Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
2 mins read

Allure editor in chief on diversity and how the title became magazine of the year

Michelle Lee is Allure’s Editor in Chief and a pioneer in many aspects of magazine publishing. Her progressive approach has gained plaudits across a wide spectrum and led to Allure being awarded Magazine of the Year by Adweek last Autumn, with Michelle herself being awarded Editor of the Year.

In this week’s Media Voices podcast, Michelle discusses Allure’s ongoing efforts to improve representation in magazine media, how diversity can help heal divisions in society, and opportunities around new media.

Takeaways include:

  • In 28 years, and 327 covers, there had only been two Asian women on the front cover of Allure. This lack of diversity has been consciously addressed by Lee, for example, a recent issue included three Asian models.
  • Diversity has often become mired in tokenism. Allure has made huge strides in broadening its remit but this has been a conscious decision from the top, especially in terms of not falling into ‘the tokenism trap’. Allure is now one of the most racially diverse magazine brands in the US.
  • Success regarding magazine covers has traditionally been based on newsstand sales. Allure has expanded this measure of success to include the social media impact, the wider cultural impact, what digital traffic it generates, etc. You now need to take risks with covers.
  • Allure is doubling down on its focus as a beauty brand, whatever the platform. “We are a brand that represents beauty”. It’s about leveraging the brand but this also includes looking at diversity across every area of beauty and race.
  • There is more work to be done on diversity and inclusion, and this includes being willing to have difficult conversations rather than avoid them. Change is happening and a broadening of what people consider to be beautiful.
  • Advertisers are very receptive to Allure’s stance on diversity and wider cultural inclusion. But there needs to be more education on the nuances of this, especially in terms of tokenism.
  • There are huge opportunities in platforms. In the past few years, Allure has tripled its digital traffic, raised video views by 1500% and its overall reach is now far bigger. But print won’t go away. It’s about having a considered, multi-platform approach.


In the news roundup, the Media Voices gang discuss a potential cash-for-coverage scandal at the London Evening Standard (and what that says about sponsored editorial and trust), Peter gets extremely happy about new investment in Rolling Stone, and Esther discusses the latest news about news at Facebook.