Photo Courtesy Ariel Foxman
Interview

ARIEL FOXMAN

12.14.11

Ariel Foxman is the managing editor of InStyle Magazine. He has written for the New Yorker and Details and was the founding editor of Conde Nast’s Cargo Magazine. Ariel oversees all of InStyle’s 18 international editions.

Interview

You have been the managing editor of InStyle Magazine for the past 3 years. What have you contributed to the magazine that gives you the most pride?

Having been able to elevate the overall level of photography and styling without sacrificing the amount of service and information in any given issue. Every month, readers get an equal dose of aspiration and accessibility.

Is there a person you haven’t had on the cover of InStyle that has been requested by readers?

Angelina Jolie; Michelle Obama.

What are some of the more surprising emails you’ve gotten from your audience at InStyle?

I am always pleasantly surprised by how inspired our readers are by the ideas we present in the magazine. They take our advice to heart and then go and do it. We get tons of letters from women showing us how something they’ve read allowed them to amp up their style, whether it be trying some new color combination, attempting a hot makeup trend or whipping up a recipe. The accompanying photos inspire us to be better editors—and remind us that we must always think about the readers and the trust that they have in us and our recommendations.

Aside from spending much of your time on an airplane, what’s the most challenging part of overseeing 17 international editions of the magazine?

Finding the time to plan and execute big-picture initiatives for the brand at large. It’s all too tempting to spend the time responding to the flood of emails and requests, but it’s crucial to factor in macro time among the micro.

Did you for see yourself in this position back when you were working for The New Yorker?

I left The New Yorker to work at InStyle the first go-round (I’ve worked at the magazine twice) specifically because David Remnick advised me to go to a place where I could really spread my wings and learn as much about the business of editing as quickly as possible. I may not have seen the potential, but he sure did.

Having launched and then having had to shutter Cargo, a men’s publication, what do you think is the best medium for men’s fashion?

It really depends. If you’re interested in the trends then niche men’s publications are still the way to go. The thing is, most men could care less about the trends, so if you’re talking about great men’s clothes, you have to find great men’s retailers and find someone you trust there to keep you informed.

Is there room for men’s fashion at InStyle?

Yes, certainly. Our reader has the highest household income of all the readers of our competitive set. She shops. And not just for herself, but for her entire family. We certainly like to make recommendations across the board.

Recently InStyle.com was revamped to be more compatible with the Ipad and have a stronger presence online. Where do you see the future of print magazines in five years? How do you think that will affect InStyle moving forward?

This week we just launched InStyle on all tablets. The future of print is really a discussion about being able to enjoy branded content wherever you want it, whenever you want it. And InStyle is well prepared for that reality.

You are completing your first season as a judge on Project Accessory. Did you ever think you would be on a reality show?

Absolutely not. Though, at the same time, the role of a magazine editor does include being the face of a brand, so it was always in the theoretical realm of possibility. I just never pictured it.

What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve had to give someone?

“That’s ridiculous.” (Said five times in a row.)

What is the best compliment you have given?

“Today you’ve transitioned from being an artist to a designer.”