MAXIM’S SURPRISE: After weeks of industry speculation about who would be named Maxim magazine’s new editor in chief, WWD has learned the job will go to Kate Lanphear, who is jumping to the title from her current role as style director at T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

This story first appeared in the September 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Lanphear, who was poached by the Times in early 2013, had been style director at Elle magazine for several years, where she became a recognizable street style star.

The move is a major shift by Maxim’s new owner, Sardar Biglari — the multimillionaire who made his fortune with the national Steak ‘n Shake restaurant chain — to make the magazine profitable. The struggling men’s monthly was purchased by Biglari, of Biglari Holdings, this past February but has continued to see a steady decline. In the first half of the year, Maxim had the biggest dip among men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine newsstand sales, falling 33 percent in single-copy newsstand sales to 99,632, according to figures from the Alliance for Audited Media.

Lanphear didn’t give too much away about her strategy for the magazine, simply telling WWD that, “I hope to cultivate and broaden Maxim’s coverage of style and culture. It’s an exciting time for this boldly confident, unapologetic brand.”

Hiring Lanphear, best known for her high-fashion styling capabilities in the women’s designer world, may come as a surprise to many. Maxim, after all, was part of the “lad mag” wave of titles imported from Britain in the Nineties and, like them, became synonymous with publishing women in sexy, bare-it-all editorials under past editors Keith Blanchard, Joe Levy and the recently resigned Dan Bova. But the magazine’s September cover featuring Jessica Alba with a more refined feel (albeit one that had her clad in a bikini with a “come hither” look) is a small hint of what’s to come, said a Maxim spokeswoman.

Lanphear’s first official issue will be March. She will work in conjunction with Paul Martinez, Maxim’s current creative director, and is expected to begin building the rest of her team soon.

Maxim currently publishes 15 international editions and is sold in 70 countries worldwide.

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