Eva Chen Named Editor in Chief of Lucky

She becomes the first Asian-American editor-in-chief of a Condé Nast title

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Street Style - Day 7 - Spring 2013 New York Fashion Week
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Condé Nast has tapped former Teen Vogue beauty and health director Eva Chen as Lucky‘s new editor-in-chief, in hopes that her youth and social media savvy help lead the magazine into a digital renaissance. Chen, the first Asian-American editor-in-chief of a Condé Nast title, replaces Brandon Holley, who headed Lucky for two and and a half years and previously edited Jane. Holley plans to leave the company, though a spokesperson did not specify when she will depart or her post-Condé plans.

It seems that Chen, in her early 30s, is exactly the type of funny, relatable, and shopping-obsessed editor Lucky thinks will grow its audience. With her “@evachen212” social media empire, which boasts over 45,000 followers on Instagram and 47,000 on Twitter, Chen already reaches a wide audience of fashion addicts in a similar shopping-magazine style to Lucky’s pages, which take great care to show its readers where they can buy (and score deals on) particular items. Among Chen’s daily Instagram photos, readers can discover her covetable “accessories of the day,” new beauty brands and occasional pics with celebrities and their stylists.

“Eva has deep roots in publishing–both in print and digital–and has a real understanding of the importance of street style in fashion, which is so much a part of Lucky’s point of view,” a Condé Nast spokesperson told TIME. In a statement, Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and Condé Nast’s artistic director–who has been instrumental in Chen’s rise–highlighted Chen’s “foundation in both digital and e-commerce,” and dubbed her “the quintessential Lucky girl.” Wintour noted that Chen has already started working on her first issue: September.

Chen first cut her teeth as a beauty assistant at Elle back in 2002, and was soon promoted to associate stylist. Early on, she also worked as a fashion assistant at Lucky. In 2005, she was hired as the beauty and health director of Teen Vogue, and rose up under the tutelage of editor-in-chief Amy Astley, adding the title “special projects director” to her name in 2010.

The bigwigs at the company are evidently hoping that Chen, the first Condé editor to start a beauty blog, will help Lucky “get its mojo back,” as Ad Age recently put it. Some insiders even say her appointment could be a transition toward a digital-only version of the magazine, though the rumors are unconfirmed. In 2012, its advertising pages declined by 20 percent for a total of 894, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Circulation dropped 1.2 percent from the second half of 2011, to an average of 1.1 million, in the second half of 2012, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. And single-copy sales in the second half of 2012 fell by a whopping third, while the industry average decline is just 8.2 percent.

During the past several months, Condé execs have been in a tizzy overhauling the 13-year-old magazine (it launched when Chen was in college), hiring a new general manager, redesigning the book to feature more high-end fashion and photography, and trimming the frequency to 10 issues, combining the traditionally underperforming December/January and June/July issues. Chen started as a consultant in April, right after Wintour rose to her artistic director position, immediately taking an interest in reviving Lucky, with Chen as her proxy. “She was someone who would be a translator for Anna, and represent her vision in the magazine,” a source told WWD. “[Chen] was involved in everything from copy to design.” According to the fashion trade publication, “Wintour’s vision was to recast the magazine to be more polished and aspirational.”