There are a multitude of fashion news sites on the web that compete to provide up to date news on emerging designers, trends, sales and the hottest stores and boutiques to find collections. Fashion site Refinery29 has an different take on this model; the site hopes to provide hyperlocal fashion news to U.S. cities. Refinery29 has just raised seed funding (the startup declines to name how much, but says it is a “sub $1 million round” (closer to $500,000) from a pool of angel investors, including Ramesh Haridas, Mark Mitchell and Jim Yang.
The site is essentially DailyCandy meets Style.com. Refinery29 offers news on fashion trends, independent designers, beauty secrets, and more. For example, Refinery29 has been offering analysis and coverage of New York Fashion Week, breaking out the hot trends from the various shows. Plus, the site offers advice on where to find the best deals; featuring news of local and online sample sales, and special offers. Refinery29, which currently has a local site for New York fashion, also holds its own “sample sales” in the particular city to feature collections of local designers and boutiques that are marked down by often 50 to 60 percent.
The new funding will be used to expand to other cities; with Refinery launching hyperlocal sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago this year. The site will also be using the funding to launch an e-commerce offering within its site, so Refinery can sell many of the fashion designs that it writes about. There’s a ton of potential in fashion content sites using e-commerce to both monetize and boost offerings; Conde Nast’s Lucky Magazine has a similar strategy.
Patrick Yee, Refinery29’s Business Development chief, tells me that the New York-centric site is seeing one million visits per month (650,000 unique visitors) and and pulled in $1.4 million in revenue in 2009 from events and advertising. Yee himself is no stranger to online shopping sites, his startup Shopflick was acquired by media network Sugar Inc.
Of course, Refinery29 will face competition from a variety of fronts, including from Vogue’s Style.com and other online fashion magazines. From the hyperlocal standpoint, Refinery will compete with city’s local magazine’s fashion coverage. For example, New York Magazine offers detailed coverage of the New York fashion scene; as does San Francisco’s 7X7. But Refinery’s strategy of e-commerce and local shopping events is compelling and could help differentiate the site from its competitors.