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Joseph Magnin

The Joseph Magnin Company was a high-end specialty department store founded in San Francisco, California by Joseph Magnin.

Joseph was the son of Isaac and Mary Ann Magnin, who founded the I.Magnin & Co. high-end specialty department store. Joseph Magnin was active in the running of the I. Magnin Co. until 1913. He had been passed over by Mary Ann, offering more prominent company positions to her other three sons John, Samuel and Grover. Joseph left I. Magnin and cashed in his share of ownership. After a short time in real estate he went back to retail and bought into a store called Newman-Levinson. Later as he bought out his partners he changed the name to Joseph Magnin Co.

Initially Joseph Magnin was a midrange supplier of apparel and millinery and was viewed as a second-rate I.Magnin, earning a nickname “the other Magnin.” For many years Joseph Magnin Co. operated in the shadows of I. Magnin. I. Magnin had many established providers of better fashions and demanded exclusivity; the sellers were barred from selling to Joseph Magnin if they wished to continue to do business with I. Magnin. Joseph Magnin at times did use consumer confusion on the Magnin name to their advantage by calling the store J. Magnin in signage, advertisements, and store bags. The store also self identified as JM.

After the World War II, under the leadership of Joseph’s son Cyril Magnin, the Joseph Magnin Co. went more upscale and began courting the younger woman’s market. JM advertisements were distinctive as being glamorous, sophisticated, trendy and youthful. The San Francisco store also included the Wolves Den, for men only. Men could shop in a clublike area while seated, served martinis, smoking cigars, and being shown merchandise by JM's most attractive women.

In 1967, the chain reached its peak popularity with over 32 stores. It had become one of the premier luxury department store chains in the country. In 1969 Cyril Magnin arranged for the Joseph Magnin Co. to be purchased by Amfac, Inc. of Hawaii. Amfac owned Liberty House, among other stores, on the West Coast and Hawaii. Cyril remained the chairman of the board of JM. In 1984 Amfac closed the Joseph Magnin Co., the same year as the West Coast Liberty House stores were closed.

During the 1960s, Betty Brader became one of the chief illustrators of Joseph Magnin posters. She also worked for Neiman-Marcus, Saks, Franklin Simon, and various advertising agencies.  Brader won numerous awards throughout her career for her innovative illustrations.  Her style of fashion illustration is copied widely today by fashion illustrators. The posters she produced for Joseph Magnin were highly acclaimed in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Joseph Magnin cooperated with many American and international shoe designers, and manufacturers, including Herbert Levine, Margaret Gerrold, Dan Berk, Sabrina, Carel, Leon Unatine, Palizzio, Mister and others.

Based on the text from Wikipedia