Welch, GQ’s current style editor, assumes the new role as editor after Condé Nast revealed plans for the glossy to up its frequency from biannual to quarterly last month. At the same time, Condé also shuttered GQ’s sibling men’s magazine, Details. The renaissance of GQ Style, which already exists under Condé Nast International in the U.K., where it is said to thrive, will likely plug the hole left open by Details’ demise in the U.S.
Welch told WWD that he’s hoping to expand on GQ Style’s fashion coverage, highlighting the designers who head up some of the most prestigious houses. “High fashion is the perfect crossroads of art and commerce,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity to capture that.”
The editor, who worked on GQ Style while he was serving as GQ’s style director, gave an example of Hedi Slimane’s influence on Saint Laurent as its creative director.
Aside from “deep-dive” stories on fashion, Welch said he’s hoping to shed a light on his generation’s lifestyle, which entails an aspirational purview and a global perspective. “What we’re really trying to capture is this very modern idea of the good life,” said the 34-year-old editor. “We’re looking at lifestyle in general through the prism of fashion.”
Pop culture, music, design, art and other topics will be in the mix, which puts GQ Style squarely in the camp of other men’s glossies. Speaking of the men’s media market, which has been volatile to say the least with yet another relaunch of Maxim; changes at Playboy; the closures of FHM and Details; recent cuts at GQ, and a tough sales climate, how will Welch make his mark?
“I unequivocally think that the market is underserved. There’s a lot of great stuff out there, but I’m part of a new generation that doesn’t quite have our niche…completely captured in magazine form,” the editor said. “I think there’s a hunger for that, for it to be laid out there in an aspirational way.”
Concretely, what will set GQ Style apart is the size and frequency of the magazine. Welch explained that the large-scale quarterly is more like a coffee table book. At about 200 pages, each issue will cost $14.99 and feature high paper stock and macrophotography of products with a high-end aesthetic.
Although the next issue of GQ Style will be out on March 1, Welch’s first issue will debut on May 15. Welch said he’d tap GQ staff and make select hires, and use his old boss, GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson as a sounding board.
“I’m lucky to have worked for Jim [Nelson, GQ’s editor in chief] for a while,” said Welch, who joined GQ as a senior editor in 2007. “He’s kindly offered to be there when I need his advice. His editorial vision is one I’ve looked up to for some time.”
Nelson, who groomed Welch for the role, said: “We want GQ Style to showcase a luxurious sense of style and a sophisticated, worldly way of life — GQ with a gold passport. And Will Welch is the man for the job. He has a deep appreciation of fashion, with an ear to the ground and an eye to the future — he’s constantly looking for what’s new, what’s unique, and, in a crowded world, can instantly identify what and who stands out for quality and originality.”
Aside from a new editor — Nelson had helmed GQ Style when it was biannual — the magazine will also get its own Web site. It was initially believed that some of Details’ digital staffers, which total about 12, would move to GQ Style’s site, but according to the company, the particulars were still being worked out, as is the launch date for the site.