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W Magazine: Inspiring The Cultural Dialogue In Fashion, Film & Art – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief & Lucy Kriz, Publisher, Chief Revenue Officer, W Magazine.

October 26, 2015

“I think that you can really have a lot of things on your desktop or on your mobile phone, in the sense that you collect movies, TV shows, music and images, but the type of collectability that we’re talking about is very different. A magazine is something that lives as a whole and not just as one story. A magazine is about the conceptualization of each image and the way each story relates to the other. It’s a living package, a living organism and it’s not just something that can be taken apart.” Stefano Tonchi

“Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love. When we look at various studies and data about our readers and brand awareness; if they know us, they love us. So, how do we spread the brand love and how do we scale? And that’s been a really fun and exciting challenge for us.” Lucy Kriz

W Jessica Chastain Nov 2015 Cover Collectability in its finest form; Condè Nast’s W Magazine represents the very best in fashion, film, and art and is filled with awe-inspiring images that are often unanticipatedly cutting-edge and always some of the most beautiful photography around.

Stefano Tonchi has been editor-in-chief since spring 2010 and Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer since 2012. The two together are an unbeatable team that has brought the magazine to new heights under their combined leadership. With W experiencing its strongest advertising performance in five years, and being named to Ad Age’s A-List under Lucy’s guiding hand, the magazine is on track with its third consecutive year of growth, in both print and digital revenue, with new positioning to “escape ordinary.”

And with Stefano’s unprecedented direction, the magazine has been a finalist 7 times in the past two years for the prestigious ASME Awards, with two nods in the General Excellence category. And in 2012, Stefano oversaw the publication of W’s first-ever special-edition book, W: The First 40 Years, a photographic celebration of the magazine’s 40th anniversary.

To say the two make an incomparable tandem for success would be an understatement. Recently, I visited with them in their new offices at the 32nd floor of 1 World Trade Center in downtown NYC and I must say the dialogue was open, oftentimes filled with humor, and really delightful. We talked quite a bit about the DNA of W and how Stefano redefined the magazine’s roots without digging them completely up and tossing them onto the weed pile.

A few of the magazine’s achievements with Lucy and Stefano at the helm:

• Print revenue is up +7% in 2015, and up +32% over the past three years since Lucy’s appointment as publisher and chief revenue officer

• Digital business is up +42%

• Ad paging has increased by +15% vs. five years ago

• Total audience (including print, digital, social) is 7 million, with a +17% increase vs. 2014 (according to the MPA 360 July brand report)

• Social media footprint is up +52% vs. last September, with more than 5 million total across social platforms

• Digital edition single copy and subscriptions continue to grow (+9% year over year) (Source: AAM June 2010-2015 statements.)

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with two people whose alphabet always begins with the letter “W” Lucy Kriz, Publisher and Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief, W Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

On whether he thinks W Magazine in its digital format will ever be the collector’s item that the print magazine is (Stefano Tonchi): I don’t think digital can be a collector’s item in that sense. I think that the idea of collecting something is having something tangible and that you can actually possess or have in your hand, so something that’s on a screen and is available to everybody is not really anything that you can collect.

On how the role of editor has evolved through the 40 or so years that he’s been in the magazine business (Stefano Tonchi): This is interesting because a lot of my colleagues would say it used to be pure and now it’s a lot of different things. Maybe it’s because that when I was 15 I started my magazine and I had to go and sell the ads, do the stories, hire and fire; I was playing all the roles, so the job was quite similar and still about making choices and taking responsibilities.

On the nature of the first magazine he created in high school (Stefano Tonchi): The magazine that I was doing when I was in high school was about the records we were listening to at the time, the people we were admiring and nothing has really changed; it was all about the people and the things that defined the times we were living in.

Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer, W magazine.

Lucy Kriz, publisher and chief revenue officer, W magazine.

On how the publisher’s role has changed over the years (Lucy Kriz): It’s definitely changed. Sometimes I think that I became a publisher 10 years too late (Laughs), because it was just easier back then when you could make a phone call, have a meeting, talk about your unique selling proposition and in-book the pages. Now, we have really evolved from sales people to modern-day marketers. And it is a much more involved and strategic approach to partnerships, and I think in a way I didn’t come 10 years too late, I came at exactly the right time because that’s what invigorates me and gets me excited every day. It’s just more involved.

On whether she uses the unique size of W when selling the magazine to clients (Lucy Kriz): : There’s a sea of sameness in media and you can really look across the digital landscape certainly, it’s been commoditized enough, and even in magazines, and you don’t even know what anyone stands for anymore. And W has always been memorable. And so I absolutely use our oversized format and our bold editorial to sell. And to make sure that we’re highlighting that it’s really about the consumer who engages with the magazine because they love our editorial and believe it offers something different.

On whether his five-year journey has been all smooth sailing or he’s experienced some choppy seas along the way (Stefano Tonchi): Every year you have to prove what you can do. It was very hard at the beginning because I didn’t have the full knowledge of the magazine. The DNA of the magazine was very diluted and there was a lot of misunderstanding in what W meant and people were very confused about the magazine.

On how the challenges they’ve faced have redefined the magazine and made it even more successful (Lucy Kriz): Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love.

On whether it’s been a rose garden for her since she began at W (Lucy Kriz): I would say that I’ve never been happier in my life to be out in the market with this product. Is it a rose garden? I would say yes. When I can walk into any one of our partners, certainly in the luxury space, and now Coach’s, we’re one of their biggest partners, because they know that we have a really desirable consumer market, and to be honest, that particular consumer; we have more of them. So, it isn’t a struggle, it’s a joy and we love what we do.

On the nudity in W: We never do anything to provoke just for the sake of provoking. We’re not in the business of scandal; we’re not that kind of publication. What we do is really express the conscience of the time we live in and I think there have been times, especially in the 1990s, with certain kinds of images; W was there first. We worked with photographers who were expressing a sensibility of the moment. We will follow wherever the culture and the social conversation takes us. We’ll cover up if that’s the conversation or we’ll undress if that’s the conversation. We are moved really by the creativity of our contributors.

W Art Drake Nov 2015 Cover On whether any advertiser has ever canceled an ad because of the nudity (Lucy Kriz): Our advertisers are also interesting because the people that we work with want to be on the leading-edge. They come to W for a reason. There are some advertisers who don’t love our content and that’s OK. They can keep their money because there are more advertisers and we have great, great partnerships, who want to be a part of the culture conversation.

On anything else he’d like to add (Stefano Tonchi): I would say quickly, touching on diversity, that’s also part of our DNA too, in terms of how the magazine relates to different cultures and how it also presents many points of view. This is not a magazine that has one vision. I really let my editors express their personalities; I think that’s very important. It’s a magazine that has a lot of personalities and people who come from all over the world, so that’s kind of our way of being really diverse.

On what motivates him to get our bed every morning (Stefano Tonchi): I’m very curious. I think curiosity is the most undervalued quality in people. A new exhibition, seeing what’s in the paper for that day; I’m just very curious about everything. What makes me get up every morning is questioning and discovering all the new things that the day might bring.

On what keeps him up at night (Stefano Tonchi): My kids very often. (Laughs) I don’t necessarily bring home my problems. The last couple of years have been very positive at the magazine. Clearly, I think a lot about how to bring this content to a new generation and how to keep our signature and our content branded, so that people understand that it comes from us, it’s not free, and that there are people who work very hard to make that happen.

On what keeps her up at night (Lucy Kriz): The question that keeps me up at night is how do we be as bold and provocative in digital as we are in print, because we’re not interested in doing what everyone else is doing. And we have a plan in place to do that. We love to foster innovation here at W and we support our teams and it’s an exciting moment for this brand.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Lucy Kriz, Publisher & Stefano Tonchi, Editor-In-Chief, W Magazine.

Samir Husni: As you have mentioned before; W Magazine is a collector’s item with every issue. Do you think you’ll ever reach the stage where digital can be a collector’s item?

W Jane Fonda Cover June July 2015 Stefano Tonchi: I don’t think digital can be a collector’s item in that sense. I think that the idea of collecting something is having something tangible and that you can actually possess or have in your hand, so something that’s on a screen and is available to everybody is not really anything that you can collect.

I think that you can really have a lot of things on your desktop or on your mobile phone, in the sense that you collect movies, TV shows, music and images, but the type of collectability that we’re talking about is very different. A magazine is something that lives as a whole and not just as one story. A magazine is about the conceptualization of each image and the way each story relates to the other. It’s a living package, a living organism and it’s not just something that can be taken apart.

Samir Husni: You’ve been working with magazines for…

Stefano Tonchi: …for almost 40 years, I think. (Laughs) I had my first magazine when I was in high school, that’s when I started my first magazine; it’s my passion.

Samir Husni: How has the job of editor evolved through those years?

Stefano Tonchi: This is interesting because a lot of my colleagues would say it used to be pure and now it’s a lot of different things. Maybe it’s because that when I was 15 I started my magazine and I had to go and sell the ads, do the stories, hire and fire; I was playing all the roles, so the job was quite similar and still about making choices and taking responsibilities.

And you always have to think about your financial responsibilities. I’ve never had a job where I had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted and everything else was taken care of for me. That’s something that I think is still a constant.

On the other hand, clearly it used to be only about editing a magazine on paper and all the people around you were working on paper and you were creating one product and that product was also from you to the readers. They might like it or not and they might write you back, they might come and protest at your door if you were a political magazine (Laughs), but it was still kind of a one-way communication. And it was also one medium and it was once a day, if it was a newspaper, or once a week or once a month. But it was something very specific and it was the final product when it was printed, it was there. You could not change it.

Today, we live in a completely different time. The digital revolution makes your magazine as though never finished basically, because your digital version is evolving continuously. It’s no longer a one-way conversation; it’s at least a two-way conversation. You continuously relate and hear back from your readers. And they want to be part of the magazine. They want to participate. There are magazines now that are just made by the contribution of the readers. I don’t know if that’s the right way or if you can really define it as a magazine, but it is a collection of things written by people.

Samir Husni: What was the nature of your first magazine that you created in high school?

Before he lead W, there was Westuff...

Before he lead W, there was Westuff…

Stefano Tonchi: Technically, I never changed my interest, because it was all about contemporary culture. That moment in time and place growing up in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s; it was about music and music was what we grew up with. I had so many friends who ended up working at Rolling Stone or Musical Express or other magazines of the 1980s.

Clearly, in the 1990s, I moved into the direction of fashion and design and architecture and all those kinds of areas that were probably more right for me at that moment, design in particular.

Recently at W, we’re doing a lot of art, but fashion is our bread and butter, but it’s always in the context of contemporary society. So, the magazine that I was doing when I was in high school was about the records we were listening to at the time, the people we were admiring and nothing has really changed; it was all about the people and the things that defined the times we were living in.

An early byline from Westuff, the magazine he published at age 20.

An early byline from Westuff, the magazine he published at age 20.

Clearly, my point of view was a little bit more provincial than it is now (Laughs), but by age 20, I had interviewed John Galliano and Yohji Yamamoto, people who are still alive and significant. I could still show you my magazine from those days.

Samir Husni: I would love to see them.

Stefano Tonchi: I have a deep love for paper.

Samir Husni: On a side note; I started at age nine and I still have three of my magazines that I created. There was no technology then, of course. When I needed pictures in my magazine, I would bring a candle and drop wax onto the paper and rub it across the surface and then rub the waxed paper on an old newspaper or magazine to lift the pictures. And after 40 or 50 years, they still look great.

Stefano Tonchi: Amazing, isn’t it?

Samir Husni: Lucy, let’s talk a bit now about the changing role of the publisher. I think the main role is still chief revenue officer, revenue, so that’s selling and selling and bringing in the money. Is your job easier or harder today? How have things changed over the years?

W Art first cover Pharrell 2014 Lucy Kriz: It’s definitely changed. Sometimes I think that I became a publisher 10 years too late (Laughs), because it was just easier back then when you could make a phone call, have a meeting, talk about your unique selling proposition and in-book the pages. Now, we have really evolved from sales people to modern-day marketers. And it is a much more involved and strategic approach to partnerships, and I think in a way I didn’t come 10 years too late, I came at exactly the right time because that’s what invigorates me and gets me excited every day. It’s just more involved.

Instead of a more tactical transactional relationship, you’re having conversations about solving real business challenges and coming up with solutions that are much more than run a page in my magazine, right? So, the solution could certainly involve media, but it involves potentially experiential and social; it could involve really measuring a lot of factors, depending on the objectives of the client, it is just a much more in-depth approach.

Stefano Tonchi: It’s a 360° kind of service that you offer.

Lucy Kriz: And what you have to do is really think about who are the right partners; you have to prioritize your time. All of the time/energy resources that you put into every interaction have to mean something. So, you have to make sure that you’re doubling down on the clients who really understand your brand and W has a very specific brand. We’re a bold, provocative, differentiated brand now more than ever and that means something. And the world has come to W in a lot of ways, which we’re benefiting from; this is our third year of consecutive growth, in both print and digital, since I’ve been here, while most in the industry are declining. It’s the fifth year of growth since Stefano has been here. And that’s really important.

So, this brand has had consistent growth across all platforms and also growth in audience and relevance and that’s something that we’re really proud of. We’re the only brand in the competitive set to show print growth in paging and share this year. And obviously, we’re growing exponentially in digital, but the job has changed and it’s changed from when I was a salesperson 15 years ago to publisher, but in a good way. It’s very exciting.

Samir Husni: Literally, W Magazine stands apart from the competition…

W Kristen Stewart Cover Sept 2011 Lucy Kriz: (Laughs) Literally; based on its size.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Based on its size. How do you use the uniqueness of the magazine’s size to your advantage when selling W? Or do you?

Lucy Kriz: When I came here, in a way I always felt like being different, oversized, bold, and provocative; that was our greatest strength, because every consumer and marketer wants to stand out. And our brand position and value proposition is “escape ordinary.” So, what does that mean?

There’s a sea of sameness in media and you can really look across the digital landscape certainly, it’s been commoditized enough, and even in magazines, and you don’t even know what anyone stands for anymore. And W has always been memorable. And so I absolutely use our oversized format and our bold editorial to sell. And to make sure that we’re highlighting that it’s really about the consumer who engages with the magazine because they love our editorial and believe it offers something different. And that audience is so desirable that it’s easy to bring that to a client, so how I then create the package is where the magic happens, right? But absolutely, I take our oversized format and our differentiation to market successfully.

Stefano Tonchi: It starts with the content and I think that we have a very specific point of view that is not only edgy and provocative, but very often it’s really like the insider point of view. Mr. Fairchild (John Fairchild – former editor-in-chief of Women’s Wear Daily and founder of W magazine), was obsessed with being an insider and with being first too. And he really wanted to have a voyeuristic look into the life of the rich and famous, for example his obsession with Jackie O. and the paparazzi and with what she was doing, what she was wearing; how she would keep herself beautiful and where she would go on holiday. And that was his attitude.

And interestingly enough, that is very much the attitude over the Internet, but we’ll go there when it’s time. (Laughs) I think that is really like the social set and the social scene; an insider point of view into that scene is like the core, the DNA of the magazine.

What I think has happened in the last 20 years, after Mr. Fairchild left his position as editor-in-chief of the magazine, is that the visuals also took a very important part of the DNA, especially a provocative type of photography. Fashion photography, portraiture, I think art photography; they all came together to define this brand in a new and different way. And through the 1990s, it really took on a strong personality.

It’s the first magazine where people like Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Mario Sorrenti; like the most important 10 living photographers started their careers in W. Still today, I think it’s a magazine that has a strong recognition in the photography and art communities.

What I’ve done in the five years that I’ve been here is to maybe clarify our stand in the cultural context because sure, there’s always been a lot of art in the magazine, but there was never an art issue in December and two art issues every year and structured in a certain way. The same way we always had; W has a great tradition of covering Hollywood, it’s not that I invented anything, but they did inherit something called the Golden Globe issue that is kind of the opening of the Oscar season. And we made it really like something straight out of the awards. It’s probably our most important business proposition somehow, the Golden Globe Week and our presence.

We really push the Hollywood scene. I hire people like Lynn Hirschberg from The New York Times; I met her, and she has been my partner and is probably the best-known and most respected, for sure one of the most controversial, Hollywood journalists around today. She’s a great writer and has an incredible nose for what’s happening in pop culture today. She came to me and she said, ‘We have to do Kim Kardashian because the world of TV is changing, it’s all about reality TV, most of the programming is going to reality,’ and this was six years ago. I followed her clearly; I took my risk and we were early and everybody else followed.

We became very close with David Fincher and we did Rooney Mara on the cover. My first cover five years ago had Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence on it, two of the hottest actresses of that moment. And last April we had Alicia Vikander, she has seven movies coming out this year. She’s one of the hottest actresses today and we put her on the cover before anyone else.

We can take those risks, because in my mind, we don’t have to sell millions of copies at the newsstand; we’re very specific, but we also know who to put on the cover. We can take risks, but we take the right risks, I would say, and those risks have been paying off. Most of our covers really start conversations or they are of people who people do not know, but they soon discover them in a big way. Or we show people they do know in ways they’ve never seen them before. Take Jessica Chastain in the last cover that we did of her and it received so much exposure. Or the ones of Jane Fonda or the so many surprising women we have featured.

Samir Husni: Has this five-year journey been all smooth sailing or have you had some
choppy seas along the way?

Stefano Tonchi: Every year you have to prove what you can do. It was very hard at the beginning because I didn’t have the full knowledge of the magazine. The DNA of the magazine was very diluted and there was a lot of misunderstanding in what W meant and people were very confused about the magazine. It took a good two years and Lucy arrived at the right time and we have gone through a lot of problems, because when I took this magazine, it was at the lowest possible point it had ever been, so that was a marketing problem, but it was also a positioning and financial problem, just a lot of problems in a lot of areas. I was seduced by the history of the magazine, but it did have problems when I first arrived.

David Granger said something very interesting once, I don’t know if he said it in the interview you did with him too. But he said, ‘Sometimes your past is your worst enemy.’ So, everybody when I took this job at W five years ago could only remember the 1,000-page advertising issue or the great Brad and Angelina issue, they all had those in mind.

Lucy Kriz: The truth is this brand has so much life in it, with consumers and certainly with the industry. Stefano has really hit the ball out of the park over the last few years, just refining that vision and going back to our roots.

Now, that we’re incredibly successful, the challenge is how do we continue to keep this beautiful print product special and continue the growth? I believe we absolutely have runway in print, despite the decline in the overall print market, and we’ll scale digitally. And that’s really what’s exciting for both of us because we’ve achieved such great success in the past five years and there’s so much brand love. When we look at various studies and data about our readers and brand awareness; if they know us, they love us. So, how do we spread the brand love and how do we scale? And that’s been a really fun and exciting challenge for us.

Samir Husni: Lucy, has it been a beautiful rose garden for you, since you came after Stefano?

Lucy Kriz: I would say that I’ve never been happier in my life to be out in the market with this product. Is it a rose garden? I would say yes. When I can walk into any one of our partners, certainly in the luxury space, and now Coach’s, we’re one of their biggest partners, because they know that we have a really desirable consumer market, and to be honest, that particular consumer; we have more of them. So, it isn’t a struggle, it’s a joy and we love what we do. We are one of the only print magazines to really maintain a print audience as well so the audience is not declared in the same way either; certainly digital is leading a lot of audience growth, social in particular. It’s very exciting for us.

It’s interesting as far as spending power; I think we have the number one most affluent consumer and the most influential. When you’re talking about bringing a consumer to a marketing partner who is that desirable; it’s a pretty powerful proposition.

The challenge now is how do we expand on that partnership and bring it into digital and bring it into more of a 360-type relationship.

Stefano Tonchi: The last year has been incredibly interesting from my point of view and I would say that Lucy would probably agree, because we’ve kind of reached a great place when it comes to print. I think we have, I always say, the mothers of mothers; we have a very solid audience of women and some men who love this magazine and they’re very in touch with it. They understand what it is and they want more of it, but W isn’t for everybody, so in that group of audience I think we have them with us.

But suddenly we have exploded on social media; we have exploded with a completely new generation and I ask myself, do they know this is a magazine? What they love are the images. The images and the stories that we tell; they love the way we photograph people and the way we report even from the street, because our editors, especially the young ones, or the ones that are doing the social media, have a point of view. They show things from the main side. It’s never like the obvious. Not your usual picture of a cat or something. It’s always somebody in a provocative pose; there are a lot of celebrities in places and in ways that you don’t expect.

Our audience is 1.4 million in print and 7 million total with print, digital and social. It just exploded on digital. In one year, we’ve reached the top five in our building for Instagram followers. Why, because premium imagery means something, certainly on that front and content is king even on the Internet.

We have that generation that knows and loves paper, that generation of people who have grown up with W and they’ve had the magazine in their families forever. But now suddenly, we also have a new generation that I don’t think necessarily relates to the magazine, they’re really just in love with the images, totally mobile; they get our content on social media. So, our questions are how are we going to monetize that and how are we going to understand this audience and make them basically addicted readers or users, however you want to call them, but in a completely different media.

But the quality and the tone of the content is the same; it’s just delivered in different ways. You customize this content that we know on paper in the way that serves that specific platform. We may have a series of photographs on Instagram; a series of quotes on Twitter; we’ll show videos on Periscope; a mood board on Tumblr, and so on. And who knows what else is coming. We think we know, but Snapchat wasn’t around even two years ago, so who knows what’s next. It’s about customizing our DNA, our history and bringing it into the places where our readers are already, social media, and at the times and in the ways that they want to see it.

Lucy Kriz: And ultimately, this isn’t about reaching everyone even there. We’ve done market sizing and we know that we have a young, affluent audience now, we’re at number one with that and we’re trusted. And so how do we take some of the unexpected risks, taking the bold imagery that we do in print and then scale it across digital, making sure that we’re serving content to the right people, on the right platform. And that’s a fun thing for us to do and with our plans we expect to scale significantly within those target audiences of affluent millennials, culturally connected, those fashion and style enthusiasts.

Samir Husni: Can you ever imagine yourself editing W without the print edition?

Stefano Tonchi: I think that’s something that could happen; that’s like asking a film director if he could see himself directing movies only on Netflix, but why not? I think it has a lot to do with what digital media will offer as a platform. I believe there are a lot of new platforms that will come up. People didn’t think about TV as cable or premium, then suddenly it’s all about premium TV.

Everybody thought that serialization was the way to go, a little bit every week; suddenly we all look at shows, five episodes in a row or the whole season in one night. I think science and technology could really change our proposition, so yes, I can see myself working on digital media. Can I see myself just doing Instagram? That would be hard. (Laughs) But who knows what else digital technology will offer us.

There is so much happening. We’re in the middle of a huge revolution. We don’t even know where we’ll go. And at the same time, hopefully, and I really hope that the magazine on paper will not disappear. I think it will probably become more and more precious and something that we’ll want to hold onto since it offers something very special as an important object like a book.

Even books I think somehow on the one side are disappearing, but on the other side you have all of these photo books and large format-type books that are exploding everywhere. So, you’re living this contradiction of yes, we want to read a quick novel on our Kindle or iPad, on our digital device, but if you want to hold that book, you take an edition that actually has a hard cover and it’s tangible in your hands and actually tells a lot about who you are and your place in society, because it becomes a signifier. It’s very important. What you have on your coffee table is significant.

Samir Husni: Part of the DNA of W is the nudity; with Playboy removing its nudity, is W going to be the last standing magazine to maintain it?

Stefano Tonchi: I think what they’re doing is playing devil’s advocate. They remove it from the print pages and put it all online or something. It’s a bit like playing a game on that.

But we never do anything to provoke just for the sake of provoking. We’re not in the business of scandal; we’re not that kind of publication. What we do is really express the conscience of the time we live in and I think there have been times, especially in the 1990s, with certain kinds of images; W was there first. We worked with photographers who were expressing a sensibility of the moment.

We will follow wherever the culture and the social conversation takes us. We’ll cover up if that’s the conversation or we’ll undress if that’s the conversation. We are moved really by the creativity of our contributors. In the end, I’m very lucky to work with a lot of photographers, writers and stylists who are geniuses in their own right. They’re artists in their own right. And as all artists, they feel things, sometimes even unconsciously, before we rationalize them. Sometimes I see pictures or I see stories that express a feeling of happiness or frustration that is very much the feeling of the moment in a certain cultural environment. I don’t use boundaries when it comes to expression.

Lucy Kriz: There is a lot of creative freedom at W.

Samir Husni: If you look at most of the fashion magazines overseas, nudity is part of the equation. But when it comes to the United States; we are much more conservative. Does that have any impact on advertising? Has any advertiser ever said they were pulling their ad because of the nudity? Recently, Norm Pearlstine at the Folio show told us that 300 people canceled their subscriptions to Cooking Light because it has Michelle Obama on the cover. And that was the first time ever they had an actual person on the cover. And 300 people canceled their subscriptions.

Lucy Kriz: That’s interesting because it’s also about what the audience expects and about whom they are and are they curious and global. You’re talking about who our audience is, right? We’ve always been provocative and our audience is super-curious, they expect to be surprised and delighted.

And our advertisers are also interesting because the people that we work with want to be on the leading-edge. They come to W for a reason. There are some advertisers who don’t love our content and that’s OK. They can keep their money because there are more advertisers and we have great, great partnerships, who want to be a part of the culture conversation. What we did is we always put something in cultural contacts and we did something called “Privacy Settings” recently, which was a shoot with several top models, and it was certainly provocative and it created a cultural moment. And I don’t know many brands or publications that could create that kind of moment and “Nipplegate,” Chrissy Teigen, was a moment. And that was a big deal.

Stefano Tonchi: We started a conversation about whether Instagram should have censorship or not.

Lucy Kriz: This is a big deal in social media, should pictures be censored. Why is it OK for men and not women? I think that we as a brand feel very strongly about freedom of expression and creativity and I know Stefano gives his photographers a lot of elasticity. I don’t want to speak for him, but advertisers that we work with believe that is part of their brand ethos as well and feel very strongly that the consumer this content attracts is that culture creator consumer that is so powerful to them. And to convert that culture creator consumer for their brand is really important.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Flipping through the pages of Westuff

Flipping through the pages of Westuff

Stefano Tonchi: I would say quickly, touching on diversity, that’s also part of our DNA too, in terms of how the magazine relates to different cultures and how it also presents many points of view. This is not a magazine that has one vision. I really let my editors express their personalities; I think that’s very important.

It’s a magazine that has a lot of personalities and people who come from all over the world, so that’s kind of our way of being really diverse. We’re not only different, but really diverse inside our editorial content. It’s not about quota; it’s not about being politically correct; it’s really about an environment of multi-opinions and a magazine that offers a lot of points of view and actually cultivates those types of people with points of view and opinions. It’s never about fitting in; it’s about standing out. And that’s something that I believe in and that we try to do with every issue.

We also want to surprise. One of my missions is to surprise. You cannot just deliver the same package over and over. Diversity and you have to have a certain constant consistency of values, but really every month you have to surprise, every week and every day.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning and say it’s going to be a great day?

Stefano Tonchi: I’m very curious. I think curiosity is the most undervalued quality in people. A new exhibition, seeing what’s in the paper for that day; I’m just very curious about everything. What makes me get up every morning is questioning and discovering all the new things that the day might bring.

Samir Husni: Lucy, what gets you out of bed?

Lucy Kriz: My kids wake me up in the mornings. And I run to work every day. I have to say; I run to work.

Samir Husni: Hopefully, you don’t live in New Jersey. (Laughs)

Lucy Kriz: (Laughs too) No, I live here in the city. And I’ve never been more invigorated by what I do and what’s happening in the industry. We’re meeting these challenges head-on. We want to stay true to our DNA, which is bold and provocative and risk-taking.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Stefano Tonchi: My kids very often. (Laughs) I don’t necessarily bring home my problems. The last couple of years have been very positive at the magazine. Clearly, I think a lot about how to bring this content to a new generation and how to keep our signature and our content branded, so that people understand that it comes from us, it’s not free, and that there are people who work very hard to make that happen.

What worries me is that there is a lot of the younger generation who are used to getting everything for free on their phones or the web. They don’t understand how difficult it actually is to create good journalism, and when I talk about good journalism, I mean great stories and great interviews and great pictures, because to make that actress or that artist do something, you need a relationship, an investment and time and talent; it’s a lot of work to create one of our cover images. There is really a little army of people who work on them. I’m talking about talent, time and passion. It’s not just something that magically happens and then appears on the covers. And it’s perfect.

Samir Husni: Lucy, what keeps you up at night?

Lucy Kriz: The question that keeps me up at night is how do we be as bold and provocative in digital as we are in print, because we’re not interested in doing what everyone else is doing. And we have a plan in place to do that. We love to foster innovation here at W and we support our teams and it’s an exciting moment for this brand. And there is going to be a lot more to come. It’s just a really great time.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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