Will Welch is the editor-in-chief of American GQ, a role he assumed in January 2019 following the end of Jim Nelson ’s 15-year tenure at the helm of the publication. Under Welch’s leadership, the magazine has achieved a more refined and arresting internet presence, along with an uptick in millennial readership.
Initially a writer for independent music magazine Fader, Welch was approached in April 2007 by GQ’s then-Style Editor Adam Rapoport for an associate editor role at the magazine. Welch accepted, going on to become editor-in-chief of GQ Style in 2015 and creative director of GQ in 2018.
In September 2018, Condé Nast announced the appointment of Welch as Jim Nelson’s successor to lead the magazine. In his inaugural letter as editor-in-chief, Welch announced his resolve to “[hone] and [refocus] everything we do here at GQ (not just the print magazine but also our website, videos, and social media) until everything we publish is infused with an undeniable and elevated stylishness.”
The magazine’s February 2018 “music” issue — the first under Welch’s leadership — was a nod to Welch’s own journalistic beginnings, featuring cover star Frank Ocean and style pieces including the likes of John Mayer and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.
Welch’s strategy has, thus far, paid off: according to data supplied by the magazine, the first six months of his editorship saw a 186 percent spike in advertising pages for automobiles, and 141 percent increase in the spirits category. Furthermore, in keeping with his plans for online presence, video-related revenue was up 42 percent year-on-year and social media up 44 percent. GQ’s website also saw an 18 percent increase in visitors aged 21-34 in April 2019.