GQ magazine on Thursday unveiled a rare interview with singer-songwriter Frank Ocean, who’s leading the cover of the magazine’s first issue under its new editor-in-chief, Will Welch. The new leader’s vision for the magazine debuts alongside larger upheavals within the publication’s parent company, magazine giant Condé Nast.
In an editor’s letter accompanying the new issue, Welch hailed Ocean, who also styled the cover shoot, “the best, most boundary-shattering and timeless artist of his generation. Duh.”
Replacing longtime Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson, who left at the end of 2018 after 15 years at the helm, Welch wrote that his vision for the magazine will involve making sure “everything we publish is infused with an undeniable and elevated stylishness.”
“This new iteration of GQ might not be for everyone. But especially in this niche-driven era, if you try to be everything to everyone, you end up not being much of anything to anyone,” Welch wrote. “So we’re making GQ less a big tent and more the only place to go when you want a rich, intelligent, and transportive plunge into all the stylishness the world has to offer.”
Elaborating on his plans for the publication in an interview with The Business of Fashion, Welch explained that he wants to move away from a general focus on men’s lifestyle: less “dictating what’s good and what’s bad from some sort of imaginary mountaintop” and instead “helping to elevate and tell the stories of the people who we think are doing stuff that is really exciting and that is something to believe in, to me that is a higher calling than, ‘Don’t wear those pants, wear these pants,’” he said.
“This idea that GQ has a super clear understanding of the world, understanding of itself and vision of the future and is delivering a very specific, very smart, very fresh thing to an identifiable group of people is much more bankable than like, ‘We’re for men!’” he added.
Welch’s tenure begins amid major shifts within GQ’s parent company, Condé Nast, which also owns Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, among many other long-running magazines.
Late last year, Condé Nast announced that it would cut down Glamour magazine to an online-only publication, among a number of dramatic measures the company has pursued in order to cut costs, due to declines in print magazine sales and advertising revenue.
The company’s CEO was also forced out, and employees have faced several rounds of layoffs.