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Breaking Boundaries in Fashion: The Edward Enninful Era at British Vogue and What Comes Next

by Veryan Zimber

Edward Enninful, current editor-in-chief of British Vogue, is stepping down from his position after just 6 years. 

Instead, Enninful will move into the role of Editorial Advisor for British Vogue and Global creative and Cultural advisor of Vogue - a newly created role which he will assume in Spring/Summer 2024. 

It was confirmed via a post on the magazine's Instagram account that the March 2024 issue will be his last issue. 

This new ‘promotion’ was apparently born from a conversation he had with Anna Wintour and Roger Lynch, the chief executive officer at Condé Nast, about how he could play a more comprehensive role in broadening the spotlight on Vogue to a

more global scale. 

Enninful has held the coveted title as British Vogue’s editor-in-chief since 2017 and in doing so he has trailblazed the way for change within the fashion industry. 

The first issue under his direction featured the mixed-race British model and feminist activist, Adwoa Aboah, as its cover star. 

While seemingly standard now, this was a clear signal that with him at the helm, fashion and political statements go hand in hand.

He has held many a title at several publications before landing his current role, at the age of just 18 he held the position of fashion director for i-D magazine which made him the youngest ever for an international publication. 

He then became contributing editor at Vogue Italia, working closely with both editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel. 

Having many notable achievements while at Vogue Italia, undoubtedly the most successful was the “Black Issue” which featured only black models including Naomi Campbell, Jordan Dunn and Alek Wek. 

He described it as ending the “white out that dominates the catwalks and magazines”. The issue sold out in the US and UK within 72 hours.

I think for many, the departure of Enninful may have come as a surprise as it almost feels he was only getting started. 

In comparison to those in the position before him, his time is minuscule given took over from Alexandra Shulman who had been in the job for 25 years.

However, the creation of this role allows him to oversee the creative choices in not only British Vogue but also in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. 

Of course, it has always been implied that he was being primed to take over from Wintour when she retires and with this triumphant side step, its fairly evident that he is still the front-runner.

The question that is on everyone’s mind, who will replace him?

The search is said to be underway, although with one big change: the title of editor-in-chief will be leaving with Enninful and they will instead be addressed as ‘head of editorial content’.

The most obvious choice and natural progression for them would be his Deputy Editor, Sarah Harris. 

Her insightful writing suggests that she has the foresight to keep the publication on an upwards trajectory, from a journalism standpoint. 

However, we have to remember that the most recent promotions within Condé Nast to editor-in-chief roles have been stylists and creatives. 

Does this mean that whoever takes the reins will be more of a fashion influencer, than a fashion journalist? 

In this sense we need to consider perhaps Laura Ingham, Deputy Director of Global Fashion Network or one of the two Fashion Directors, Julia Sarr-Jamois or Poppy Kain. 

Although we expect it to be an internal promotion, there is still every chance that they could bring in someone external - and only time will tell.

It’s evident that whoever his successor is they will have big shoes to fill. 

The British Vogue we know now, because of Edward Enninful, is lightyears away from what it used to be; taking the lead in making bold statements that transcend anything any editor before him would have dared even dip their toe in. 

The publication in every sense has to continue to grow, be braver, be more controversial and carry on the fight for inclusivity.

We can only hope that this new chapter will be as historical as The Enninful Era.

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