The cover of Vogue Italia this month features a message: “No photoshoot production was required for the making of this issue.”
The fashion magazine will not include its usual photo spreads in the January issue, in a nod to the need to take action to save the environment, according to a note published online Wednesday from Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti.
“In the global debate on sustainability... there is one aspect that is particularly dear to me: intellectual honesty. In our case, this means admitting that there is a significant environmental impact associated with publishing a fashion magazine,” Farneti wrote.
The editor listed out some of what was involved in producing photo shoots for a single issue in September: Around 20 flights, a dozen train rides, 40 cars on standby, 60 international shipments, more than 10 hours of lighting, food waste from catering, plastic to wrap clothes, and more.
To avoid some of these environmentally damaging outputs, the January issue instead features seven cover illustrations by different artists, all of real models wearing Gucci. The covers and features in the issue were created without travel or clothing shipments, per Farneti.
This is the first-ever illustrated cover for Vogue Italia and, to the best of the editor’s knowledge, no Vogue issue “since the existence of photography” has been printed without photos.
Money saved from not producing photo shoots in this issue will go to Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a historic house and museum in Venice that was damaged in the floods in November. Amid the devastatingly high waters, Venice’s mayor blamed climate change for the highest tide the city had seen in over 50 years.
In the letter to readers, Vogue Italia’s editor pointed to a mission statement signed by the editors in chief of all 26 Vogue editions last month, pledging a commitment to “values of diversity, responsibility and respect for individuals, communities and for our natural environment.”
It’s worth noting that Vogue Italia drew significant backlash in 2018 for featuring model Gigi Hadid in what many interpreted as blackface. (Hadid and Conde Nast International issued apologies, with the company saying the “vision” for the photo was a “stylized bronzing effect.”)
Farneti acknowledged that having a single issue without photo production was not a long-term solution to climate issues, and the magazine will return to its normal production routine on Friday. But he called the January issue “a small but concrete gesture” toward sustainability, and noted Conde Nast Italia will now on only use compostable plastic to wrap its magazines.
“I think that the most honest way to face a problem is starting by admitting it,” Farneti told The New York Times. “That was our way to say that we know we are part of a business that is far from being sustainable.”