Refinery29 Australia tries a new take on fashion and lifestyle news

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In North America and Europe, Refinery29 is a publication where under-represented women can be seen and heard. Now it is trying to become one of the most progressive media for women in Australia.

It will not be without fierce competition. Well-established publications like Australian women’s weekly and Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar, PopSugar Australia, 9Honey, the women’s lifestyle arm of Mamamia and Nine Entertainment Co, have had years to make their mark. But editor-in-chief Zahra Campbell-Avenell is convinced that the publication, founded in New York City over 15 years ago, has something different to offer Australian women.

Fashion, for example, will be approached differently. “We could produce an article on sustainability, or we could produce an article on what kind of straight leg jeans are right for plus size women, which I don’t think other posts would be that harsh on,” he says. she. “What’s also different is the way we tell stories because we don’t talk to people. We don’t talk about them. They tell their own stories and I think it’s very different.

Refinery29 was officially launched in Australia.

Refinery29 started as a New York fashion and beauty blog founded by Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich. Over time, it has grown into a publication that covers women’s issues such as pay gaps and sexual harassment.

But portraying progressive issues has not been without challenges. An internal revolt erupted in the US division last year when Refinery29 changed the colors of its website during the protests against the death of George Floyd. Employees took to Twitter to speak out against what they saw as hypocrisy on the part of the website’s management, particularly on issues of race and diversity.

“Any brand is much bigger than the people who worked on it,” says Campbell-Avenell. “While past accusations of toxic workplace behavior at Refinery29 in the United States are undoubtedly disturbing, they were specific to former senior executives and were quickly implemented when they came to light. Refinery29 Australia operates under a whole different direction, and we’ve hired a team that faithfully reflects everything the brand stands for, including diversity and inclusiveness.

Australia is the fifth country to launch Refinery29 and is the first since the acquisition of the entity for US $ 400 million by Vice Media Group in 2019 (the company launched a UK edition in 2015, a German edition in 2016 , a Canadian edition in 2018 and a French edition in 2019). Its launch was announced by the Pedestrian Group (whose owner Nine also owns this masthead) in March.

Campbell-Avenell says the local publication has autonomy over how it operates and what it publishes. Ahead of the post’s launch, an Instagram initiative called # 29Takeovers was launched. Refinery29 handed over her Instagram “Stories” to 29 people who she said represented what Refinery29 Australia is. It featured a climate activist, consent activist, skin scientist, disability advocate and non-binary fashion force.


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