Time Inc. New York

The rumor mill is churning at Time Inc. under new leadership in the fashion group.

With business-side leadership set under Ron King, senior vice president of fashion, multicultural and shelter; and Kevin Martinez, vice president and group sales director of InStyle and StyleWatch, there’s buzz that the executives are rethinking the handful of fashion and beauty-centric properties.

One such property is The InStyle Collection, which includes InStyle, Mimi, xoJane, xoVain and The Outfit. Initially formed by Evelyn Webster, the executive vice president, who was let go in a recent shuffle, the group would allow the business side to show scale in order to sell advertising. But the conglomeration of sites was a bit confusing to the market. The same is said to hold true on the editorial side. When the network was formed earlier this year, InStyle editorial director Ariel Foxman, who resigned this summer, was put in charge. In the months that followed, the group had been searching for a digital director to steer the digital ship. That hire never materialized.

Now, with new InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown at the helm, there are questions of whether she will lead the group or if it will be dismantled. Sources told WWD that there have been talks of breaking up the group and that Jane Pratt, who sold xoJane and xoVain to Time Inc. in 2015, will be part of a shake-up. Pratt, who joined Time Inc. amid the acquisition, has been rumored to be interested in buying back the sites.

Time Inc. declined to comment on Pratt, but offered: “The InStyle Collection is not going away and that includes xoJane/xoVain.”

Either way, Time Inc. is looking to increase its digital presence in fashion and across all of its titles.

Another element of the equation is the positioning of InStyle to the marketplace. Brown, the former executive editor of Harper’s Bazaar, brings a fashion cachet to the title that it arguably didn’t have before. Under Foxman, InStyle spoke less to the fashionista and more to the average woman with an interest in fashion. In February, Foxman underscored the importance of “service” journalism when he unveiled the redesign of the magazine.

While there’s no indication that InStyle is going to go after the Bazaars and Vogues, the business side is said to be booking meetings with luxury clients. Whether InStyle goes more upscale or not, there’s also buzz about StyleWatch, the red-headed stepchild of InStyle and People. Once known as People StyleWatch, the glossy has a strong emphasis on shopping and celebrity. Then there was a shift; Time Inc. downplayed the word “People” from the title and the magazine became a sort of downmarket InStyle, focusing on red carpet looks and celebrity fashions.

While Time Inc. has yet to make any (new) decisions about the publication, which is run by editor in chief Lisa Arbetter, it wouldn’t be surprising if leadership from InStyle decided to tweak the glossy’s mission. And, if all else fails, they can always target female Millennials — or better still, Gen Z.