Thursday, May 26
Ken Downing Builds Out Team at The Tower
Hearst has made another key retail hire as it gears up to launch its luxe e-commerce platform, The Tower.
After revealing that retail veteran Ken Downing would be in charge of the platform in the role of chief brand officer, the media company behind Elle, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar has tapped Mariko Ichikawa as merchandising director, beginning next week, WWD has learned.
Ichikawa, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, spent almost a decade as a womenswear buyer for stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York, before setting up her own kimono line.
Confirming the news, Downing told WWD: “We are incredibly excited to welcome such a talented merchant like Mariko to our team, her vast experience and retail knowledge is a welcome asset as we continue to bring The Tower to fruition.”
The Tower will be made up of four individual stores with one cart, one platform and shared back-end technology from media brands Elle, Bazaar, Town & Country and Esquire. The first store, which will feature designer items selected by Hearst editors, will open this spring, with the remaining three stores launching before the end of next year.
Hearst began dabbling with e-commerce in 2012 with the launch of ShopBazaar and most media companies have been diving deeper into retail over the past few years as traditional advertising revenues continue to tighten, a trend that was only exacerbated by the pandemic.
Many publishers have mainly been operating in affiliate links as a revenue driver, although some have launched their own branded products or collaborated with other brands. While Hearst will continue with affiliate links and shoppable content, growth in its e-commerce business over these past few years led executives to decide to branch out with this luxury marketplace.
Friday, May 20
Promotions at Billboard
Mike Van has been elevated to president of Billboard and Dana Droppo promoted to chief brand officer, it was revealed Friday.
Van, who has held leadership roles at Pandora, Electronic Arts, and Complex, will assume responsibility for all revenue operations and financial performance for the Billboard brand.
Droppo, meanwhile, who is Billboard’s first chief brand officer, was most recently senior vice president of marketing. In her new role she will oversee branded content and client services, analytics, live events, video production and design for the brand.
“We are thrilled to elevate two extremely talented executives, Mike and Dana, into the roles of president and chief brand officer. The spirit of collaboration and teamwork they have helped to build has yielded incredible results and creativity over many years at Billboard. I look forward to their leadership and Billboard’s continued ascent,” said Jay Penske, chairman and chief executive officer of Penske Media.
Van succeeds Julian Holguin, who stepped down as president of Billboard earlier this month after a decade at the company and having been promoted to president in January 2021.
Monday, May 16
Self Has a New Top Editor
Condé Nast has named Rachel Wilkerson Miller editor in chief of Self, taking the reins from Leta Shy who departed after just a year in the top job.
As editor in chief, Wilkerson Miller will be responsible for developing and creating Self’s content across all platforms including digital, video and social, and will report to Anna Wintour, Condé’s chief content officer and global editorial director of Vogue. She starts her new role on May 23.
As for Shy, she is about to join Dotdash Meredith as a senior vice president of beauty and style, working on InStyle, Byrdie, Brides and Shape. Recently, Dotdash Meredith ended InStyle’s 27-year-long print run. Up until that point, InStyle was the last women’s fashion magazine in the U.S. still publishing 12 issues a year, even during 2020 when producing shoots and obtaining items from designers were extremely difficult in certain months.
Of Wilkerson Miller’s appointment, Wintour said: “I am so thrilled that Rachel is joining Self to continue the incredible and important work that the brand is known for. Her passion for bringing informative and inclusive health and wellness content to all audiences, coupled with her experience writing and editing across platforms, makes Rachel a natural fit for this role. I can’t wait to see how the brand expands under her leadership.”
Before joining Vox in 2021, Wilkerson Miller spent two years as deputy editor of Vice.com, overseeing content production for the life desk. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years at BuzzFeed in a variety of roles, most recently as site director of Goodful, BuzzFeed’s health and wellness brand.
“The past two years have made it clear that people need accurate, inclusive, and practical information about health and wellness. At a time when folks are dealing with several concurrent and intertwined crises — the pandemic, climate change, racial injustice, ongoing threats to bodily autonomy, and widespread disinformation — health journalists have an important role to play,” she said. “Self is well-equipped to be a source of clarity and motivation in this moment, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with this team to create content that helps our audience take care of themselves and those around them.”
Monday, May 2
Editorial Changes at Complex
There have been some editorial changes at Complex Networks, acquired by Buzfeed Inc. last summer.
Up first, Aria Hughes has been named editorial creative director, with the company splitting the traditional editor in chief role in two. She’ll be responsible for managing the vertical leads, as well as digital covers and feature ideas.
Since 2019, Hughes has been Complex’s deputy style editor, covering the cross-section of streetwear, fashion and Black culture, with features on why Black brands and designers lack ownership in streetwear and what it’s like to be a Black female image maker. Previously, she spent more than four years at WWD covering men’s fashion.
“Aria has been an integral part of our editorial team as the former style deputy editor. Her editorial savvy and journalistic credibility will be crucial as we continue to develop innovative digital covers and dot-com features,” Donnie Kwak, general manager of Complex Networks, said. “Aria is a natural leader who brings a strong, authoritative POV that will shape the voice of our edit team. I believe she can be a creative visionary for Complex, and this role will give her the space to do so.”
To make up the other side of the traditional editor in chief role, executives are searching for an editorial strategy director, responsible for overseeing the news operation as well as SEO lists, traffic, volume and engagement.
Both these roles will report to Aia Adriano, former director of social, who has been promoted to vice president of content. She has worked at Complex since 2020 and prior to that was a social strategist at MRY.
“As a detail-oriented team player, she is the ideal person to be tasked with developing, articulating, implementing, and overseeing our strategic vision for Complex’s content,” added Kwak. “This includes purview over editorial, social and video/audio. She brings an entrepreneurial approach to expanding our team and our impact.”
This reflects his plan for edit and social to be less siloed and more fluid, with each vertical has an editorial lead, a social lead, and a creator who works collaboratively together.
These changes come after several former employees spoke out about a toxic workplace culture at Complex in 2020. Kwak stated that that was a couple of years ago and since then Complex has “experienced a lot of comings and goings.” He added that the promotions of Hughes and Adriano, both women of color, into leadership roles exemplifies the direction that the brand is going in.
Tuesday, April 26
Essence Ventures’ New Hire
Corey Stokes has a new gig.
The longtime Highsnobiety fashion director and noted stylist has joined Essence Ventures as senior vice president of creative, overseeing the creative direction of not just Essence magazine but Afropunk, Beautycon and all of Essence’s umbrella brands and festivals.
With Stokes’ past editorial work and celebrity clients, executives no doubt want him to elevate the brands’ fashion offerings and he’ll be working with the relevant teams to build a creative strategy for each brand, as well as develop fashion partnerships.
“My first project is Essence and that’s on both the print side and the digital side, as well as the festival,” said Stokes over the phone from New Orleans, where he was on a site visit and sponsor walkthrough for Essence Festival, which is back for the first time since the pandemic began. “I’m excited for the challenge, I’m excited for the opportunity and I’m excited for the growth.”
Of his decision to join the company, the fact that Essence is now completely Black-owned spoke to him the most. “Being a Black man myself who was raised and surrounded by Black women, I always had a bit of a soft spot and love for the Essence brand,” he added. “So to have the opportunity to step into this space and really think how creatively it shows up to the world, it was a no-brainer for me.”
As for his fashion styling and creative consulting agency, he’ll continue to work with clients. He’s styled the likes of Kid Cudi, A$AP Ferg and Michael B. Jordan, as well as having worked with brands such as Hermès, Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
Essence began life in the late 1960s and since 2018 has been owned by entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis, with the parent company being named Essence Ventures. In September, it acquired Beautycon out of foreclosure.
Wednesday, February 2
New appointments at Harper’s Bazaar
Samira Nasr keeps recruiting at Harper’s Bazaar.
Rachel Tashjian is joining Harper’s Bazaar as fashion news director, reporting to both Nasr and executive editor Leah Chernikoff. Tashjian was previously at GQ as their first fashion critic, where she wrote features, profiles, criticism and breaking news around runway fashion, streetstyle and the red carpet. Prior to that she was a deputy editor at Vice, where she oversaw Garage’s digital launch. She also currently runs the invitation-only newsletter Opulent Tips, which focuses on fashion, shopping and general lifestyle topics.
“Rachel is one of the most distinctive and exciting voices in fashion and I’m ecstatic she will be lending it to the pages and platforms of Harper’s Bazaar,” said Nasr.
Tashjian’s appointment marks the latest in a series of new editorial hires at the fashion title: Izzy Grinspan, formerly deputy style director at The Cut, was appointed deputy digital editor in August; Mariah Morrison joined in September as senior social media editor from the digital team for the House Democratic Caucus, where she spearheaded social media campaign; and Rosa Sanchez will come on board as senior news editor on February 14. The latter was previously the news editor at ABC News.
Tuesday, February 1
More changes at WSJ.
More than a year after WSJ.’s last publisher Luke Bahrenburg departed, Dow Jones has named his successor at WSJ., the fashion and luxury-focused insert of the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal.
The new publisher is Omblyne Pelier, who has held various roles at Dow Jones over the past decade, starting in Paris as a sales executive covering the luxury watch sector before moving to London where she oversaw luxury advertising across the EMEA region. Most recently, she was associate publisher of WSJ. Magazine, working with Bahrenburg until he departed at the beginning of last year to join Penske Media business, the publisher of WWD among others, as head of luxury sales.
Kristina O’Neill, editor in chief of WSJ. Magazine, said: “Omblyne has a superb grasp of everything WSJ. stands for and pitch-perfect instincts for how to communicate that to fashion and luxury brands. She’s as graceful as she is wise, and I can’t imagine a more trustworthy partner as we move forward with our many exciting initiatives in the months and years ahead.”
Pelier added: “I am proud to have been a part of WSJ Magazine’s inception in 2008. I feel honored to now take the reins, alongside Kristina O’Neill and lead WSJ. Magazine to its next chapter as its publisher.”
In a memo to staffers, Josh Stinchcomb, chief revenue officer of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Group, noted that in the first half of the financial year 2022, total luxury advertising was up significantly, although he did not provide hard numbers. In 2020, WSJ. reduced its print frequency from 12 issues to eight in 2021 with a renewed focus on digital platforms, as well as holding the first virtual Innovators Awards, its flagship event amid the pandemic. The awards recently returned to an in-person event at MOMA.
Of Pelier’s appointment, Stinchcomb said: “Her appointment will help accelerate the already very promising trends around the WSJ. Magazine franchise and our luxury business overall.”
Monday, January 10
Variety’s new co-editor in chief
Variety announced that Ramin Setoodeh will be promoted to co-editor in chief of Variety in the coming months, working alongside Cynthia Littleton to co-run the newsroom and oversee editorial activities across all Variety platforms.
Littleton was named co-editor in chief of Variety last year, while Setoodeh currently serves as Variety’s executive editor, helping to steer day-to-day operations of the newsroom and spearheading editorial franchises. Before coming to Variety, he spent nine years at Newsweek as both an editor and senior writer. He’s also written for The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal.
“Cynthia is one of the most intelligent and highly-regarded journalists in the industry. She possesses a rare mixture of kindness, deep integrity, professionalism, and killer journalistic instincts. Her world-class business reporting coupled with Ramin’s talent shaping Variety’s key content franchises make them the definition of a power duo. I look forward to seeing them lead the newsroom,” said Jay Penske, chairman and CEO of Penske Media, which also publishes WWD.
The duo will succeed Claudia Eller, who will serve the remainder of her contract until 2022. Eller was previously placed on administrative leave following a Twitter exchange about the lack of diversity in the newsroom, which saw her call journalist Piya Sinha-Roy “bitter.” She returned to the publication in October 2021 after five months.
Changes at Fast Company owner
Mansueto Ventures, the owner of Fast Company and Inc., has named Stephanie Mehta as chief executive officer and the newly created position of chief content officer. Mehta will replace Eric Schurenberg, who has stepped down after 10 years with Mansueto Ventures, as CEO and editor in chief of Inc.
Mehta has served as editor-in-chief of Fast Company since March 2018. She was previously a deputy editor at Vanity Fair, and held senior leadership roles at Bloomberg Media and Fortune.
She said, “I’m excited to work with the entire team to help steer the company and our two storied editorial brands, Inc., and Fast Company, in this fast-changing media landscape.”
Joe Mansueto, founder of Mansueto Ventures, added, “Stephanie’s stewardship of Fast Company these past few years has led to incredibly noteworthy journalism that we all are proud of. Her leadership and collaboration with colleagues have led to significant growth across our live events, podcasts and recognition programs. For these reasons, and many more, I believe she is exceptionally well-positioned to lead Mansueto Ventures.”
A new EIC of Fast Company has not yet been named.
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