By Greg Lindsay/WWD Memo Pad
What’s suddenly gotten into Nylon? It appears that founder and editor in chief Marvin Scott Jarrett has started steps two and three in what looks like a master plan to take the consummate fashion magazine for art school students a bit more mainstream.
Step one was a more accessible redesign, now two issues old, by National Magazine Award winner Patrick Mitchell and Andrea Fella. Step two is hiring a new editor in chief, and sources inside and close to the magazine said Jarrett is talking to former Seventeen and YM editor Annemarie Iverson about the position. Discussions are still in the early stages and may fall through, the sources said, but Jarrett is apparently serious about passing editorial control to a strong, name-brand editor fluent in the languages of both fashion and young women. “I can’t comment on Annemarie,” said Jarrett. “There are a lot of exciting things going on at Nylon.” Iverson could not be reached for comment.
Step three is perhaps the most shocking of all: Nylon has begun paying some of its longer-suffering contributors. (Nylon was once sued by its former p.r. firm over non-payment, and Milk Studios once threatened to do the same.) Former freelancers who had long since given up on receiving compensation are suddenly receiving calls from the magazine’s accountant, who is offering only 20 cents on the dollar but is finding takers because that’s 20 cents more than they expected. “He said they were trying to refinance because they owed so much money,” said one former contributor recalling his conversation with Nylon’s accountant. “He said they owe several million dollars — he went into it in detail.”
And the goal of this flurry of changes? The successful completion of Jarrett’s long-rumored endgame: a sale. “If they bring Annemarie in, they’re more likely to sell it to a big company,” said one source close to the magazine. Jarrett declined comment on his intentions.
Several people familiar with both Nylon and Iverson expressed surprise that the latter, who has a very refined personal style, would entertain the idea of editing a cash-strapped magazine devoted to scruffy chic and that’s housed in even scruffier offices. “Last year at Nylon, there were times when they ran out of tissue in the bathroom and had to use back issues,” said one former staffer. “This is a woman with six Birkins!” referring to Iverson’s collection of Hermès Birkin bags.
But there are connections. A pair of former Nylon executive editors — James Servin and Emily Dougherty — worked with Iverson at Harper’s Bazaar at the end of the Liz Tilberis era, and a source close to Grüner + Jahr USA said the company had approached Jarrett several years ago, during then-CEO Dan Brewster’s drive to expand the publisher’s portfolio, and that Iverson had been consulted during the process. (A G+J spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.)
Teaming up could be a win-win for both; Iverson, who’s been keeping a low profile working on custom publishing projects for Hearst since her ouster from Seventeen in 2002, would get to make a splash again, and her presence would make advertisers pay attention again — not to mention everyone else. —Greg Lindsay
(Originally published in Women’s Wear Daily, March, 2004)