Anna Wintour Speaks on VP Cover Controversy, Amazon and Diversity Efforts

Anna Wintour Speaks on VP Cover Controversy, Amazon and Diversity Efforts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Vogue editor Anna Wintour attend the Tom Ford’s Autumn/Winter 2020 show on February 7, 2020 in Hollywood, California. Getty Images.

The editor in chief of American Vogue and Condé Nast’s chief content officer said it was not the magazine’s intention to “in any way, diminish the importance of the Vice President-Elect’s incredible victory,” in an interview with the New York Times released Tuesday. She spoke about Vogue’s latest cover, which generated criticism online in recent days. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris appeared in Converse sneakers and a suit on the image chosen for the print cover, with another image of her in a more formal blue suit appearing on a digital alternative cover. Sources from Harris’s office have told press in recent days that they were disappointed the more formal image wasn’t chosen, and that they were “blindsided” by the decision. 

“There was no formal agreement about what the choice of the cover would be,” Wintour told the NYT in a statement. “And when the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the Vice President-Elect really reflected the moment that we were living in which we are all in the midst — as we still are — of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute. And we felt to reflect this tragic moment in global history, a much less formal picture, something that was very, very accessible and approachable and real, really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign and everything that they are trying to, and I’m sure will, achieve.”

Wintour’s comments came with the release of an interview she recorded with Kara Swisher’s podcast “Sway” before Vogue’s Harris cover was published. They spoke about the cover as well as other recent issues facing Condé Nast and fashion, from employee-led pushes to have a more inclusive workplace to the rise of fast fashion and Amazon.

”I wasn’t listening, or listening enough,” Wintour said in response to a question about an e-mail she sent Vogue staff in June, taking responsibilities for the magazine’s past mistakes, including hurtful images, and acknowledging it has not done enough to “give space to” Black creatives. 

“What one needs to do as a leader is really just hear, listen, and hear, and then act,” she said earlier in the interview about the efforts to make Condé Nast more inclusive. “We’ve made a lot of progress, fruitful progress. And, I just would like to emphasize again that I think that these were conversations that were happening in companies all over the world at that particular point in the summer, and that we have moved to a much better place.”

When asked about Amazon’s influence over the fashion industry — “Is Jeff Bezos, the next Anna Wintour?” — Wintour described Amazon as a distribution system “like electricity.” She praised Amazon Fashion head Christine Beauchamp and said fashion needs to embrace change. “People are seeing new ways to get fashion, or film, or entertainment to people, I think we have to look at that, and understand that, and support it in ways that make sense for us,” Wintour said. 

The editor also emphasized the importance of Vogue’s “role in today’s unbelievably crowded world is to curate and to make sense of everything that’s out there.” She described Vogue as “the biggest influencer of them all.”

Wintour also said she is focused on “what the next chapter is for Condé Nast,” highlighting short- and long-form video as a key revenue opportunity. 

“And as print and more traditional revenue streams decline, we’re very focused on the consumer — whether that’s through paywall, or subscriptions, or membership, or e-commerce, or events, or experiences, or all the things that involve our consumer, that obviously is another area that we are deeply committed to investing in as well.”

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