Jim Nelson Stepping Down as Editor-in-Chief of 'GQ', to Be Succeeded by Will Welch

Welch, who was just named "GQ"'s creative director earlier this year, will take over from Nelson in December.
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Will Welch attends a "GQ" Milan cocktail party during Milan Men's Fashion Week in Jan. 2018. Photo: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Will Welch attends a "GQ" Milan cocktail party during Milan Men's Fashion Week in Jan. 2018. Photo: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Another day, another rush of high-level Condé Nast news coming out of One World Trade Center: On Thursday afternoon, Condé Nast CEO and President Bob Sauerberg announced to staffers that GQ's longtime Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson will soon be stepping down after 15 years in the role. His replacement comes in the form of Will Welch, who, per the announcement, "has been part of the GQ family since 2007."

In 2015, Welch, then the menswear magazine's style editor, became editor-in-chief of GQ Style and led the offshoot publication's transition from a biannual schedule to a quarterly one, as well as oversaw the launch of GQ Style's own website. Welch was also named GQ's creative director earlier this year, replacing Jim Moore after nearly 40 years at the glossy. In his new role, Welch will "oversee all content creation, production and consumer experiences for each of GQ's distribution platforms," according to a statement.

Nelson marks the sixth veteran editor-in-chief to exit Condé Nast in the last year: Graydon Carter from Vanity Fair, Cindi Leive from Glamour, Keija Minor from Brides and both Elaine Welteroth and, by year-end, Phillip Picardi from Teen Vogue. (Of course, the departure of Condé Nast's crown creative and editorial jewel, Vogue's Anna Wintour, has also been rumored for months.) Nelson joined the title first as a senior editor in 1997, later taking the top editorial role in 2003. During Nelson's tenure, GQ was nominated for 64 ASMEs, with multiple wins, for Feature Writing, Reporting, Design and General Excellence. This April, the magazine won its first Pulitzer (in Feature Writing for "A Most American Terrorist," Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah's August 2017 deep dive on Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof).

Condé Nast seems very pleased with Welch's appointment. "Will is the definition of a modern editor," said Sauerberg in a statement. "He has a real command of how to create distinct and powerful content for every platform and understands the importance of inclusivity and authenticity in a brand's voice today."

In 2017 both GQ and GQ Style had a banner year in terms of diversity, featuring the likes of Mahershala Ali, LeBron James, John Boyega and Colin Kaepernick on their covers. It set a high bar that we're excited to see continue under Welch's direction.

Nelson will stay on through this year's Men of the Year Awards in December.

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