The fashion media in-crowd’s use of the word “promotion” to describe Edward Enninful’s impending exit as editor in chief of British Vogue, announced last week, seemed odd to me, and obviously a bit contrived. It was clear that Enninful was not being promoted, but instead going freelance in 2024. The move itself manifested a few unspoken realities of how fashion works these days.
First, being a glossy E.I.C., once a fantasy job, now no longer competes with the commercial opportunities afforded to styling ad campaigns and consulting brands. And second, it is now more abundantly clear than ever that Anna Wintour isn’t going anywhere any time soon. After all, the only thing that could have presumably kept Enninful warm in his seat was the promise of one day succeeding her at Vogue, the American masterbrand. And it either wasn’t happening, or not on his timeline.
You can’t blame him for turning the page. Prior to taking over British Vogue in 2017, Enninful was a contract person, meaning that he could style high-paying advertising campaigns and pursue other cash-rich projects with ease. You can’t do that when you’re working for a publisher, which makes money from these brands. (Fashion ethics are permeable, but this is a hard and fast rule—for E.I.C. at least.) More than that, companies like Condé Nast want to own their top talent’s time, even if they no longer pay as handsomely for it.