Who is Mary Jane?

Posted on January 12, 2012 by LiveBare There have been 10 comment(s)

The term "Mary Jane" is commonly used to describe a particular style of women’s footwear, but have you ever wondered how this shoe received its name? We have, and we found the answer:

In 1902, cartoonist Richard Oucault created a comic strip called Buster Brown, which quickly became very popular. The comic portrayed the antics of Buster Brown, a troublesome young boy, and his little sister named Mary Jane.

In 1904, Outcault traveled to the World’s Fair and sold licenses to 200 companies, allowing them use of the Buster Brown characters to endorse their products. One of the more prominent advertising campaigns he authorized came from the Brown Shoe Company. The cartoon characters Buster and Mary Jane wore closed, low-cut shoes with a strap across the instep—a style very popular at the time and similar to shoes made by the company.

Buster Brown Shoe Button

The campaign was a huge success. At one point, the Brown Shoe Company even hired actors to dress up as characters from the comic strip and sent them to visit theaters and stores throughout the country.

Buster Brown Actor at Younkers

Although the low-cut strapped shoe was commonly worn by both boys and girls in the early 20th century, it eventually became known as a women’s shoe and took the name of the female character, Mary Jane. Today, over a century later, the style of the Mary Jane is still very similar to its original design—and still very popular.

Soft Star Merry Jane in Shiny Pewter

The elves at Soft Star are very excited to offer our own minimalist version of the Mary Jane, but we prefer to write it as "Merry Jane" since they make feet so happy!


This post was posted in In the Workshop and was tagged with brown, buster brown, comic, Mary Jane, shoe

10 Responses to Who is Mary Jane?

  • Sej Morrice
    Sej Morrice says:

    My little boy wants a pair to match mine. In pink. He might just get them!

    Posted on January 12, 2012 at 5:41 AM

  • Peggy Sue
    Peggy Sue says:

    What color are these Mary Janes?

    Posted on January 12, 2012 at 6:11 AM

  • Charlene Andersen
    Charlene Andersen says:

    Our boys (Charlie, 6, and Georgie, 4) have just gotten into the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories (circa 1926)Christopher Robin is clearly drawn wearing Mary Jane shoes! The boys are itching for us to order them each a pair!

    Posted on January 12, 2012 at 6:20 AM

  • Charlene Andersen
    Charlene Andersen says:

    Our boys (Charlie, 6, and Georgie, 4) have just gotten into the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories (circa 1926)Christopher Robin is clearly drawn wearing Mary Jane shoes! The boys are itching for us to order them each a pair!

    Posted on January 12, 2012 at 6:20 AM

  • LiveBare

    Hi Peggy Sue. The shoes shown in the picture are shiny pewter. It's available as a design-your-own color option.

    Posted on January 13, 2012 at 1:42 AM

  • LiveBare

    We're happy to make them for him!

    Posted on January 13, 2012 at 1:45 AM

  • LiveBare

    I love those stories! Thanks for sharing, Charlene.

    Posted on January 13, 2012 at 1:52 AM

  • LiveBare

    I love those stories! Thanks for sharing, Charlene.

    Posted on January 13, 2012 at 1:52 AM

  • Bill
    Bill says:

    Single strap Mary Jane type shoes were worn by both boys and girls in the USA until the 1930s. But they continued to be worn by boys in the UK after this date and were not called Mary Janes there. In fact, Prince Di dressed her sons Prince William and Prince Harry in strap shoes until they went to school. I can email pictures to anyone who contacts me at bllbolen@netscape.net. My daughter and I are writing a book on this subject.

    Posted on January 18, 2013 at 4:27 AM

  • Soft Star Elves
    Soft Star Elves says:

    Thanks Bill!

    Posted on January 22, 2013 at 7:58 AM

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