For the first time in its century-long existence, British Vogue has elected not only its first male editor-in-chief, but also its first black leader, Edward Enninful.
Enninful is already an esteemed member of the fashion community: He currently holds the title of style director at W magazine, a fellow Condé Nast publication, and previously served as the youngest fashion director of i-D magazine. In Enninful’s new position, effective on August 1, he will succeed Alexandra Schulman, who stepped down from the magazine in January after 25 years with the company. He will continue working on the next few issues of W, including the September issue, before making the transition.
His appointment was met with widespread support in the fashion community. Stephanie Mark, co-founder of Coveteur, said Enninful’s selection is indicative of a larger transformation for both Vogue and the fashion industry, as it continues to push toward increased diversity and fresh perspectives.
“This is an exciting first for British Vogue and the industry as a whole, since Edward will be the first male to head up the title,” she wrote in an email. “His creativity, perspective and non-traditional publishing background can only mean new and exciting things to come. It will be interesting to see his take on ‘.com’ and the digital voice of the publication, as well. In a time where diversity, innovation and creativity are essential, this seems like a perfect fit.”
Elaine Welteroth — editor-in-chief of sister publication Teen Vogue, and the first black woman to lead the magazine — took to Instagram to share her support of Enninful’s new role, posting a photo of him along with the caption “…And we all REJOICE!!! Cheering you on @edward_enninful!! So deserving. (ALSO: headshot #GOALS).” Likewise, Phillip Picardi, the digital editorial director of Teen Vogue who works closely with Welteroth, sang Enninful’s praises on Twitter.
Enninful is also immersed in popular and celebrity culture, and friends like Rihanna expressed excitement for the new role. Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive at Condé Nast International, said Enninful’s experience across a wide breadth of areas — including fashion, Hollywood and music — made him uniquely qualified for the role. “Edward is one of the most talented and accomplished fashion editors in the world,” he said in a statement.
Congrats @edward_enninful !! For the culture, for the kidz!!! @britishvogue I respect it! It’s about time! #EditorInChief
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Schulman, who decided to leave Vogue after more than two decades as top editor to pursue new opportunities, is credited with helping to increase Vogue’s circulation 12 percent during her time as editor. “I realized that I very much wanted to experience a different life and look forward to a future separate to Vogue,” Schulman told The Guardian in January.
Enninful will be tasked with continuing to help the publication evolve and build circulation. Before Vogue, he made strides in bolstering diversity in fashion. In 2008, he was the brains behind the first “all black” issue of Vogue Italia, which exclusively featured men and women of color. The issue sold out in the U.S. and the U.K. within 72 hours, and Vogue reprinted several thousand more in response.
In addition to his work at W, Enninful held an influential tenure at i-D magazine, where he first got his foot in the door as a model while completing high school. At age 18, he took over for Beth Summers, i-D’s fashion director, becoming the youngest recorded fashion director of a media organization. His work at W helped increase advertising pages by 16 percent, and during his time as director and fashion consultant, he’s collaborated with several brands and major fashion icons including Kate Moss and Pat McGrath.
“As he’s the first man and the first black editor to helm British Vogue, this is truly exciting news,” said Jennifer Davidson, editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot. “At a time when magazines are increasingly striving to celebrate diversity both in print and behind the scenes, we’re looking forward to seeing Enninful use his new platform to help further a more inclusive vision for the Vogue brand.”
Photo courtesy of Essence magazine