A transformational editor and publisher who influenced how fashion and pop culture is covered today, John B. Fairchild died in February at the age of 87.
The head of his family’s business, Fairchild Publications Inc., for more than 30 years until he retired in 1997, Mr. Fairchild, as he was known around the newsroom, turned Women’s Wear Daily from a dusty trade paper to the leading source of fashion news and society gossip.
Under his direction, W was conceived and launched, and WWD’s coverage and footprint in international markets greatly expanded. During his tenure, which began in 1960, Fairchild shined a light on designers, their work, their personalities and the flock of socialites who donned their clothing. He injected the paper with irreverence, sometimes by grading fashion shows and famously proclaiming if something — or someone — was “in” or “out” and coining numerous terms and nicknames, from Hot-Pants and Nouvelle Society to Jackie O and The Social Moth. He also infused a sense of urgency to how fashion is covered by publishing designers’ sketches of new collections as soon as they appeared on the runway, not a month later, which was customary at the time.
In 1986, Fairchild’s company would be bought by Capital Cities, which later would merge with ABC, then be acquired by The Walt Disney Co. In 1997, Fairchild retired, making him the last Fairchild to head the company founded by his family more than 100 years prior. Since then, the company has changed hands two more times and is now part of Penske Media Corp.