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Anna Wintour: The Sartorial Entrepreneur

Anna Wintour can teach entrepreneurs how to network effectively. The editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, is a constant staple in celebrity magazine and amongst the glitterati. Her job as the de facto overseer of the fashion industry gives her incredible power both within and outside of the fashion industry. While she is often identified by her position as the head of Vogue, she is also an entrepreneur, crafting a brand that has brought her millions of dollars.

Wintour was the star of the documentary “The September Issue,” which chronicled her quest to produce the largest-ever issue of the iconic fashion magazine in 2007; the documentary was well-received, earning glowing reviews. The film highlighted Wintour’s vast network of business contacts and industry players, and showed the hands-on approach she takes to her business.

Wintour has proven herself time and again an innovator in the fashion industry. She is credited with foreseeing the rise of the celebrity in U.S. culture, putting movie stars and singers on the cover of the magazine long before her rivals. In Vogue’s April issue, a spread in the magazine features NBA superstar Amare Stoudemire, a 6-foot-10-inch behemoth of a man who plays for the New York Knicks. It’s her willingness to push the limits that has helped her maintain her status as the world’s most influential fashionista for decades.

The Wall Street Journal reports that cultivating relationships with talents like Stoudemire – who would otherwise have little to do in the fashion world – has helped Wintour to extend her brand. She personally invited the NBA star to attend a fashion show a few weeks ago, noting that he “looked wonderfully dapper when he turned up.”

“There are people who are like beacons,” Wintour told the newspaper, “and I’m in the fortunate position that I can meet such people.” When Wintour reaches out to a celebrity, she doesn’t base it on controversy or a set of metrics, she asserts. “It’s instinctive,” she says. According to fashion designer Marc Jacobs, that’s how Wintour functions. “Her genius is picking people very astutely, whether in politics, movies, sports or fashion,” Jacobs affirmed.

Though her network is far-reaching, her inner circle is close-knit, her friends aver. Movie executive Harvey Weinstein said that Wintour has helped him broker some huge deals in his career simply by inviting him to parties and sitting him next to friends of hers. “When I wasn’t doing well, Anna would throw a party and put me next to Bernard Arnault,” he asserts.

In return, Weinstein helped Wintour produce a Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel benefit concert for Barack Obama when he was running for president. It’s those kinds of moves that make her a formidable ally, friend and businesswoman, says Weinstein.

Wintour has powerful contacts in politics, with President Obama counted among them. In 2009 when the fashion industry and the economy as a whole was floundering, she met with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, convincing him to allow the city to hold a late night shopping party in the spirit of Parisian “nuits blanches,” a cultural festival that runs throughout the late night into the early morning hours.

“Even a guy like me, who can barely match my tie to my shirt, knows that fashion means dollars to New York City. Besides, behind all Anna’s grace and poise is some pretty tough resolve. She’s not a person you want to say no to,” Bloomberg said.

Wintour’s expansive list of contacts ranges across industries and countries. Any entrepreneur would do well to emulate her ability to network and team with talents in mutually beneficial relationships – all the while looking fashionable.

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One Response to Anna Wintour: The Sartorial Entrepreneur

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