Now, as a young buck straight out of college, I had this notion — no matter how grandiose it may seem in retrospect — I would be a journalist of epic proportions. I would change my readership’s fusty notions of what was fashionable, what was great music and what was the next hot thing. After realizing way too quickly perhaps that my unorthodox way of delivering my musings were more suited for the creative writing fare, I spent sometime not rocking the boat as a journalist, then ditched the dreams all together. (And, yes, a few in flux novels later, I revert back to my unrequited first love: writing to the masses.)
With that all written, no one can say that shaping the world’s mind about fashion, music, and culture in general is not possible. I honestly believe that Emil Wilbekin is one of the most influential and underrated masterminds in the publishing industry there is. Seems everything he touches turns golden.
Wilbekin, the former Editor-in-Chief of Vibe magazine, in my opinion, single-handedly made the publication a fashion bible, taking what was deemed only suitable for urban appeal and making it a household name and resource guide! During Wilbekin’s tenure, this was the first time the publication saw ads from the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Some called it the watering-down of a gritty hip hop publication but I call it a lucrative, business-savvy, creative, and a smart move.
Wilbekin also took Giant magazine into the same stratosphere during his tenure there as its Editor-in-Chief. And formerly the VP of Brand Development for mega-brand Marc Ecko, I am sure he had a lot do with its progression into a more sleek and sophisticated urban brand as well.
It has been recently announced that Wilbekin will now be Managing Editor of Essence.com and I am so proud of him! I reached out to him way back when and he was more than kind to me, giving me some really sound advice. They say Essence.com is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing and popular web-based magazines and I am sure he will take into even greater heights.
File under my mentor!