W Magazine Temporarily Lays Off Staff

W Magazine editor in chief Sara Moonves Photo: Victor Trasvina/Getty Images for WSJ. Magazine Innovators Awards

Luxury suppliers aren’t selling much of anything these days, unless they happen to have bidets in stock. For many fashion magazines that trade in a luxury lifestyle, the global outbreak of COVID-19 and attendant constriction of the economy has meant a moratorium on what for them are the essentials: shoots, print, and extravagant budgets.

The New York Times reports that on Monday W magazine’s editor, Sara Moonves, informed her staff that they were being furloughed. The magazine’s next print issue, once scheduled for May, has been delayed indefinitely. Digital staff have remained on the payroll, but they are being paid less.

Marc Lotenberg, the chief executive of W’s parent company Future Media Group, said on Wednesday evening that the magazine is in “survival” mode. “The bottom has dropped out of the luxury market,” he said, blaming the recession hastened by the novel coronavirus pandemic for the magazine’s financial straits.

That said, the publication was already on shaky ground. Condé Nast sold it to Future Media just last June (in the process kicking off a legal war with former editor Stefano Tonchi.) Lotenberg admitted that payments to vendors have been late since January. Many independent contractors have yet to be paid for their work on W. “Page Six” reported on Wednesday that according to New York Department of Labor Records, Future Media Group, which also owns Surface magazine and Watch Journal magazine (a “luxury timepiece publication”), has recently laid off 17 of its 58 employees.

Some members of the editorial team reportedly hope a buyer will emerge, and Lotenberg has said that “all options are on the table.” However, the appearance of a buyer seems unlikely for all the same reasons the publications is foundering in the first place. Nonetheless, Lotenberg says he believes in the brand.

W Magazine Temporarily Lays Off Staff