Vogue just made its first presidential endorsement - here's why

By Robin Givhan

While actress Emma Stone is on the November cover - not Clinton - the word "vote" has been incorporated into a patriotic red, white and blue version of the Vogue logo. Photo / Courtesy of Vogue
While actress Emma Stone is on the November cover - not Clinton - the word "vote" has been incorporated into a patriotic red, white and blue version of the Vogue logo. Photo / Courtesy of Vogue

Vogue has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. This is a first for the New York-based glossy - and a smart move by the so-called fashion bible.

In an unsigned letter posted on the magazine's website and published in the November print edition, the editors explain: "We understand that Clinton has not always been a perfect candidate, yet her fierce intelligence and considerable experience are reflected in policies and positions that are clear, sound, and hopeful."

The endorsement is accompanied by a 1993 Annie Leibovitz portrait of Clinton that, in the Vogue manner, wraps her in a glow so golden that she practically looks gilded.

And while actress Emma Stone is on the November cover - not Clinton - the word "vote" has been incorporated into a patriotic red, white and blue version of the Vogue logo.

For anyone who follows fashion or politics, this endorsement probably comes as no surprise: Anna Wintour, the magazine's editor-in-chief, has been vocal in her support of Clinton, as well as financially generous to her campaign. Indeed, she is co-hosting a fundraiser for her, alongside designer Diane von Furstenberg and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in Washington, DC, on November 3.

But this is the first time that the magazine, as an entity, has endorsed a candidate.

The reason for stepping into the political fray? A representative says it's because of the unique nature of this campaign: It is a spectacle of historic proportion. The country has the potential to elect a woman as president. And the race has been a fraught circus of insults, accusations and falsehoods. The magazine did not want to stand silent.

In speaking to its 1.2 million subscribers, Vogue may well be preaching to the choir, a largely affluent, educated and female readership.

Other fashion magazines are deeply engaged in politics. The politicians who sit down for interviews with Elle or Glamour or Cosmopolitan know it's an opportunity to reach out beyond an audience of political junkies, to get their points across in an environment that is noncombative.

The downside, of course, is that sometimes the resulting stories are so soft-focus that thoughtful criticism and challenging questioning go missing. But it's better that they are having an overly polite conversation than none at all.

Newspapers have a long history of endorsing candidates but with information coming from all directions, can one newspaper endorsement truly tip the scale?

The endorsement in Vogue, however, is much more like an opinion shared at the meeting of an exclusive club. The audience is not broad; on some level, its readers have bought into the Vogue point of view, the Vogue lifestyle, the Vogue message. So perhaps the magazine's endorsement will serve as a reminder to its faithful to go out and do what they know is right.

Vogue lends an air of glamour and panache to whatever appears in its pages. So perhaps it can put a bit of the shine back on the act of voting at a time when so many see their choices as one of two evils.

Vogue does not speak for the entire American fashion industry, but it has outsize influence.

Its endorsement reflects the many ways this multibillion-dollar industry has supported Clinton - whether in fundraising, merchandise design or social messaging.

- Washington Post

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