Leive is the latest big-name magazine editor in chief to resign in the last eight days alone. The editor, who had been the face of Glamour since 2001 and an employee of Condé Nast for 29 years, informed her staff of her exit on Thursday morning.
She didn’t, however, tell them — or anyone else at the company — about a New York Times interview she did a day earlier about her exit. “I just love love love the people I work with,” she told the Times — although apparently not enough to tell them of her departure first.
Her plan to do an interview with the Times mirrored how Vanity Fair’s Carter left Condé last week. He, too, called the Times without first telling his employer. The difference, according to sources, was that Leive kept the corporate communications department in the dark. It has been suggested that executives, including Condé’s artistic director and longtime Leive rival Anna Wintour, did not know a story was coming either, but that tidbit could not be confirmed by Condé.
True to form, Leive’s decision to depart is following the trend, not setting it, just like Glamour. That’s been the problem at the magazine under her tenure over the last few years as its performance has flagged — which is about as long as the rumor that she’s going to be pushed out has been making the rounds.
According to the Alliance for Audited Media, Glamour’s total, paid and verified circulation was $2.3 million in 2016, a 1.5 percent dip. Newsstand sales fell 39.4 percent that year to 111,713. (Keep in mind the steep discounting in magazine subscriptions in recent years). For some perspective, in 2014, Glamour’s circulation was about flat to 2016, but newsstand sales totaled 215,609. Although the newsstand has suffered greatly in the digital age, Glamour has fallen off in terms of advertising revenue. Once one of the cash cows at Condé, the title is rumored to be ailing and lost from a digital perspective.
Nonetheless, Leive has been the face of Glamour through the good times and the bad. And she has played an instrumental role in focusing women’s media’s attention on body positivity, as well as on powerful women in politics and culture.
That hasn’t been lost on anyone at Condé, including Wintour, who gave a heartfelt speech about Leive’s legacy during the staff meeting. Despite the years of tension between the two ambitious editors, the famously stoic Wintour was said to be “emotional” about the editor’s resignation, insiders told WWD.
Leive departs the company at a tumultuous time, as it is in the throes of a restructuring, as well as what are expected to be very steep budget cuts on the editorial side. Those cuts, for most of the well-paid, jet-setting editors in chief, means they may have to lay off many of the staffers who do the grunt work to make their magazines.
For now, Leive will remain at the company until the end of the year, but she hinted in her departure memo that she is looking to be part of the “electric moment for women” and “activism” that has become a prevalent force in President Trump’s America.
A search is under way for her successor at Glamour. Although internal candidates — Teen Vogue editor in chief Elaine Welteroth and Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee — have been bandied about as possible replacements, sources said an external candidate is more likely. It is believed that the company is looking for an editor with a nontraditional background — meaning one beyond print or digital — perhaps someone with television or video experience as well.
Back at One World Trade Center, Leive’s jarring exit irked Condé Nast employees, who had already been spooked by the all-too-well-publicized departure of Carter last week. Sources described the feeling in the building as one of “shock” in light of departures and budget cuts and business-side changes said to be waiting in the wings.