When former British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman resigned in January, the question of who would replace her hung in the air for months. This morning, news finally broke that acclaimed fashion director and stylist Edward Enninful would be filling her shoes. It’s a changing of the guard that’s ripe for analysis, both because print is in the midst of a years-long evolution and because Enninful himself is breaking ground for British Vogue.
“The first man and the first black editor to take the helm of Britain’s most powerful fashion publication in its 100-year history, Mr. Enninful will begin his new role Aug. 1,” reports the New York Times.
Enninful has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He got his start at i-D at the tender age of 18 –“the youngest ever to have been named an editor at a major international fashion title” — and most recently served as W Magazine’s creative and fashion director for six years. He’s long been respected as a creative visionary, having worked with every fashion icon you can likely name. Says the Times: “There are few individuals as supremely well connected as Mr. Enninful.”
I tapped six industry vets for their personal take on the new appointment (and print media in general). Scroll down to read what they told me, tell us how you feel about it in the comments and then, if you’re still in an Edward kind of mood, stalk his whole career via his BoF 500 profile, his Twitter and his Instagram (it’s all so good).
“Edward’s appointment is exciting as it reflects an emerging trend wherein fashion magazines appoint fashion directors as editors-in-chief. I think the announcement, coupled with the recent announcement of our own Anne-Marie Curtis, who went from from Fashion Director to Editor-in-Chief of ELLE UK, shows that there has been a shift in approach.
On a personal level, I’m excited about a legacy magazine like Vogue appointing a black editor-in-chief. I am excited to see how he opens up the pages of British Vogue to a wider scope of people.
As Fashion Features Director of a competing publication, I read British Vogue regularly, but I’ll be checking for his first issues with a new sense of anticipation. It’s been a long time since the UK market has seen this much change among its industry leaders. I think the change is ultimately healthy for the print industry, as it will allow for fresh ideas and new voices across the board.”
–Kenya Hunt, Fashion Features Director at Elle UK
“I’m a HUGE fan of British Vogue (Lucinda Chambers is definitely one of my heroes), and am very curious as to how the first man to ever hold the EIC title there will make his mark. Following the T Magazine appointment [of Hanya Yanagihara], there’s definitely an interesting shift in leadership right now.”
–Christene Barberich, Co-Founder and EIC of Refinery29
“I’m really excited by this. Enninful is hugely respected within the industry. I hope he will be an arbiter for change. Representation and diversity in UK press is not as good as in the US and of course he is not only male, but black. I have collected British Vogue for 16 years and I will be excited to read it from now on. There’s a lot of change happening in the UK press right now among the senior positions and, while this one was a hot topic, I think it’s a good choice.”
–Pandora Sykes, British writer and stylist
“I think it’s a brilliant appointment. I always say EICs are either writers or stylists at heart and Edward is a rare talent that fulfills the latter. I end up with tears from so many of his shoots on my mood boards. While I don’t regularly read British Vogue, maybe this will change that. If a magazine is looking great I definitely start to pay attention and am more likely to pick up a copy. I recently added Self Service to my repertoire for this very reason.”
–Kerry Pieri, Fashion/Features Director at Harper’s Bazaar
“I think his appointment is groundbreaking. I’m a reader of British Vogue and I love it. Not only because I love British culture, but also because I love a good feature article. (I look for the features before the shoots in a fashion magazine because of my previous job as a features editor.)
I’ve actually been an admirer of Alexandra Schulman, but with Enninful’s arrival, I think (and hope) the quality of the content will stay the same. My guess is British Vogue will go the way of cult, indie magazines such as i-D, etc. More groundbreaking shoots, covers, diversity in every issue…
Another male appointment by Condé Nast is very interesting. Also, with Enninful’s background and connections, I see this as a shift to a more up-to-date point of view — in tune with the times, popular culture, technology, etc. I guess U.S. Vogue will not be criticized for having celebrities rather than models on the cover anymore. 🙂
-Yaprak Aras, founder of SOUQ and former features editor of Vogue Turkey
“Enninful is definitely a creative visionary. I know his impact will be felt most saliently on the fashion pages, but I’m excited to see whether the editorial angle changes too under his stewardship. British Vogue is one of my favorite titles. Even though it’s technically considered a glossy, there’s a playfulness and flexibility about it that makes it feel more enthusiastic or inviting than its contenders. Relative to the indies, it’s more relatable.
This doesn’t really change my feelings re: print in general — young people don’t pick up print magazines as much any more, I’m not sure that will change — but for sure content will always be important, it’s just the consumption method that has changed pretty radically.”
Leandra, Man Repeller (hi)
Photo by Timur Emek via Getty Images.