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Type of site
Media and entertainment
Available inEnglish
FoundedNovember 2005; 18 years ago (2005-11)
225 Broadway, New York, New York
OwnerVice Media
Founder(s)Philippe von Borries
Justin Stefano
Piera Gelardi
Christene Barberich[2]
EmployeesOver 500 (as of October 2017)[3]
LaunchedSummer 2005
Current statusActive

Refinery29 (R29) is an American multinational digital media and entertainment website focused on young women. It is owned by Vice Media.


Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Piera Gelardi, and Christene Barberich co-founded Refinery29 in 2005 as a city guide, emphasizing fashion local to New York City.[4][5] The name of the website alludes to the website distilling information into its essence.[6] The company headquarters is located in the Financial District, Manhattan neighborhood of New York City.[7]

Refinery29 has over 450 employees globally[3] with offices in Los Angeles,[8] London,[9] and Berlin.[9] In 2015, the company launched a UK edition at and the following year in 2016, a German edition at[10][11] In 2016, Refinery29 announced it had raised $45 million in funding led by Turner.[12] As of 2017, Refinery29 reaches an audience of over 500 million globally.[13]

On October 2, 2019, Vice Media announced that it would acquire Refinery29. The deal, worth a reported $400 million,[14] valued the combined company at $4 billion.[15]

In March 2021, Pedestrian Group announced a multi-year deal with Vice Media and Refinery29 to become the Australian digital publishing home of both brands.[16][17] A new team was announced for Refinery29 later that year.[18]

On May 15, 2023, Vice Media formally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as part of a possible sale to a consortium of lenders including Fortress Investment Group, which will, alongside Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital, invest $225 million as a credit bid for nearly all of its assets.[19]

Ownership and governance[edit]

The company is owned by Vice Media.[20]

Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries were CEOs as of June 2020.[21]


Refinery29 produces editorial and video programming, live events, and social, shareable content delivered across major social media platforms, and covers a variety of categories.[citation needed]

Refinery29 was listed three consecutive years on Crain's "Fast 50",[22][23][24] has won seven Clio Awards,[25][26][27][28][29][30] and seven Webby Awards.[31][32][33][34][35]

The company produces an annual pop-up exhibition, 29Rooms, where visitors can take self-portraits for sharing on Instagram.[36][37] 29Rooms was launched in 2015 on Refinery29's 10-Year Anniversary.[38] It has been credited as the first "selfie museum".[39][40]

Notable writers for Refinery29 include Kathleen Newman-Bremang.[41]

Workplace culture and pay disparity[edit]

In early June 2020, women of color and black employees and freelancers took to social media to tell stories of discrimination while working for Refinery29.[42] A writer for the company wrote on Twitter of "a toxic company culture" and pay disparity [between people of color and white employees].[43]

On June 10, 2020, co-founders and CEOs Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries released a letter addressing the controversy, which read, in part: "After having read these accounts, we recognize how our privilege as two white male CEOs created blinders that kept us from seeing the struggles, exclusion, and aggressions that you felt at R29. This is an earthquake of a wake-up call."[21]

Co-founder Christene Barberich stepped aside as Global Editor-in-Chief, but remained an employee of Refinery29 until November 2020.[43] In Barberich's Instagram announcement post she wrote, "I’ve read and taken in the raw and personal accounts of Black women and women of color regarding their experiences inside our company at Refinery29 and what’s clear from these experiences, is that R29 has to change. We have to do better, and that starts with making room. And, so I will be stepping aside in my role at R29 to help diversify our leadership in editorial and ensure this brand and the people it touches can spark a new defining chapter."[20] On June 11, 2020, author and former Refinery29 employee Sesali Bowen called Barberich a "sacrificial lamb" on Twitter.[44] Barberich also faced criticism after a former employee recalled in 2020 that Barberich once cried in a team meeting after being told she seemed "squeamish" when discussing race.[45] It was stated Barberich had decided to go home earlier that day due to the confrontation.[46]


  1. ^ "Refinery29 - Contact Information". Refinery29. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  2. ^ "How Two First-Time Founders Went From $28,000 Salaries To Owning A $100 Million Media Brand". Business Insider. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Steigrad, Alexandra (2017-03-01). "Refinery29 Charts New Course of Growth Amid Restructuring". WWD. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  4. ^ "Refinery29 launches in Germany". TechCrunch. 6 June 2016. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  5. ^ Moses, Lucia. "Inside the Vice Media-Refinery29 deal and what it means for the future of digital media". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  6. ^ "life's essentials include a budget". Archived from the original on 2010-06-05.
  7. ^ Michael Nunez (12 December 2011). "Refinery29: Boutique Fashion and Design for All". International Business Times.
  8. ^ Spangler, Todd (2017-06-29). "Refinery29 Hires MTV Vet Joanna Bomberg as Head of Talent (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  9. ^ a b Crook, Jordan. "Refinery29 launches in Germany". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  10. ^ "Willkommen! Refinery29 enters German market". Digiday. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  11. ^ Samios, Zoe (2021-08-01). "'Diversity and inclusivity': Refinery29 Australia tries a new approach to fashion, lifestyle news". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  12. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "Refinery29 raises $45M more led by Turner at a $500M valuation". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  13. ^ "Refinery29 Aims to Help Brands Connect With Women IRL". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  14. ^ "Vice Media Closes Refinery29 Acquisition, Sets New Management Team". Deadline Hollywood. 4 November 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  15. ^ Spangler, Todd (October 2, 2019). "Vice media to acquire Refinery29, as both digital media players seek scale". Variety. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Samios, Zoe (2021-03-14). "Pedestrian Group signs deals to publish US websites Vice and Refinery29". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  17. ^ "Vice Australia and Refinery29 to join Pedestrian Group in a multi-year deal with Vice Media Group". Nine Entertainment. 14 March 2021. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  18. ^ Shepherd, Emma (18 January 2022). "Pedestrian Group appoints new team behind Vice AUNZ". Mumbrella. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  19. ^ Whittock, Jesse (15 May 2023). "Vice Media Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  20. ^ a b "Vice Media launches probe into Refinery29's toxic work environment". CNN. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  21. ^ a b "A Letter From Our Co-Founders and Former Co-CEOs". Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  22. ^ "No. 12 Refinery29 - 2014 Fast 50 | Crain's New York Business". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  23. ^ "With $50M funding round, Refinery29 could join the ranks of Buzzfeed and Vox". Archived from the original on 2017-03-30.
  24. ^ "Seven media and entertainment companies make Crain's Fast 50". Archived from the original on 2017-03-29.
  25. ^ "Refinery29 - 29Rooms". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  26. ^ "Refinery29 - Refinery29's 2016 Stick Out! Calendar". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  27. ^ "Refinery29 - Daughter of Paradise". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  28. ^ "Refinery29 x H&M - In Motion". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  29. ^ "Refinery29 - Refinery29 This AM". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  30. ^ "Refinery29 Short Cuts x Cancerland - Cancerland". Clios. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  31. ^ "Fashion & Beauty". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  32. ^ "Refinery29 | The Webby Awards". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  33. ^ "The Skinny | The Webby Awards". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  34. ^ "Refinery29 | The Webby Awards". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  35. ^ "Refinery29 Social Content & Marketing Submission | The Webby Awards". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  36. ^ Herrington, Nicole (November 1, 2018). "Funhouse for Selfies: The Immersive 29Rooms Pops Up (Again)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  37. ^ Ryzik, Melena (December 22, 2017). "29Rooms Is a Creative Playhouse for the Instagram Set". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  38. ^ "History". 29Rooms from Refinery29. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  39. ^ Kwun, Aileen (January 11, 2018). "Exploring the effects of social media on art and culture, one selfie at a time". CNN. Retrieved 2020-10-31.
  40. ^ Goldstein, Caroline (April 25, 2018). "8 Instagram-ready art attractions that prove the Museum of Ice Cream was just the beginning". ArtNet. Retrieved 2020-10-31.
  41. ^ Clarrie Feinstein, "Refinery29 expands Unbothered into Canada, uplifting Black women's stories". Daily Hive, February 17, 2021.
  42. ^ "Refinery29 Editor Resigns After Former Employees Speak Out on Racism". Vulture. 8 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  43. ^ a b Robertson, Katie (2020-06-08). "Refinery29 Editor Resigns After Former Employees Describe 'Toxic Culture'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-06-10. I worked at Refinery29 for less than nine months due to a toxic company culture where white women's egos ruled the near nonexistent editorial processes. One of the founders consistently confused myself and one of our full-time front desk associates & pay disparity was atrocious.
  44. ^ Sesali Thee Authoress [@BadFatBlackGirl] (June 11, 2020). "Some points were made here, but let's clarify some things. I believe in saying names. First and foremost, Christene Barberich was about to leave Refinery anyway. She was an easy sacrificial lamb for all this" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 2021-08-05. Retrieved 2021-09-04 – via Twitter.
  45. ^ Jennings, Rebecca (2020-06-11). "Women's media seemed progressive in the 2010s. Black employees say otherwise". Vox. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  46. ^ Bauck, Whitney (8 June 2020). "Refinery29 Founder Christene Barberich Steps Down as Editor-in-Chief in Response to Accusations of Racism and Toxic Company Culture". Fashionista. Retrieved 2020-06-15.

External links[edit]