Jason Gonzalves is one of the brave bunch who decided to revive an iconic brand. He is responsible for the comeback of The Face, a British music, fashion and culture publication that ruled the newsstands from 1980 to 2004, and relaunched in April 2019 in an online format by Wasted Talent.

“It’s always really lovely when you hear [personal stories about The Face], the warmth and affection from people who remember it. And people who weren’t really old enough to remember it the first time around, but have found old copies or archives. Just touching,” Gonzalves said about the magazine’s recent renaissance.

He also chatted with AList about other things, like the phenomenon of “the feed culture,” the difficulties of repositioning a brand, his decision to leave an agency career and more.

How did you make a decision to leave the agency you built to recreateThe Face?

The truth is, I ended up at an advertising agency because I couldn’t get a job at The Face. I was a graduate who decided to please my Asian parents. I got [a] science [degree] when I wanted to be a fashion journalist and write for The Face. I came out of university with a degree in quantum physics and realized I was never going to be a scientist. I wanted to do something creative. And I was like, “All right, I’m going to end up in the agency world.” Weirdly, the fact  that advertising was always my second choice, it was a really brilliant driving force for my career. I never wanted to make ads. I wanted to make things that were about culture. I brought that mindset to my career in advertising, It was a deep sense that I was going to try and do the closest thing that I could do to achieve my dream, and do it in the world of advertising. And that has been a big part of why I’ve been able to do so much [effective work] over the years. In truth, it’s like my destiny fulfilled.

I was the chief strategy officer and led BBH for 10 years. I tried to see if it was possible for BBH to buy The Face. My partner now, Dan Flower, [and I] looked to see if we could buy The Face through BBH because I feel like advertising needs to earn its right to take people’s attention. So many agencies say, “We create culture.” But they don’t, really. If you could take a publishing spirit and have a really strategic point of view about marketing, that is something really powerful.

When I heard that Wasted Talent bought The Face, I went back to that plan and said to [Wasted Talent CEO] Jerry [Perkins], “Look. I think I’ve got a good idea about how a publisher needs to operate right now, how it needs to show up in the digital world and how to make money out of it. And I’ve got [the] strong point of view about how The Face needs to work and I’d like to come and do that for you.” It was middle-aged wish fulfillment. It was a creative person’s dream come true for me. But also, I feel like I’ve developed this point of view about where the world is going, what audiences want and what probably advertisers want.

One of my clients for many years was The Guardian newspaper. I think what The Guardian‘s doing, and what The New York Times is doing in the world of news, is so important right now. I feel some of that zeal, that sense of purpose, should be brought to the areas of style, culture and music journalism. Some of that sense of purpose and the role that those things have in culture can be a galvanizing force in the world. That’s especially true for a generation of young people who are hugely motivated, critically creative, questioning, socially aware, politically active, but  also want to party, want to look great, want to discover new types of culture—those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I think there’s a really exciting place to bring some of that sense of purpose and mission to the world of style and culture.

What are the beginning efforts of bringing the magazine back to life? How did you decide that you were going to use the old logo?

The big question that me and Dan Flower, the managing director, talked about before a single person was spoken to was, “Why does it need to exist? Why should it come back?” We have a lot of affection for it. I grew up [with] my eyes opened to a world of creativity through The Face, but [that was in the ’80s]. There were hardly any magazines on the newspaper rack. The newspapers really didn’t cover culture in the way they do now. There was very little in the way of television, certainly no internet.

We also spent a lot of time asking ourselves, “Does this need to exist and why?” And for us, [we feel culture] has become absolutely and utterly dominated by what we call “the feed culture.” The Facebook algorithm, the [chronology]. The whole way the social web works, you have to feed it, you have to keep giving it to people. And [when you think about audiences] you think about traffic through the feed.

What I think that means [is] that you’ve got a group over here who are all white, a group over here who are liberals, you’ve got a group over here interested in fashion, and [none of those little bubbles communicate with each other]. We thought, “That’s really interesting, but it feels like at a human level that’s not what people really want.” And The Face was always something that was incredibly multifaceted. It would talk about music, it would talk about entertainment, about sports, it would talk about political issues. And we thought, “Wow! That’s really exciting.”

In 1980, when it launched, Britain was in really fucked up place It had [a terrible economic meltdown in 1976]. There where worker strikes. There was rioting. There was racial tension. There was a government that was trying to destroy society, and [culture] is something that connects all of these themes and expresses it through music and attitude, look and identity. And that’s called style. Not style as a “this is what you wear” and “this is what you buy,” which is what it has become. Style is about attitude. I want a magazine that does that and that’s what The Face is doing. We just felt [that] almost 40 years later [it was] so much a mirror image of that time. We want to tap into some of that spirit, that sense of purpose and start a new conversation around style. A conversation around style that is positive and not just about consumption, it’s about how you express yourself. It is about identity. It’s about belonging. It is about unity.

And then we thought that if we could deliver it in a way that felt like it tapped into human needs, if there was a real sense of purpose there, that could galvanize it. What we also think is missing is  a commitment to journalism in a contemporary way, asking the questions that matter. There is also a sense of positivity that is missing right now.

Also, repositioning a brand is like archaeology. You’re finding things, fragments, hidden in the history and heritage of the brand, uncovering them, dusting them off. And then you find a way to combine them in a completely new and fresh way. And to put them together but do that in a way that doesn’t just hark back to the past, but is a springboard to something new. And that’s what we wanted to do. Take the foundation and use all the things that weren’t available to the amazing journalists who were at The Face [at the time] to create a new expression of the original spirt. Today’s version is more dynamic with more voices, using video and engaging with the audience in interactive ways.

We liked the idea of keeping the masthead. We just felt like it was an incredibly simple, striking and iconic foundation. We wanted to respect the past in our fonts We wanted to pay a nod of respect to the foundations that were laid by the people who’d come before us. Incredible people, like Nick Logan, the founding editor, and Sheryl Garratt, probably the best editor that The Face ever had. Incredible designers, like Neville Brody and so many brilliant journalists and image-makers.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them but every one of those people would have said to us, “Don’t go back. Go forward.” Interestingly, one of the toughest things to think about, in terms of design refresh, was use of the typography. Because what Neville did was so iconic. What  we designed was a nod to that. It was our way to take it forward.

We thought long and hard about how we’d do that. Who could we hire, who’s the new Neville Brody? The person we are most excited about working with in the world was Mirko Borsche, who runs a design studio called Bureau Borsche in Munich. We like his craft ethics, the range of his work, his point of view, culture and his punk ethic. And we started working with him.

You have a quantum physics degree so you’re at least a little bit analytical. How did you organize the relaunch on paper?

There were lots of moments where we thought we can’t write anything down. The old guard wouldn’t have written anything down. We wanted it to arrive organically. [Part of the evolution] was to keep questioning. Always asking not just what’s cool or what’s interesting, [but why has it got style]? Why does it matter? We are joining the dots between all the different parts of culture. Overall, it feels more like a movement than a magazine.

We were very focused on trying to get something out, and do it quickly. Basically, there was one person employed last year before Christmas and we went from that, to having a product that was out in the world in April. That involved hiring a team, staffing up, finding an office, building a website, designing, writing stories, philosophy, commercial deals and operations. We did all of that in about four months.

At advertising agencies, you spend so long planning that a lot of the magic is lost. And all that lightning in the bottle comes from that creative leap that happens in the moment. At agencies, the layers of process and approval and second-guessing a client who’s second-guessing their boss and all the rounds of approvals—that kills that magic. It’s rare that magic in a bottle gets any better over time. When you’ve got no time at all, that’s when amazing things happen. And when you’ve got people who operate in that way, it’s amazing.

Did you look at other publishers and what they were doing with brands and advertising? Have you been looking at that as you’ve been creating The Face‘s value proposition and partnering with brands?

We’ve looked at [ideas and strategies and actually spent many years at agencies looking at publishers and trying to understand what they’re doing well, and what they’re not]. One of the really fascinating learnings was seeing how the record industry fucked up. Which is business 101, isn’t it? An example of how not to drive off a cliff. The record industry got itself into trouble because it believed it was in the industry of making records. It believed it was a mass industrialized business, churning out pieces of vinyl. In reality, the high-value proposition was always about this magical relationship between artists and fans. The records happened to be one of the conduits, and so they were really focused on how they could commercialize an object. [It was a record and then it was a CD]. But the really high-value proposition was the incredible relationship. And in a way, publishing did that, too.

Publishing is the means, the medium, for creating a relationship between creative people and audiences. Both are connecting audiences to what’s happening in culture. And I think for me, that’s the proposition. What we do is create value in cultural relevance. Some of that comes through our own publishing and some of that we monetize through advertising. For us, that looks less like conventional ads and more about co-creating with brands. But right now, that’s what we’re about [having an incredible operation that understands cultural relevance], and then thinking about different ways to turn that into brand value. Over time we see ourselves developing our own products, our own life experiences and our own IP, and becoming a go-to production house for commissioning from the big platforms.

Do you think that the UK publishing is uniquely capable of sustaining a comeback of this sort?

Comebacks are always hard. One of our massive advantages is this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection].” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Michele want to have the Gucci brand associated with it.

But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So we don’t have all the problems of transforming an infrastructure and all the pain that comes with that. We can take this incredible brand, and with a completely blank piece of paper, build a business that’s right, right now. That is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who want to be part of it, that [speaks to the fact] that some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands.

More than ever young people especially look at brands like that as an extension of themselves as well.

That’s an incredibly smart thing to say. They think about brands in an incredibly fluid way. It’s a generational thing to think about brands like that. It’s actually a very postmodern thought that a brand isn’t really just a descriptor of a product. It is actually about [an idea, a set of ideas or a set of values]. It’s a point of view of the world. How that is expressed can be quite fluid. I think the audience is very comfortable with that. I’ve heard a few [old school publishers] going, “Oh, e-comm. That feels like you’re de-valuing the editorial.” I think that’s quite an old-fashioned way of thinking about it. A brand that is about culture and thinks about how to create something interesting in the retail space is a different form of storytelling.

A lot of the really interesting publishers right now are actually e-comm businesses, for example, Farfetch. They’re basically an e-comm platform but they really [are] publishers. As long as you approach these things with integrity and a point of view rather than thinking about it as a platform (which is really only about the technology and scaling), then I think you can succeed. Of course, you have to scale, but you have to have integrity [while doing it]. You’ve got to have value. You’ve got to have a product and you need to create a voice. It’s an incredibly exciting time.

“It’s always really lovely when you hear [personal stories about The Face], the warmth and affection from people who remember it. And people who weren’t really old enough to remember it the first time around, but have found old copies or archives. Just touching,” Gonzalves said about the magazine’s recent renaissance.

He also chatted with AList about other things, like the phenomenon of “the feed culture,” the difficulties of repositioning a brand, his decision to leave an agency career and more.

How did you make a decision to leave an agency career that you’d built to re-create The Face?

TThe truth is, I ended up at an advertising agency because I couldn’t get a job at The Face.I was a graduate who had decided to please my Asian parents that I would get [a] science [degree] when I wanted to be a fashion journalist and write for The Face. I came out with my degree in quantum physics and realized I was never going to be a scientist. I wanted to do something creative. And I was like, “All right, I’m going to end up in the agency world.” Weirdly, the fact that in a way, advertising was always my second choice, it was a really brilliant driving force for my career in advertising. I never wanted to make ads. I wanted to make things that were about culture. That brought to my career in advertising a deep sense that I was going to try and do the closest thing that I could do to my dream in the world of advertising. And that has stood me very well and probably has been a big part of why I’ve been able to do so much [effective work] over the years. In truth, it’s like my destiny fulfilled. I’ve tried to get agencies like BBH and McGarryBowen to do work that is reflective of culture, that talks to the culture, engages people in the way that art and entertainment does. I’ve always done that. 

I was the chief strategy officer and led the BBH for 10 years, I tried to see if it was possible for BBH to buy The Face. My partner now, Dan Flower, [and I] looked to see if we could buy The Face through BBH because I feel like advertising needs to earn its right to take people’s attention. So many agencies say that: “We create culture.” But they don’t really. If you could take a publishing spirit and fold and have a really strategic point of view about marketing, that was something really powerful. 

When I heard that Wasted Talent had bought The Face, I went back to that plan and said to [Wasted Talent CEO] Jerry [Perkins], “Look. I think I’ve got a good idea about how a publisher needs to operate right now and how it needs to show up in the digital world; and how to make money out of it. And I’ve got [the] strong point of view about how The Face needs to work and I’d like to come and do that for you.” It was middle-aged wish fulfillment. It was a creative person’s dream come true for me. But also, I feel like I’ve developed this point of view about where the world is going. What audiences want and what probably advertisers want. 

One of my clients for many years was The Guardian newspaper, and I think what The Guardian‘s doing, what The New York Times is doing in the world of news, is so important right now. I feel some of that zeal, that sense of purpose should be brought to the areas of style and culture, and music journalism. Some of that sense of purpose and the role that those things have in culture to be a galvanizing force in the world for a generation of young people who are hugely motivated, critically creative, questioning, socially aware, politically active, but actually also want to party, want to look great, want to discover new types of culture—those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I think there’s a really exciting place to bring some of that sense of purpose and mission to the world of style and culture.

What are the beginning efforts of bringing the magazine back to life? How did you decide that you were going to use the old logo?

The big question that me and Dan Flower, the managing director, talked about a lot before a single person was spoken to was: “Why does it need to exist? Why should it come back?” Because, actually, yes, we have a lot of affection for it. I grew up [with] my eyes opened to the whole world of creativity through The Face, but [that was in the ’80s]. There were hardly any magazines on the newspaper rack. The newspapers really didn’t cover culture in the way they do now. There was very little in the way of television, certainly no internet. 

We also spent a lot of time asking ourselves, “Does this need to exist? Why does it need to exist?” And for us, what we felt was so important is right now culture has become absolutely and utterly dominated by what we call “the feed culture.” The Facebook algorithm, the [chronology]. The whole way the social web works, you have to feed it, you have to keep giving it to people. And [when you think about audiences] you think about traffic through the feed.

I feel what that all means [is] that you’ve got a group over here who are all white, a group over here who are liberals, you’ve got a group over here with the fashion, and [none of those little bubbles communicate with each other]. They’re all in these tiny little bubbles and we just thought, “That’s really interesting but it feels like at a human level that’s not what people really want.” And The Face was always something that was incredibly multifaceted. It would talk about music, it would talk about entertainment, about sports, it would talk about political issues. And we thought, “Wow! That’s really, really exciting.”

In 1980, when it launched, Britain was in really fucked up place It had [a terrible economic meltdown in 1976]. There was striking. There was rioting. There was racial tension. There was a government that was trying to destroy society, and [culture] is something that connects all of these themes and expresses it through music and attitude, look and identity. And he called it style. He said, “Style. I call that style.” Not style as a “this is what you wear” and “this is what you buy,” which is what it has become–a very commoditized sense of style. He said, “Style is about attitude, and attitude and bands have style and themes have style and I’m going to talk about that. I want a magazine that does that and that’s what The Face is doing.” We just felt [that] almost 40 years later [it was] so much a mirror image of that time. If we can tap into some of that spirit, that sense of purpose and say, “Right now we need a new conversation around style. A conversation around style that is positive. It is all-encompassing. It’s not just about consumption, it’s about how you express yourself. It is about identity. It’s about belonging. It is about the descent. It is about unity.” We just thought that was really rather exciting. And then if we could deliver it in a way that felt like it tapped into some human needs, there was a real sense of purpose there that could galvanize it. So that was something that we got fired out [about] and we went, “Hang on a second. It’s amazing looking at all the publishers around. There are so many wonderful magazines. But we think there’s a sense of purpose and an underlying sense of that [it] won’t expire in the world that’s missing. And a commitment to journalism in a contemporary way asking the questions that matter. Asking who are you? And a sense of positivity that is missing right now. When I say them out loud, they sound like simple things, but we just feel that there’s a real role for that. Some of the responses we’re getting from audiences which have been absolutely overwhelming is backing it up. And in many ways, some of those notes, like any great brand, any brand at a time when you’re repositioning a brand what you’re always doing is sometimes, it’s like archaeology: you’re finding things, fragments, hidden in the history and heritage of the brand, uncovering them, dusting them off. And then you find the way to combine them in a completely new and fresh way. And to put them together but do that in a way that doesn’t just hark back to the past but is a springboard to something new. And that’s what we try to do. Take those little notes and then try and use all the things that weren’t available to the amazing journalists who were at The Face to create a new expression of that. Something that was much more open. That was able to be more dynamic, that was able to see people, hear voices, use video, engage with the audience in interactive ways. That felt really, really exciting. So our trick was always really to do something that felt like it was true to the absolute essential soul of The Face. This provocative, more progressive, muscular optimism of The Face but felt like it took it forward. We liked the idea of keeping the masthead. It’s such an iconic masthead. It’s funny, you really think about things like Supreme and you actually think about that masthead was way before all of that kind of stuff. We just felt like it was an incredibly simple, striking, iconic foundation to nod and respect the past in our fonts and the way that we did that. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that. We wanted to pay a nod of respect to the foundations that were laid by the people who’d come before us. Incredible people, like Nick Logan, the founding editor, and Sheryl Garratt, probably the best editor that The Face ever had. Incredible designers, like Neville Brody and so many brilliant journalists and image-makers. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them but every one of those people would have said to us, “Don’t go back. Go forward.” So we wanted to nod to that and then take it forward. Interestingly, one of the toughest things to think about what you refresh is the design, use of the typography. Because what Neville did was so iconic. What we’ve designed and what we wanted to do was have a nod to that. Our respect to taking it forward. And we thought long and hard about how we’d do that. Who could we hire and who’s the new Neville Brody and should it be Neville himself? And I think again we just felt all of that generation were an iconoclast. They would respect us for trying to take it forward. And we looked for someone who we thought we would want to work with who had really exciting takeaway things. The person we are most excited about working with in the world, was Mirko Borsche, who runs a design studio, called Bureau Borsche in Munich. And we’ve had some correspondence. We spoke to him. We actually loved what he was doing. The craft ethics, the range of his work, his point of view and culture and his punk ethic that went through, this brilliant irreverence that he had, which is what he is just so great. And we started working with him. We were working impossible timelines that most people would have thought [were] completely crazy. Mirko just laughed. And he’s just like, “Yeah bring it on.” I love him. I love his studio work and like what looks like an apartment in Munich. And they all work around the kitchen table and it’s just really how we felt about ourselves. They weren’t these big egos. They were just great, talented people who wanted to get together and put their egos to one side and just do something great together. Our [brilliant young art director], Alex O’Brien, was like, “I think these are the guys,” and we backed him and it worked brilliantly. What they came back with is they said, “From a typography point of view, we should take the look, start with some of the original Brody-type faces but evolve them,” and that’s what we’ve done is taken those and created a new set of fonts that basically are based on [Neville’s work in the past], it’s just taken forward. Trying to think about your iconic design system that is ordered and considered but feels like it has a dynamism and agility to it that feels like it’s going to really come alive when it starts to move. Animation and video, all of those things were big thoughts for us about how we take it forward. And interestingly, the thing that we absolutely said from the start, we said we wanted to start in the digital world and build up to the magazine. Because that would really enable us to test how we’re going to take this thing forward and so we did that first of all. And we were just incredibly excited. I had this thought about how not to think of it as a site, but think about the entire “Face” experience, as a series of conversations almost. And therefore, how could we bring that audio, the conversation and the sound of the human voice into the entire digital experience of The Face. From people going, “Do you need podcasts?” it could be audio notes or little fragments of soundtracks or performances or arguments, or interviews. So weaving that into our whole digital experience. And that was an interesting part of thinking about the design and the way that we wanted to express The Face. That really has helped to liberate us.

You have a quantum physics degree do you’re at least a little bit analytical. How did you organize it on paper? Was it a stream of consciousness kind of organization?

There were lots of moments where we thought we can’t write anything down. The old guard wouldn’t have written anything down. We can’t write anything down. It’s just got to arrive. [I’ve heard from somebody] who’s quite comfortable flipping it from the analytical to the instinctive, but I think because what we needed to do is get a lot of people very quickly pointing in the same direction. And not just writers, but designers, developers, commercial people and brands. We wanted co-design a little bit. And we just got something very, very simple. We said, “We think we want to create a new conversation around style and we express that.” We went very simple. Incredibly simple manifesto and it just says there are two or three things that we want to do. Which is, we said we were going to create this new conversation of style. We want to base it around always asking why. Keep questioning. Always asking not just what’s cool or what’s interesting, [but why has it got style]? Why does it matter? We are joining the dots between all the different parts of culture: from sports and entertainment to politics and fashion. Being irreverent, positive and fun which is in the world of style is something that’s gone. And feeling more like a movement than a magazine.

[We played with it,] we wrote into it and we discussed it. And we kicked that around and shaped that bit together and people got excited by it and adding to it and it just felt really powerful. And timely. So many fashion brands at the moment struggling to understand how to be relevant because they’re struggling with issues like race, equality and sustainability. It feels like all of their headaches are actually a great opportunity for people like us who can create that conversation and dialogue between consumers and creators. So we brought that and in a way, we had the luxury of no time. And when you have the luxury of no time you don’t spend that much time worrying about being perfect. You are very focused on trying to get something out. But basically, there was one person employed last year before Christmas and we went from that to having a product that was out in the world in April, hiring a team, staffing up, finding an office, building a website, designing, writing stories, philosophy, commercial deals, operations. Doing all of that in just probably about four months.

At advertising agencies, you spend so long that actually a lot of the drawing, the magic is lost. And all that lightning in the bottle comes from that creative leap and that moment, where you’re sparking off something in the culture that you feel instinctively gets ground down by layers of process and approval and second-guessing a client who’s second-guessing their boss and then the next round of stakeholders and more approvals and more amendments that over time actually rarely does the magic in the bottle get any better over time. When you’ve got no time at all, it’s amazing what happens. And when you’ve got people who operate in that way, it’s amazing. Isn’t it amazing how many times, [you have a story? You think you’ve got it down and then for whatever reason you’ve got to bend that story. In the moment of adversity, you make something happen and there’s a fall back plan that you’ve uncovered something that’s absolutely genius]. It’s that magic, that spontaneity and it’s just so powerful. I find it so exciting. Years of having creators telling me how awful it is that they don’t have time, and I’m like, “Wow. We created an entire brand from scratch in four months.” It’s crazy what you can do. And really inspiring. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to operate at this kind of speed. But ultimately, the reasoning works at this pace and because I’m not second-guessing somebody else’s decision. We have great creative people and they make calls. And we used to say when talking about clients saying to us, “We want lower costs, and we want higher quality but lower costs.” The cost is in the control. If you can allow the creative people to be in control, you can do extraordinary things at a completely different economy. It’s the endless list of stakeholders that is going to drive up costs and time and decrease quality.

Did you look at other publishers and what they were doing with brands and advertising? Have you been looking at that as you’ve been creating The Face‘s value proposition and partnering with brands?

We’ve looked at [ideas and strategies and actually spent many of those years looking at publishers and trying to understand what they’re doing well, and what they’re not]. One of the really fascinating learnings was seeing how the record industry fucked up. Which is Business Case 101, isn’t it? For how to learn how to make sure that you don’t drive off a cliff. The record industry got itself into trouble because it believed it was in the industry of making records. It was a mass industrialized business, churning out pieces of vinyl, whereas actually, the high-value proposition was always about this magical relationship between artists and fans. And that was really exciting. The records happened to be one of the conduits there and so they were really focused on how they could commercialize an object. [It was a record and then it was a CD]. But the really high-value proposition was the incredible relationship. And in a way, publishing did it like that. Publishing is the means, the medium, for creating a relationship between creative people and audiences. Both are connecting audiences to what’s happening in culture. Cultural relevance. And I think for me that’s the proposition. What we do is create value in cultural relevance. Some of that comes through our own publishing and some of that we monetize through advertising of different sorts. Probably things that look less like conventional ads and more like us co-creating with brands. But at the time, it’s actually what we’re about [ having an incredible operation that understands cultural relevance], and then thinking about different ways to turn that into brand value. [Sometimes brands] like e-comm are doing interesting things with experience and are operating increasingly like an agency. But increasingly over time developing our own products, our own life experiences, our own IP. Becoming a go-to production house for commissioning from the big platforms. And actually trying to think about a more evolved model, which is basically built around this incredible relationship that we saw and really [are] understanding the culture. In the long term, we should absolutely be able to create products that are designed to be relevant and useful and desirable from the start because we just understand the culture.

Do you think that the UK publishing is uniquely capable of sustaining a comeback of this sort? 

Comebacks are always hard. One of the massive advantages we’ve got is we’ve got this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection.]” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Alessandro Michele want to have Gucci brand associated with it. Virgil Abloh who’s obviously a phenomenon at the moment, what he’s doing with Vuitton… What he represents right now, but he’s doing an interview with our (31:29). What’s so exciting is the power of the brand. But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So all the problems that encumbered tasks of transforming an infrastructure, all the pain that comes with that–we don’t have. We can build. We can take this incredible brand and with a completely blank piece of paper build a business that’s right, right now. And that is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who are cottoning on to that–that actually some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands. They’re cottoning on to the fact that you can do that. And look at whatComplexhas done. It’s really interesting. It’s fascinating what Complexhasdone. And the publishers’ live events and products. That’s fascinating. This is just the start of where this could go.

Comebacks are always hard. One of the massive advantages we’ve got is we’ve got this incredible brand. For example, Alessandro Michele, the creative director at Gucci, called us up and said, “I want to do a collection and [I want to incorporate The Face into my collection.]” His pre-fall ’19 collection has 20 pieces from The Face, using The Face logo in the collection. That’s because of the strength of the brand. It’s so powerful even after 16 years of being away that people like Alessandro Michele want to have Gucci brand associated with it. Virgil Abloh who’s obviously a phenomenon at the moment, what he’s doing with Vuitton… What he represents right now, but he’s doing an interview with our (31:29). What’s so exciting is the power of the brand. But the brand has no legacy infrastructure. [It] hasn’t existed for 16 years. So all the problems that encumbered tasks of transforming an infrastructure, all the pain that comes with that–we don’t have. We can build. We can take this incredible brand and with a completely blank piece of paper build a business that’s right, right now. And that is a unique opportunity. If you can do that and there are people who are cottoning on to that–that actually some of these incredible magazines are just incredible culture brands. They’re cottoning on to the fact that you can do that. And look at whatComplexhas done. It’s really interesting. It’s fascinating what Complexhasdone. And the publishers’ live events and products. That’s fascinating. This is just the start of where this could go. 

More than ever young people especially look at brands like that as an extension of themselves as well.

That’s an incredibly smart thing to say. They think about brands in an incredibly fluid way. It’s a generational thing to think about brands like they have been very rooted in categories. But it’s much [easier] for a younger generation. It’s actually a very post-modern thought that a brand isn’t really just a descriptor of a product. It is actually about [an idea, a set of ideas or a set of values]. A point of view of the world. How that is expressed can be quite fluid. I think the audience is very comfortable with that. In fact, I find it exciting. I’ve heard a few [old school publishers] going, “Oh, e-comm. That feels like you’re de-valuing the editorial.” I think that’s quite an old-fashioned way of thinking about it. A brand that is about culture trying to think about how to create something interesting in the retail space is a different form of storytelling. A lot of the really interesting publishers right now are actually e-comm businesses and you get someone [like] Farfetch. They’re really interesting–they’re basically e-comm platforms but really [are] publishers. I just think that’s a really interesting way the world’s going. As long as you approach these things with integrity and a point of view rather than with just a very different mentality to the logic of platforms, which is just thinking about technology, scaling. It’s all about the idea of scaling and of course, you have to scale but you have to have integrity. You got to have value. You got to have a product, to create a voice and you can do that. It’s an incredibly exciting time.