Refinery29 Uses Uber to Distribute Print Magazine for Fashion Week
Refinery29 is giving print a try, just in time for New York Fashion Week.
The style website has printed 30,000 copies of a 28-page "zine" it calls Refinery29 Editions, which is filled with fashion photography and illustrations. Copies are being distributed in select Uber cars in New York during Fashion Week, which kicked off Wednesday, as well as parts of the city.
No advertisers appear in the issue.
A Refinery29 spokeswoman said Editions does not represent a broader strategy to develop a regular print magazine. Instead, it's a way to bridge Refinery29's online presence and real-world events.
Publishing a print magazine might seem like an attractive idea for Refinery29, which did $55 million to $60 million in revenue last year and achieved profitability, according to people familiar with the company.
Justin Stefano, co-CEO at Refinery29, said recently that that the company had "meaningful" profits in 2014.
Several e-commerce sites -- most notably Net-A-Porter -- have introduced glossy magazines that resemble fashion stalwarts like Vogue or Harper's Bazaar. Hearst Magazines, publisher of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, has also experimented with "pop-up" print magazines that it distributes for free in certain cities. And fashion advertisers are among those most wedded to print.
But the traditional print magazine business is under intense pressure. Newsstand sales have cratered. And worse, magazines' main source of revenue, print advertising, is declining rapidly as marketers shift their budgets to digital media, a trend that has helped Refinery29 grow its business.
Refinery29 does have some experience in print. Late last year, the site published a book called "Style Stalking," which is now on the New York Times "Fashion, Manners and Customs" bestseller list.