For over 15 years, WWD's Miles Socha was based in Paris — first heading up the publication's bureau in the French capital before being promoted to European editor in 2008. While there, Socha forged relationships with some of the biggest players in the industry, allowing the trade to break major news stories and score interviews with iconic, often press-shy designers. (Full disclosure: I briefly interned at the WWD Paris bureau in 2010, and witnessed Socha receive a personal fax from Karl Lagerfeld himself.)
But in January of this year, Socha returned to New York with some rather large shoes to fill: Upon the departure of Edward Nardoza, who served as editor-in-chief of WWD for 25 years, it was announced that Socha would be taking over the role. "It's a big responsibility and a big privilege to be at the helm of a great brand with a legacy of great journalism for over a century, and also plunging into a new era for media which is digitally driven," he told Fashionista at a cocktail reception in his honor last week. "We've been dubbed 'the Bible of fashion' — that's pretty high praise, and I think we're the benchmark of truth and professionalism in the industry."
Socha takes the reins at a critical time in the industry, not just for WWD but for the fashion industry as a whole. The advent of social media and the rise of digital have sent everyone from publications to designers into something of a tailspin; between "see now, buy now" and major restructuring at publishers like Hearst and Condé Nast, it has never been more crucial for the fashion industry to be imaginative and flexible. Fortunately for Socha, some of that work has already happened at WWD, which reduced its frequency from daily to weekly and has racked up over 50,000 subscribers to its "Digital Daily" newsletter. Socha intends to maintain that balance between the digital and print editions moving forward.
"We're a digital first company now, because we have to be; our print products are an extension of that and a chance to do a deeper dive into topics and a way to deliver our product during peak times," he says. "We just have to be nimble and adapt to a shifting landscape, closely track our readers and be where our readers want us to be to get the information to them on their terms."
One way to serve its readers is to increase its international presence; Socha feels there is a lot of room to expand into Europe and Asia. There's also a younger generation, which grew up on digital and social media, to capture. While some find social media intimidating, Socha is inspired by what it means for the future of fashion. "[It] has made the excitement of fashion, the creativity of fashion and the culture of fashion more accessible for more people," he says. "I think [fashion] has a very bright future because more people can participate in it and have proximity to such a dynamic and creative industry."
But first up for Socha is fashion week, which kicks off just one month after he officially settled into his new home. It will be his first New York Fashion Week in 15 years, and a lot has changed in that time. "Proenza Schouler weren't showing in New York last time I was here," he says. "Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang — there's lots of young talent here in New York, so I'm excited to see them."