Mary Jane Story

In 1902 New York Herald journal started publishing comics that readers loved. “Buster Brown” created by Richard Outcault was the story of three characters: Buster Brown, Mary Jane and Tige. The character of Mary Jane was inspired by author’s daughter and was always presented in shoes with a buttoned bar.

American footwear producer called Brown Shoe Company noticed the potential of this story. They bought rights from the artist and patented “Mary Jane”. In 1904 they launched a collection of their shoes signed with names of Buster Brown characters. Their marketing campaign was exceptional – a part of it was sending actors playing Buster Brown and Mary Jane on a tour around US. The collection became very successful.

Mary Janes were marketed as the basic girl’s shoe just as oxfords were already a number one among boys. The time of unisex children’s shoes came to an end as Mary Janes were designed especially for girls.



Little girls loved those shoes while also some adults couldn’t avoid their charm. During the roaring 20s ladies wore beautiful and more mature models of Mary Janes for dancing. In some models the strap was exchanged for a ribbon or a more complex pattern of straps. Evening attire often consisted of satin, richly decorated, hand-painted models in reds, blues and golds. Heels were often decorated with zircons, sequins or painted with a shiny gold paint. During the day ladies chose simpler models.


Sources: foot talk, Independent


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