Joe McKenna has exited T: The New York Times Style magazine, WWD has learned. McKenna, who served as the magazine’s fashion director at large, was lured to T by editor in chief Deborah Needleman when she took the helm in late 2012.
Needleman confirmed the news, offering: “It’s true he’s not working with us anymore. His contract is finished and we aren’t renewing. I have great respect for him and am proud of the work we did together.”
Insiders said there had been some friction between McKenna and the staff. It’s no secret that most high-level editors or creative types have strong points of view and rigorous demands, and neither McKenna nor Needleman is an exception. It was said that the relationship wasn’t sustainable any longer. McKenna departed about two weeks ago.
Needleman’s T has become a revolving door of sorts. Last year, the magazine lost a handful of T alumnae to Time Inc.’s Travel + Leisure, but Needleman began building back her team and making key hires on both the digital and print sides. The supplement has largely been considered a success at The Times, as it is a vehicle to bring in new advertisers, despite broader declines in print advertising at the newspaper. Case in point: In September, T Magazine said its ad pages rose 4 percent to 164 over last year.
Still, McKenna’s departure is a big blow for T, which is perennially in a dogfight with insurgent digital fashion properties as well as The Wall Street Journal’s glossy supplement WSJ and monthly fashion titles.
Having McKenna on the masthead was a coup for Needleman, who, at the time of her arrival to The Times, was looking to flex her fashion muscle. The British stylist, who moved to New York in 1986, is considered a force in the fashion industry. While he is perhaps best known for his freelance collaborations with Calvin Klein and Bruce Weber, McKenna has also styled shoots for W, Vogue and Vanity Fair. He has also worked on campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Miu Miu, Jil Sander, Balmain, Giorgio Armani and Chloé, among others.