The line between content and commerce is blurring. Refinery29, a fashion news and trends site with a local twist, just launched a daily/weekly deal site called Refinery29 Reserve. The deals are for “high-end local fashion,” as CEO Philippe von Borries describes it.
The combination of an editorially-driven media site and a commerce business is a trend that is picking up steam. For instance, last May, guy-site Thrillist bought JackThreads, a flash sales site for men’s clothing and gear.
Funded with only $500,000 in seed capital last February, Refinery is growing fast and already profitable. The 15-person company is on track to quadruple revenues this year to $2 million, with about 85 percent of that coming from advertising and the rest from affiliate sales and events. The daily deals could ad a whole new engine of growth to the niche fashion site.
The first Reserve deal is from New York City designer Steven Alan, who according to Borries is “like a young Tommy Hilfigger or Ralph Lauren.” (I’m sure). People who sign up on Refinery29 Reserve can get a voucher worth $100 at one of Steven Alan’s six New York City boutiques for $50, essentially getting 50% off a $100 purchase. Refinery29 takes a cut of that $50 (typically 35% to 50%), and Steven Alan gets fashionista fanatics (Refinery29′s readers) going to his stores. After only one day, the deal is already three-quarters sold out.
In the next couple of weeks, the site will feature deals from the French Connection and Rag & Bone (which, I guess, is expensive clothes for skinny women). In general, high-end brands avoid the flash-sale sites because they don’t want to dilute their appeal. But Borries thinks Refinery29 can get over that objection because it draws such highly sought-after, fashion-conscious shoppers with its news and editorial coverage.