Edward Enninful will finally take the reins as editor-in-chief of British Vogue on August 1, and he’s given us a glimpse of what to expect with a slew of flashy contributing editor announcements. Major industry players including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury, Sam McKnight and Guido Palau are slated to be regular contributors to the glossy, making for a buzzier masthead than most and hinting at the need for today’s print publications to go the extra mile in drumming up interest.
“I think today’s magazines struggle to create excitement and buzz, and Enninful has certainly achieved that with these masthead appointments,” said Jennifer Davidson, editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot. “Time will tell whether this is the editorial equivalent of stunt-casting or if these celebrity contributors will actually add substance.”
“It’s clear this move comes at a point when British Vogue is doing all they can to either stabilize or increase circulation of their print and digital properties,” argued Jim Fosina, CEO and founder of Fosina Marketing Group, which works with an array of publishers, including Condé Nast and Hearst.
British Vogue’s circulation was down to 195,083 copies in the second half of 2016 (according to Condé Nast Britain), a significant change from its 2008 peak of 219,026. That number is also in stark contrast to American Vogue, which boasted a circulation of 1.2 million during the same period in 2016.
What’s more, an overhaul in the vein of Enninful’s is also only done in desperate times — usually at the behest of advertisers, according to Fosina.
“They need to be very careful here,” said Fosina. “If the reader sees the publication as a ‘shill’ for these editors, they will discount the overall value of the publication.”
Davidson is less concerned that it will be a problem, noting that social media has forced consumers to expect a level of endorsement and salesmanship from most fashion and beauty influencers today. Magazines have also long had to reconcile advertiser interests with their editorial content. “I am sure that [this group] will be able to find a palatable balance,” she said.