For over a century, Vogue has served as the fashion industry’s sacred text, catapulting rising talents to sartorial superstardom while simultaneously cementing the legacy of the old guard. The September issue, in particular, has long wielded a special power over the fashion cognoscente: The record 2012 U.S. edition came in at 916 pages (658 of which were ads) and weighed 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms). There was even a documentary. But like many a print magazine, Vogue has been challenged by changing consumer habits, especially lately. The global pandemic, an economic downturn hitting the US$1.5 trillion fashion sector and civil unrest were all casting a long shadow. But publisher Condé Nast found a novel way to send out a much-needed message of optimism to its global audience—and build some buzz in the process.
For the first time in the magazine’s 128-year history, Condé Nast consolidated all 26 editions of Vogue under a single editorial theme: hope. Published in 19 languages with content across print, digital and social platforms, the editions explore hope in all its interpretations, celebrating the industry’s rising talents and some of the most pivotal voices in film, music and activism weighing in on diversity and inclusion, the climate crisis and LGBTQ+ rights, among other topics, including style, of course.
“Hope may be hard to find in a moment of crisis, but it also feels more essential than ever,” said Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of the U.S. edition.
How did Vogue leaders get more than two dozen editorial offices across the globe on the same page? The same way every other virtual team does: detailed scheduling and teamwork.
Each editor-in-chief contributed to a portfolio of reporting, artwork and photography around the theme. Artist Wang Yong paid homage to ancient Chinese history with a work entitled Circle for Vogue China, for example, while the U.S. team recruited Black artists Kerry James Marshall and Jordan Casteel to create portraits (with the only requirement that they choose a dress created by one of four selected designers for their subject to wear). The project even includes a contribution from Vogue Singapore, which launched as the latest edition of Vogue on 23 September. Condé Nast then gave each virtual team the theme and left the offices to create issues that reflected the amalgamation of creative contributions from their respective local lens.
The British Vogue team focused on activism, with a fold-out cover showcasing 20 changemakers, including model Adwoa Aboah and footballer Marcus Rashford. Vogue Arabia emphasized resilience, with one of its two September covers featuring Mila Abouchalbak, a seven-year-old survivor of the port explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.