It’s a New Era at GQ and Esquire (for Better and for Worse)

Following the reveal of Esquire’s (questionably timed at best, utterly fucking tone-deaf at worst) February cover story about “what it’s like to grow up white, middle class, and male” in 2019, Put This On took a closer look at the two editors tasked with saving America’s largest men’s style imprints, Will Welch at GQ and Jay Fielden at Esquire, and the very different directions each is taking their respective publications.

“Welch and Fielden are trying to save the two biggest titles… but have dramatically different approaches that reflect their contrasting personalities,” writer Derek Guy says.

Welch comes from a music journalism background and has a “sense of openness and optimism [that] defines his editorial work,” the story says. He tends to not shun popular things for being young, and instead leans into a baked-in eclecticism to inform his direction, all of which comes through in his GQ.

Feldman, on the other hands, “is the opposite of that kind of figure,” a person who is unapologetic about basically everything, including an Instagram feed that “looks like a photo collage of.. the sort of high-society life that peaked sometime around the 1960s.”

And in addition to the “expensive vintage cars and rare Rolexes” that Feldman seems to enjoy posting, the story noted a “running theme of frustration with the academic and far left,” a stance the story posits, that could be why “when a senior editor proposed the idea of profiling what it’s like growing up as a white, male conservative in today’s age, Fielden turned it into this month’s cover story.”

So, “GQ, moving forward, will likely be more open-minded and engaged with culture” Guy wrote, while Esquire seems infused with the “politics that reflects Fielden’s frustrations with a changing world.”

“Whether either approach will resonate with enough men to pull up subscription numbers is anyone’s guess.”

You can read more about it at Put this On.

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  • DF_Silverlake

    That being said, the latest issue of GQ was deadfully boring and focused on highlighting one celebrity after another. Letting actors and performers plug their latest work in exchange for a story is a given element in magzines today, but the GQ “music issue” had nothing else. If GQ loses all ambition to cover style, lifestyle, and the “G” in its name I know my remaining time as a subscriber will be short.

    Esquire could have broadened their story to what it’s like for boys in general to grow up in America today. There’s a real social issue there, adding race and class to the mix just muddles the water.

    • The same thing has happened to Interview. It’s basically a printed Instagram feed now.

      • S.O. Crane

        You aint never lie. “Printed Instagram Feed” tm indeed.

    • BrotherVoodoo

      GQ is just a praise piece. It reminds me of reading SLAM back in the day where every issue was about how amazing each player was and nothing else. How stylish. How unique. How effortless. How charitable. BOW DOWN TO YOUR CELEBRITY OVERLORDS.

  • BrotherVoodoo

    God forbid a story about someone who’s not a minority. By the way, while you seemingly think its just a story about a white boy, its a white boy with divorced parents living with a stepdad. His parents divorced when he was 4. As someone with divorced parents who also don’t like each other (one of which is schizophrenic), its not a simple life regardless of if you’re white but whatever fuck esquire for not writing about Transgender athletes or something.

    • Eruc de Mrqz

      That sounds like a much more interesting story that what it’s like to grow up “white.” Surely not all white people have divorced parents, one of whom is schizophrenic. While growing up “white” seems like a totally familiar story, see surveys of minority representation in media, still wildly out of proportion to the percentage certain groups make up of the population (although definitely getting better) something that many could identify with, because we have all been raised in a culture that elevates whiteness, it’s weird to suggest that being white makes someone a victim in a time when other groups rise up.

  • MattZink

    I’m actually an Esquire subscriber; have been enjoying the magazine. I think this month’s cover story is definitely worth covering, but agree that maybe not during Black History Month, and maybe not on the cover. To Esquire’s credit, they keep guys like Charles W. Pierce and Jack Holmes on their pay roll, but they may be featured more prominently on Esquire’s website. I also like their fashion and lifestyle stuff, but I’ll definitely be paying a little closer attention to the editorial choices going forward.

    I’ve half assed been thinking about subscribing to Men’s Journal, which is pretty much just travel, gear, food and exercise. It’s pretty innocuous I think.