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Willa Bennett, Highsnobiety
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Willa Bennett, Highsnobiety

Launched in 2005 as a streetwear blog, Highsnobiety has grown into a global media brand specialising in music, the arts, fashion and culture. Alongside a significant digital presence including ecommerce, it has published a quarterly print magazine since 2010.

Editor-in-chief Willa Bennett joined Highsnobiety in 2022 after a career encompassing legacy magazine brands Seventeen and GQ as well as Bustle Digital Group. She has quickly invigorated the company’s editorial presence, bringing awards including a recent ASME Ellie nomination. She tells us about her week as issue 34 of the magazine is launched.

Portrait: Highsnobiety, Elinor Kry


What are you doing this Monday morning?
I try to arrive in the office an hour before my first Zoom at 8.30am EST. I’m already two coffees and 53ish emails deep. I’m wearing Levi’s jeans and a matching denim jacket. My button-up is vintage Kenzo, and I’ve wrapped a Dior tie around my neck. The Highsnobiety NYC office is in the Financial District—my commute isn’t too long, and I try to enjoy my time on the train. I listen to some music and try to abstain from responding to emails until I get to my desk.


Do you like Mondays?
I have the most energy on Mondays. Highsnobiety’s 34th issue is finally out this week, so there is extra excitement on the team as we prepare to share the issue with the world. Tomorrow, we go live with our Andre 3000 cover, followed by Dries Van Noten the morning of his show, and then end with Pamela Anderson. Editorially, we’ve been fascinated with this idea of relevance and legacy—I’m proud of this issue and the conversations pouring out of every page. 


Describe your work environment
My office is one glass cage—but that’s naturally welcoming. I love talking to people on different teams at Highsnobiety. Behind me hangs an image from my first print cover starring Billie Eilish, next to our Balming Tiger spread, to a portrait of Central Cee shot in London. I spend most of my time in this office.


Before an issue closes, we print out all the pages and go page-by-page to look at edits. We tape the cover options in my office and I ask people to weigh in. We all bring different perspectives to a cover selection. But, honestly a good cover image usually stands out. I usually see it right away—and I trust my incredibly vocal team to challenge me as necessary, too. I couldn’t do any of this without them. 


Which magazine do you first remember?
I’ve always been obsessed with magazines—Teen Vogue, GQ, Esquire, Nylon. When I got to college I started subscribing to Vogue, Vanity Fair, i-D, Daze, The Face. I definitely read Seventeen and Cosmo religiously too. 

It’s cool to be championing a print magazine right now, and an exciting challenge to be tasked with finding new ways to reach young people. I’m proud of how the team continues to reinvent what’s possible with a magazine. The book publishing industry inspires me too. The way they’ve activated social media to engage young people to buy physical books, hang out in bookstores, devour words, and genuinely fall in love with storytelling is so beautiful.


Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I’m rooting for all print magazines. We are all in this together. It’s on us to engage and connect with a generation that lives and breathes their lives online. When I worked at GQ my little sister told me she knew where I worked because of “a Tom Holland YouTube video.” At the time, I was completely devastated—but that same conversation has been a massive motivation throughout my career, especially at Highsnobiety. We shouldn’t just be a fashion magazine. We are a community and a youth culture platform.


The three issue 34 front covers

The magazine has established a strong position linking fashion and culture, and seems to readily attract the best talent for shoots.
We aren’t just interested in chasing celebrities with millions of Instagram followers, but far more interested in building this special universe together.  

You’ve previously worked in a number of more traditional magazine environments—GQ, Seventeen etc. What did you learn there that you bring to Highsnobiety?
I’ve learned so much from every opportunity I’ve had in digital media and fashion. Seventeen taught me the power of digital—we were able to double and triple sales with the right social media strategy and talent curation. And my time at GQ changed my life—I always say I am the leader I am today because of their global editorial director, Will Welch.


What one piece of advice do you have for someone producing their own magazine?
Read magazines! And support their editors. There are so many well-edited publications right now. I went to three stores to find Matthew Whitehouse’s The Face over the weekend. I just renewed my GQ subscription. I learn so much from the visuals of New York magazine and the headlines of The Cut. Gayletter, 032c, HommeGirls are collectibles. And it’s not a magazine per say, but what Rachel Tashijan's been able to do at The Washington Post is so exciting.


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