What Samira Nasr’s nomination means for Harper’s Bazaar and fashion magazines

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NEW YORK, United States – Samira Nasr is the next editor-in-chief of the U.S. edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, overseeing both print and digital from July 6. She succeeds Glenda Bailey, who stepped down from Hearst’s title in January after 19 years in the role.

Originally from Montreal, Nasr is currently Executive Director of Fashion at Vanity Fair and spent her decades-long career as a stylist and editor working in and around fashion magazines in New York City.

Nasr’s appointment also marks the first time a black editor will lead Harper’s Bazaar, the oldest continuously published fashion magazine in the country, a milestone in an industry where there is little to no diversity at the highest levels of leadership.

As Black Lives Matter protests have escalated across the United States and Europe in recent days, current and former minority media workers have taken to social media to share their experiences of discrimination and inequality. in the workplace, highlighting the lack of editors and various managers at Raffinerie29, Paper magazine, Condé Nast and Hearst, among others.

In his recent role at Vanity Fair Under the leadership of editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, Nasr was part of a renaissance of a title that highlights a much more diverse list of contributors than what is typically seen in mainstream magazines.

“As the proud daughter of a Lebanese father and Trinidadian mother, my worldview is broad and rooted in the belief that representation matters,” Nasr said in a video announcing her appointment. “My goal is colorful by nature and therefore it is important for me to start a new chapter in Bazaarof history by highlighting all the people who I believe are the inspiring voices of our time. I will work to give all voices a platform to tell stories that would never have been told. “

I will work to give all voices a platform to tell stories that would never have been told.

Nasr thanked the Black Lives Matter protesters and said she hoped “we can join forces to amplify the message of equality.”

The stylist will likely bring a very different approach to Harper’s Bazaar than its predecessor, adding the website to its area of ​​responsibility and placing more emphasis on politics and current affairs. Bailey’s tenure, which focused on print only while Bazaar.com was run by Executive Editorial Director Joyann King, was defined by high-production celebrity cover shoots often featuring the most popular dresses. more elaborate of the season and a smooth and shiny overall sophistication. Bailey had strong relationships with advertisers and managed the magazine with a small team and tight budgets.

Nasr, who is also beloved by advertisers and has a reputation for being a cool girl – she creates shows for independent New York brands including Rachel Comey and Adam Lippes – worked to change the way fashion is typically portrayed in glossy magazines. In his time at Vanity Fair, she dressed Janelle Monáe in a vibrant pleated Pyer Moss dress, Selma Blair in Celine skinny pants and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates in her own Brooks Brothers costume.

“I’m so happy at this point in history to see this role return to a woman of color,” wrote Vanity Fair‘s Jones on Instagram. “We are a small club, but growing.”

His mandate at Harper’s Bazaar will likely involve creating content that reaches a new and younger audience without losing too much of its pre-existing audience. The average age of its print reader is 42, according to its 2019 media kit, with an average family income of $ 248,320 and an average net worth of $ 1.6 million, making it one of the groups richest audience in the written press.

The May issue of Harper’s Bazaar | Source: courtesy

However, Nasr is joining the brand at a particularly difficult time for print magazines which, amid the pandemic and its economic fallout and an increasingly volatile geopolitical situation, are struggling to be relevant.

Harper’s Bazaar is led on the revenue side by publisher Carol Smith, who has had a long career at Hearst and spearheaded the launch of ShopBazaar, the magazine’s online shopping arm, in 2011.

Bazaar.com, which will continue to be run by King, focuses on celebrity culture and entertainment at a younger age and is known for its regal coverage. His correspondent on the royal family, Omid Scobie, has close ties to representatives of Meghan Markle and has announced news of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

On paper, Harper’s BazaarThe circulation of 760,000 copies is lower than that of other mainstream fashion magazines. Newsstand sales have declined in recent years, as they have been across the magazine industry as a whole, down 67% since 2009, while circulation has increased slightly over the same period.

But whatever its estimated range, Bazaar faces the same challenge as its competitors: it still depends on advertising, not subscriptions, to generate the majority of its revenue. And in the wake of the pandemic, brands have further reduced the advertising budgets that magazine publishers depend on.

A recent report by digital marketing agency Digital Luxury Group showed that luxury brands have cut spending by 30-80%. In recent months, fashion magazines have also had to use new tools like Zoom and computer-generated images to create images and editorials during the lockdown. As a result, many titles have reduced the number of printed issues that they plan to produce this year.

“It’s an exciting challenge to be able to re-imagine what a fashion magazine can be like in today’s world,” Nasr said in the announcement video. “Good style isn’t just about the way we wear our clothes. It is also how we see and occupy space in the world around us.

Good style isn’t just about the way we wear our clothes. It is also how we see and occupy space in the world around us.

Nasr is part of a new generation of magazine editors who face the daunting task of replacing a predecessor with generally smaller budgets, increased control, and more pressure to attract young readers with cover and contributors. more diverse and values ​​a political point of view.

Many of these new editors are stylists like Nasr, signaling the importance of powerful and globally resonating images to a magazine’s success in the digital age. Other examples include the British Vogue‘s Edward Enninful (also the black editor of this title) and usernameis Alastair McKimm.

Nasr started his fashion career as an intern at Mirabelle before heading to Vogue as assistant to Grace Coddington then Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion writer. After a stint as a freelance stylist, she held the position of style director at In the style before returning to Hearst She in 2013, where she was fashion director until she left for Vanity Fair in 2018.

Hearst has seen a change of guard in recent years, especially after President Troy Young was appointed to lead the entire division, not just digital properties, in 2018 with chief content officer Kate Lewis, to whom Nasr will report. New editors, often experienced in digital, have been appointed to She, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Squire since 2015.

“Samira’s prominent voice will continue to evolve the brand’s distinct position as a style touchstone for the discerning of fashion,” Young said in a statement.

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