Saturday 17 August 2019

Quinn still determined to help British Vogue stay in fashion

British Vogue's Publishing Director, Stephen Quinn
British Vogue's Publishing Director, Stephen Quinn
Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson

For a man who has spent a quarter of a century as publishing director for one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world you would think that Irishman Stephen Quinn, of British Vogue would be all over the "digital space". This is the world of internet rankings, SEOs ( Search Engine Optimisation) and all the other buzzwords in that complex nexus between traditional print and the web.

However, he says he doesn't care too much for internet rankings, nor does he know a huge amount about them. .

When it comes to "digital land" as he calls it, he said: "I'm teased quite a lot for not being particularly knowledgeable about it, but I have these super clever staff and they're knowledgeable about it."

Having started out in the heady world of advertising in London's Swinging Sixties there is certainly an old school air about Quinn, he of the infamous red socks that have become a sartorial leitmotif.

Quinn must be acutely aware of the mechanics of 'digital land' because Vogue's digital advertising revenue is one of his financial priorities; though for now at least, it will take a back seat to print.

Citing the figures from both print and digital advertising, in which print still comes out on top, he concludes "the profits are still in the magazine. So, as long as I am running Vogue I will champion the magazine with intensity and passion and ferocity and whatever is necessary."

Quinn is a natural charmer, but candid when is comes to business where he has retained an iron grip on one of the most coveted jobs in publishing.

He recently flew into Dublin to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Magazines Ireland, an apt accolade given his illustrious career.

Before Vogue he launched British GQ together with Conde Nast in 1988. Before that he was at Harpers & Queen (now Harpers Bazaar), after helping launch the now defunct Over 21 magazine. Prior to that, he was an accountant. He left south Co Kilkenny at 16 to try his hand in London, like tens of thousands of his generation.

"I used to have to work on the local farms in the summer. I hated it. I didn't hate the people I worked for, they were awfully nice and very warm-hearted and very generous in every way, but I knew that I was destined to move away."

In London he worked in accounting for six years before making the move into advertising.

"Those six years of accountancy had done my head in, as they say now, and therefore although I got into advertising I saw it as playground fun," said Quinn. "It's easy to say I was always conscientious, dedicated, fiercely ambitious. I wasn't anything of the kind. It came later, in some way, it came when you found something you wanted to engage."

That "something" was the world of glossies where he has reigned supreme since .

At 72, surely he has thought about life after Vogue? "I absolutely, unquestionably have another year. I will run Vogue next year, for sure."

A lifetime of achievement it certainly has been for Stephen Quinn, but they could have stalled that award for another few years yet.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business