagram (my chart of choice) gracing its pages soon. Holly wasn’t enough, however, and suddenly, I was getting Glamour instead of Jane. That was a sad, sad day.

Why was Jane so great? What can we learn from its passing and honoring its legacy?

Media conglomerations suck. Well duh, but think about it—Jane was sacked for failing to bring in the ad revenue and was thus replaced by the completely substandard Glamour magazine, which, at the time, was annoyingly trying to be as “witty” and “edgy,” presumably to not completely isolate Jane’s core readers. This did not work, and merely propelled me to write a strongly worded letter to subscriber services about just how subpar of a publication Glamour was, and how I did not want to be “counted” in their subscriber numbers for advertising purposes. Furthermore, I did not want to keep receiving that piece of shit magazine.

I received no response and the magazine kept coming. Corporations clearly are not people. If they were, they would recognize substance over diddling with numbers (that were still huge!) and I would still have a slightly smutty women’s magazine to read every month.

Even when Jane was in existence, the writers/editors would constantly complain about their lawyers dealing with Disney (which was the conglomeration that owned them at the time), which is refreshing considering how many in media have to just bite their lip and pretend that their paycheck isn’t actually coming from GE.

Bet that smarted.

Hollywood is filled with boring, normal people. One of my most favorite things about Jane is how they refused to kiss the asses of the Hollywood elite (Pratt’s unflinching support of Tom Cruise and his love for Xenu aside). Putting Faith Hill the on the cover and then going on to tell everyone that she is the most boring, uptight person in the world is totally balling  (this also confirmed my suspicions about both her and Kate Bosworth). I also remember how one time they had an interview with Gwen Stefani when she was throwing up from a hangover. This memory has soothed my soul when I have found myself in similar situations. It saddens me to think that we have been denied Jane’s commentary of all the recent Hollywood happenings.

I swear it is purely by coincidence that Kate Hudson is in this photo.

Speaking of Gwen Stefani throwing up, Jane knew you partied and was okay with it. This was sort of a pre-Last Night’s Party time, but instead of just alluding to the fact that you might have gotten a bit sloshed that weekend by providing you with several lame ass outfits for outfit changes throughout the weekend (as if you are going to wear anything but your party dress and then sweat pants covered in cat hair), they were straight up about it. Jane had hangover remedies, and, best of all, had a sort of self-deprecating way of acknowledging that we all make mistakes, and that is okay. This is so much more comforting than showing me the “perfect” sweater set to wear out to brunch with my future in-laws.

This is what comes up when you google "jane magazine armpit hair." I rest my case.

Armpit hair is cool. Seriously, I will forever love Jane magazine for doing an editorial on cool chicks sporting underarm hair. This seems simplistic, but really, can you even imagine another mainstream magazine not just showing a woman with hair in places that it shouldn’t be but outright endorsing it?! This is proof of how narrow the beauty standards that these bullshit publications uphold are.

Years later, I still think about Jane, especially when I page through a current mainstream women’s magazine. There is a yearning in my heart for the witty trashiness of Jane that cannot be replaced by any other publication. Funny enough, at work we came across some issues of Jane from 2005 and, upon looking through them, realized that they could have been from this year. Of course, that could speak to lack of innovation in fashion, but, to me, it exemplifies how the spirit of Jane will never die.

Earlier this year, it was announced the Jane Pratt and Tavi Gevinson, of “The Rookie” fame, were teaming up to create a new magazine for teen girls. I got overly excited about this and wrote a long-winded, sickeningly sentimental letter trying to get them to let me write for them. I was rejected, but then I heard that the partnership was no longer happening, that Tavi was doing it on her own, so I suppose Jane Pratt and I can hang out in our little rejection boat together. Perhaps Rookie will grow into the next Jane (minus these issues as Bitch staff writers laid out). One can only hope.

About hollyhilgenberg

A freelance writer specializing in vintage, thrifted and resale fashion and critical media studies. Professional whim chaser and self-proclaimed Gemini. I blog over at Operation Sparkle (www.operationsparkle.com) and run the creative women zine C.L.A.P. (Creative Ladies are Powerful).

One comment

  1. Tanya

    I am Val as in Val. I am Val as in Val.

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