Friday, March 12, 2010

Refinery 29: A Brave New Online World

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This afternoon I attended Portable Presents Refinery 29, at The Edge in Brisbane, where the founder Philippe van Borries and style director, Piera Gelardi of the site, discussed the future of online retail, the role of social media and the new direction in fashion reporting and business.

Refinery 29 is one of New York's most forward thinking online fashion publication's, it's one part global fashion guide and two parts fashion editorial. With over one million unique visitors each month, the site is no small fry in the fashion world.

Listening to Philippe and Piera was so incredible, the way they dissected their business and carefully explained how they built their site to what it is today was so inspiring for me and has only fuelled me to work harder on Wikifashion.

With only $5000 to launch, they managed to introduce their site to the cream of the New York fashion world, interviewing Alexander Wang in his apartment and partnering with YSL and the Gilt Group.

They have managed to create a unique and dynamic dialogue with consumers and their audience, shaping their content to them and being able to envisage trends. Their out of the box approach to content and editorials have allowed them to forge an important place for themselves among online fashion publications.

They understood the way in which fashion is consumed was changing and designers would no longer have control over their brands if they didn't participate in the online conversation. Part of their success was their championing of independent stores and designers like Alexander Wang and Erin Fetherston, their ability to develop unique relationships allowed Refinery 29 to not only report on fashion but to allow designers to truly communicate and listen to their customers. In short, they created a higher level of personalisation and customisation.

Their discussion of upcoming trends in the online world was fascinating. Content, mobile, crowdsourcing and location based services are the next wave of technologies that brands and publications must come to grips with. It seems that fashion is only getting more fast paced and if you are not adapting you will miss the boat.

One of the most important pieces of advice I have taken from the night came from Philippe, all you need is one idea everyday and risk is more important than experience.

I'd urge anyone who is interested in social media and fashion reporting to snap up a ticket or two for the Sydney or Melbourne events, it's invaluable for brands and communicators alike.

edit: The above photo is actually of Piera and Philippe, it was used on their wedding invitations.


  1. refinery29 is one of my daily stops too! i might have to go grab myself a ticket to their discussion :) thanks for the tip

  2. Just checked their site! Will be following for sure! I wish I could attend their seminar, sounds very inspiring just a little out of my zone... (I'm in Europe)! :) I love your intelligent blog posts Lola! Keep up the great work! xxx

  3. Sounds like a really interesting presentation. As much as I'm a stickler for print media, I love learning about new media technologies (those subjects were definitely my faves at uni).

  4. This sounds like such an interesting presentation, would love to buy myself a ticket to Australia for the event! Are you planning on going to more seminars?

  5. What a great experience. I follow their site regularly and I can't believe what moves they're making.

  6. Hi Lola, thanks for the comment, I will definitely link back to your blog in my next post!
    It was a great discussion, I'm looking forward to similar events at the Edge!

  7. Hi Lola, Thank you for this post.

    I have recently began a mens site and I know first hand that it takes not only luck to succeed but also determination and hard work. I will continue to push my site even further.

    Once again,

    Keep up the great work.


  8. Thanks Lucy! That would be fantastic :)

    Thanks Justin :) Just checked out you blog, I love it- just tweeted from @Wikifashion about it :)

  9. This looks really interesting, I think I may go to the Melbourne event. Thanks for sharing : )

  10. Thank you for the tweet. :)

    And his name is was featured in Brisbane city news this week on page 13. It was a very small blurb but I guess something is better than nothing. Any publicity is good publicity.

  11. Sounds like a great event- love Refinery 29. It's crazy to think how far we've come in terms of technology. Everything is advancing so rapidly that it's best if you're always thinking ahead to the next great idea before someone else beats you to it!

  12. love the pics!

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  13. I love refinery 29. wish i could attend the event, sounds interesting! ;)

  14. very cool presentation indeed. I looooove their site. :D

  15. Refinery 29 is only SO COOL. Also, that woman is SUCH a stunner! Cute blog. :)


  16. Sounds like a wonderful presentation. I'm not in Melbourne or Sydney but hey, if I'm ever in the area it would be something I would look into. Can't wait to see what you do with all this new knowledge :)

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