After months of speculation, Sally Singer, the former Fashion News/Features Director at Vogue, was named Editor-in-Chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine this week.
Notoriously shy, Singer has a reputation for writing captivating cover profiles and relating to the interviewee, and a look into her past reveals that a commitment to her own education and an eclectic upbringing may be to credit.
Raised in Oakland, California, Singer’s fascination with magazines started early, and like many aspiring writers, she never believed it to be a viable career option.
Her mother was a psychologist, her father a mathematician, and her siblings all grew up to be doctors; Singer’s family wasn’t anywhere near fashion or the world of high-society.
Her family moved to Orange County during her high school years, which led to a restless and rebellious streak within her. She admits that her main priority at that point was getting out of Orange County, and having just been introduced to the New Wave Punk scene in LA, she became a club kid.
In addition to her growing interest in the underground club scene, Singer’s fascination with magazines grew.
She studied the mastheads and photographers like every other fashion fanatic, and worked to integrate that knowledge into her life and style.
After getting her GED, Singer moved back up to Northern California and settled in San Francisco while she attended school at Berkeley. Having started school at a young age, Singer was a good deal younger than her classmates and at one point dropped out of University to go to beauty school.
This, while ultimately beneficial to her magazine career, was one of those experiences where Singer realized that she wasn’t very good at it, and she has declared in the past that she’s ‘not into doing things she can’t do well.’
So she went back to the History Department at Berkeley and graduated with an undergraduate degree.
After taking a year off after Berkeley and working for an antique dealer, Singer went on to pursue a Graduate degree in American History and American Studies at Yale.
She found that she became too academic and theoretically minded while at Yale, so she left and moved to New York. After working on the launch of a travel magazine, she took a job at the London Review of Books while working as a waitress on the side.
First working in publishing and later editing, it was here where she developed her eye for writing and talent for maintaining a good relationship with writers, a skill that she would come to use very soon.
After writing a piece for British Vogue about Jay McInerney, Alexandra Shulman, approached Singer about a move to the magazine as Culture Editor. Eve McSweeney, whom Singer would later work with at American Vogue, was leaving her post to move to New York and work with Harper’s Bazaar, and Shulman saw something in Singer that she had not even seen herself.
All of the information that she had accumulated as a magazine-addicted teen was a great advantage for her new position. Singer went on to be Commissioning Editor for Features at British Vogue, before moving back stateside to be Style Director of Elle, Fashion Director of New York, and then in 1999, the Fashion News/Features Director at Vogue.
Her tenure at Vogue was extremely successful. It was there that she developed a good working relationship with Anna Wintour, the messiah of the mainstream New York fashion world, and came out to support and develop the fashion industry and young designers of New York.
She begins her job as Editor-in-Chief of T on July 5th, and if her past work is any indication, it looks like the aesthetically pleasing style magazine is going to get a well written, and well edited, boost.