Karlie Kloss, the supermodel, entrepreneur, investor, and former Scooter Braun client, is in talks to buy i-D magazine from Vice Media, I’ve been told. I know little about the terms of the deal, only that it would make Kloss the proprietor of the U.K.-based culture and fashion publication, which was acquired by Vice in 2012, and probably remains most famous as the launching pad for a former teenage fashion director named Edward Enninful. The stylist Alastair Mckimm would stay on as editor-in-chief, I hear, which bodes well for the talented people working over there.
This is not Kloss’s first dip into media: She previously led a consortium of investors—including movie producer Jason Blum, Kaia Gerber, the fashionable race car driver Lewis Hamilton, and Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green—who partnered with Bustle Digital Group to buy W magazine in 2020 from Marc Lotenberg, whose Twitter (er, X) profile reads, “Business, with a side of controversy.” Cool guy.
Kloss appears to be doing the i-D deal solo, although it’s too early to know whether there will be any sort of agreement with Bustle to sell advertising, like there is with W. (Remember, i-D is based in the U.K. and has its own commercial team in place.) However, I’ve heard that the W-BDG deal has been good for BDG, attracting luxury advertisers that it wouldn’t otherwise be able to pull in, and that advertisers like working with BDG because the group is digital-first and doesn’t require so much investment in the print product specifically. (Legacy publishers often force advertisers to spend a certain amount of money on print specifically.)
A Kloss acquisition seems like a logical (and excellent, really) end point for a fashion glossy—into the arms of a wealthy benefactor who probably just wants it to do great work, eke out some profit one day, and presumably act as a useful tool for personal tax consequences. There was no doubting i-D would get scooped up in the Vice fallout: Fashion magazines in the U.K. are more efficiently run, and, like Interview and W in the U.S., they remain somewhat culturally relevant. (If you haven’t read my former BoF colleague Osman Ahmed’s interview with Raf Simons, Matthieu Blazy, and Pieter Mulier from i-D’s Spring 2023 issue, please do. It’s my favorite fashion piece from this year by far.)
However, it’s interesting that Kloss, who has been investing for more than a decade, sees an opportunity, whether it’s to make real money or preserve a bit of culture. I’d love to learn more about her investment philosophy; her portfolio includes Coterie diapers, the personal styling app Wishi, and the group chat tool Geneva. Yes, yes, her husband is Thrive Capital’s Joshua Kushner, but let’s not give him any undeserved credit here. (Also, for the record… Kloss was the first major talent to scoot away from Scooter Braun, when his longtime deputy Penni Thow—Kloss’s manager—left the agency to launch Copper circa 2020.)
Anyway, I digress. Kloss’s acquisition of i-D leaves Vice, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is now moving out of Williamsburg, with one less property to worry about amid its restructuring. Will Refinery29 be the next to go? I’ve heard through the grapevine that co-founders Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries (who are both at Red Ventures) were in early talks to potentially buy back the once-influential company, but nothing materialized. I couldn’t get this confirmed by Vice.
Regardless, it seems that while Vice is willing to let go of i-D and the luxury advertisers that come with it, Refinery29 still has an outsize value in the portfolio on account of its female audience. Whether or not Vice can restore it back to its former glory… let’s just say that Kloss feels like a better steward for i-D than Vice has been for Refinery.