The April 2015 announcement marking the end of Style.com, at least in its original form, wasn’t entirely unexpected. After all, change had been on the cards for Condé Nast, its parent company, for some time and the site’s reincarnation as a shopping platform, set to launch in 2016, seemed consistent with the publisher’s recent interest and investments in e-commerce.
But the closure of Details six months later signalled that the storied company — perhaps the most significant publishing house in the history of magazines — was in the midst of an extraordinary and wide-ranging transformation.
“Our audience results speak for themselves and prove to me that we are well positioned for future growth and vitality,” wrote Condé Nast president (and incoming chief executive) Bob Sauerberg in a recent note to employees. “I’m looking forward to working with all of you toward making that a reality. Thank you for all of your continued hard work that makes Condé Nast a world-class media company, without peer.”
The note was upbeat, even if it was preceded by the news that one of the company’s magazines was shutting down. It also revealed that GQ Style, a biannual periodical published by Condé Nast’s other men’s magazine brand, would essentially replace Details, adopting a quarterly print schedule and absorbing some of Details’ staff to run GQStyle.com, a new channel on GQ.com that will look and feel like a standalone site. The arrangement was not unlike the one made this summer for Style.com staffers, some of whom were transplanted to the newly created VogueRunway.com, which launched in September 2015, replacing Style.com’s runway coverage.
But the recent changes at Condé Nast go beyond the closure of Details and the shuttering and repositioning of Style.com. The past few weeks have seen several major shifts at the company, from the dismissal of Allure’s founding editor-in-chief Linda Wells to the firing of Condé Nast Traveler publisher Bill Wackermann. Wells and Wackermann were replaced by Nylon editor-in-chief Michelle Lee and T magazine publisher Brendan Monaghan, respectively. It is thought that Lee’s digital experience — and time spent overseeing Nylon’s branded content arm — will be a boon to the beauty-focused Allure, which has fallen behind as YouTube tutorials and beauty bloggers have gained influence. Despite the fact that Traveler’s year-to-date digital revenue has more than doubled, Monaghan’s success with luxury advertisers won him Wackermann’s role.
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