Refinery 29 has made a name for itself as a place for millennial women to learn more about fashion and beauty. Now, the media company is expanding its reach to include all lifestyle content—and that means dipping its toes into hard news.
"It's a very organic and natural evolution for us," Refinery29 co-founder Philippe von Borries said. "We're not going into a place of creating a CNN for women. We're being smart about the news we cover as it relates to the lifestyle of the modern women."
At its first Digital Content NewFronts presentation Wednesday in New York, the company announced a slate of programming that vastly expands upon the light-hearted slideshows and advice pieces it's generally known for. Von Borries said it reflects the publication's move to expand its reach and become a trusted source for its key demographic, a place for millennial women similar to how Vice has resonated with the male demographic.
"We've always been a platform for independent thinkers and individually for women, especially," von Borries said.
Amy Emmerich, executive vice president of programming at Refinery29, said videos would include tutorials, documentaries and scripted content, ranging from short-form to longer formats. In total, 29 shows are in development. The site also expanded its editorial team by promoting Ben Reininga (from NowThisNews) to deputy editor and bringing on Meredith Clark, who previously covered human rights and civil liberties for MSNBC, as a news writer. It also helps that Refinery29 closed a $50 million round of series D funding on April 28, helping bankroll the publication's new direction.
"We have as much edge [as Vice], but we definitely have more optimism," Emmerich said. "That's what the women's voices bring to the table."
While roughly 15 of the potential new series will be tutorials and how-to guides for fashion, beauty, food and wellness, Refinery 29 will also explore scripted and documentary content with shows including the following:
- Her Shorts is a series produced in conjunction with Planned Parenthood in which celebrities including Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Mamie Gummer, Mae Whitman, Jack Antonoff, Jenni Konner and Richard Shepard explore women's and men's reproductive rights and health issues.
- S*!tty Boyfriends is a scripted series that explores the life and times of Amanda as she navigates the dating scene. It's produced by New Form Digital and Is or Isn't Entertainment, Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky's production company.
- We Are the XX—Co-founders of We Are the XX, Kassidy Brown and Allison Rapson, shine a light on how women across the world are living and fighting for women's rights.
- Trendsetters of Tehran is a fashion show highlighting the styles and lifestyles of women in Tehran, Iran as Western culture begins to influence the country.
- The Skinny is a dark scripted comedy series co-produced with Wifey.tv about a comedian living in Los Angeles struggling to make it in the industry while battling bulimia.
Refinery 29 also is continuing its investment in virtual reality with the second season of Fashionably Bound, its travel series that takes viewers to places like New Orleans, Berlin and Tulum, Mexico.
"It's amazing playing in this space, and we're excited to do more," Emmerich said.