How Editor Gabrielle Korn Is Queering the Hell Out of “Nylon” Magazine

"It's so important to have people tell their own stories."

These days, Nylon is going a lot deeper than just young women’s fashion, beauty, and glittery pop culture. In fact, a sampling of its latest content includes stories on queer Brazilian films, an upbeat ruling for transgender students in Oregon, and Planned Parenthood’s plan to open more locations in the South.

Under the guidance of 29-year-old Gabrielle Korn, an out lesbian who lives in Brooklyn with her musician girlfriend, Nylon has become one of the most politically-aware, racially diverse, LGBTQ-inclusive, and feminist-forward digital magazines out there since Korn was appointed editor-in-chief in September 2017 (the same time the outlet’s print edition folded).

of the warmest I've ever been by @edo_photo

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With a game-changing fall website relaunch “that will be huge, chic, and user-friendly” in the works, plus monthly digital “covers” and extensive video content, Korn shared with NewNowNext her vision, who you’ll never see covered by Nylon, and how the age of Trump has changed content strategy.

You were a beauty editor at Refinery29 before joining Nylon in 2014 as a senior editor. How’d you get the gig?

One of the biggest things I did at Refinery29 was help make their beauty vertical more inclusive and diverse through personal essays about minority experiences and using beauty as a window to talk about more important things. Nylon wanted to do something similar, and there was no digital presence. Its website existed to take content from the magazine and put it online, so I was tasked with growing a digital audience and figuring out what the brand meant to the digital universe. We created the first-ever digital editorial calendar, and took it from three stories a day to twenty and went from 200,000 unique monthly visitors to several million.

How did Nylon cover LGBTQ topics before you became editor-in-chief?

In a happens-to be-gay way. For example, Kristen Stewart came out in her cover story in a very vague way—the reporter asked her about these rumors at the time and her answer was, ‘Google me, I’m not hiding,’ which was very much a yes yet wasn’t the point of the story. I want us to be more explicit in our coverage. I want Nylon to be out and proud and prioritize the full LGBTQ spectrum. We had Hayley Kiyoko on June’s Pride cover, which was one of my proudest moments and turned out to be one of the most popular covers of all time. That story was created mostly by queer women, from the photographer to videographers to the writer. I did the same with February’s Black History Month edition. We had an all-black female crew create it. It’s so important to have people tell their own stories.

Our June cover is here! We are so stoked to feature rising pop star and queer icon, @hayleykiyoko, on our first ever Pride issue! “My dream growing up was performing in an arena and having hot girls screaming at me,” she told us. Well, dreams do come true, because today she does just that. But it didn’t come easy. She dealt with relentless elementary school bullies, moments of self-doubt and discovery, and growing pains that everyone can relate to. These days, she’s using her platform to make sure girls like her live their truth unapologetically. “If they can see me flirt with girls on stage, then they can be like, ‘oh, I can do that too, I can get a girl like that, those feelings are normal’.” Link in bio for more on how she’s showing her true colors with pride. photographer: @lindseybyrnes / creative direction: @gabriellekorn / stylist: @mstr_of_disguise / makeup artist: @marlavazquez / hair stylist: @thisisbabe, writer: @autowin / nails: @glamsquad / studio: @fdphotostudio

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Is there anyone you refuse to cover on Nylon?

Chris Brown. I don’t want to give him any press. Until the priority of the media is the safety of women, we can’t make any real progress.

Conversely, whom do you love to feature?

Rihanna. She frequently does hilarious, amazing things just being herself, and that’s fun content. But I also like when we cover [issues like] what’s happening with abortion rights in our country—for me, that conversation needs to be had obsessively.

Politics does seem to be a big part of the Nylon mix today.

I think you can’t not do politics right now. Bringing politics into our content is another big change I made to Nylon. Our readership [demographic] is thirteen to thirty with a sweet spot of twenty-five, and they are really hungry for it. I think we do politics in a way that’s digestible for younger readers, and we cover the issues they care about—women running for office, reproductive rights, gay, and race issues.

How exactly do we stop the rollback of abortion and women’s rights, since both are in serious jeopardy with conservative appointments to the SCOTUS and Trump’s merry band of conservative theocrats?

That’s why it’s so important to keep our readership informed. They’re young women and need to mobilize to vote, be active, protest, and turn out and do actionable things. If we’re part of that movement there’s a point. Fashion and beauty are great, but how are we making the world a better place in a way that’s true to the brand and heritage but has a purpose?

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.
@LawrenceFerber