How Mary Jane Shoes Got Started

A Comprehensive Guide to How Mary Jane Shoes Got Started

Styles are often recycled from earlier generations, phasing in and out of style. Some styles stick around for a few years after their inception, then permanently fade to black. Certain fashions fade out, only to come back into full swing many years after they were first seen by society. While fashion trends can never be predicted, expected, or reasoned to come back into style in the near or distant futures, some have never went out of style since they were first seen by humanity.

Mary Jane shoes are one of these pieces of fashion, being worn in one capacity or another since they were first produced in 1904. The history of Mary Jane shoes is lengthy and entirely unconventional. In respect to their popularity, however, it doesn’t really matter how they came about — Mary Jane shoes are one of the most popular specific types of footwear in the past 120-plus years.

These shoes got their start from a recurring comic strip in the same Sunday newspapers. The year was 1902. Mr. Richard Felton Outcault worked for the New York Herald, the New York Daily, and several other regular publications in the Empire State. Mr. Outcault was already mildly successful at the time, known for his comedic animations and illustrations. He — it’s notable that his name is often shortened to R. F. Outcault — developed a new comic earlier that April.

Later released for its first issuance on May 4th, 1902, Buster Brown was about a young teenage boy dressed in a powder wig, taken place in the late 18th- and early 19th-century. Buster’s illustrated life included lots of scolding from his Boy Scout troop master, taking care of his adorable pit bull terrier Time, and trying his darndest to court Mary Jane, an adolescent female about the same age as Buster.

Buster Brown went on to run until 1921 — more than a decade after Brand House Direct Mary Jane Shoes came about — earning a spot in every single Sunday newspaper published by both the New York Daily and the New York Herald. Mr. Outcault knew he had created a successful weekly comedic piece after he received tons of praise from fans, interested advertisers, and larger publishing companies. It was in 1904, just two short years after Buster Brown, Mary Jane alongside her soon-to-be Mary Jane shoes, and their dog Tige began sharing their personal life experiences — fictional, albeit — with United States citizens, that the father of modern comic strips thought he could profit from selling rights to Buster, Mary Jane, and Tige.

The then-successful professional comic-slash-artist took his publishing rights to Buster Brown to that year’s World’s Fair. Many businesses were sold the rights to advertise using Buster’s and Mary Jane’s likenesses, along with the rest of the popular comic’s likeness — don’t forget Mary Jane shoes, as well.

Brown Shoe Company gained more from the comic strip’s rights than any other entity. They began selling Mary Jane shoes. The rest is history.

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