The women-focused digital outlet is bringing on Gabrielle Korn as its director of fashion and culture, a new position at Refinery. Korn until August was editor in chief of Nylon, the youthful magazine turned digital-only site, but she left the brand when it was acquired by Bustle Digital Group.
Korn actually worked at Refinery as a beauty editor before taking up with Nylon and so referred to the move as “returning to my roots.”
“I’ve spent the past five years cheering the team on from afar,” Korn said. “I’m looking forward to digging into what’s next, exploring not just what fashion means to readers in today’s world, but how the industry itself interacts with emerging culture, identity politics and sustainability.”
In her new role, effective mid-November, Korn will oversee Refinery’s fashion editorial team and is being tasked with expanding style and culture coverage. She will report to Christene Barberich, a cofounder of Refinery and its global editor in chief, who characterized Korn as “a prime example of Refinery29’s mission to motivate and inspire women through their own unique identity and personal style.”
The hiring of Korn comes only a couple of weeks after Vice Media made a surprise acquisition of Refinery, through a mostly stock transaction worth around $400 million, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. That’s $100 million less than it was valued at about two years ago, despite the site recently reporting its best monthly Comscore traffic ever at 36 million uniques.
Both Vice and Refinery are looking to the tie-up as a way to manage through increased scale the current squeeze in digital media, led by issues with platform-dependency and struggles with profitability from unreliable advertising revenue. Refinery in 2016 raised $45 million based on a valuation at the time of $500 million. Vice, too, has its share of issues. In 2017, the company boasted a valuation of more than $5 billion, but by early 2019 its largest investor Disney had written down its entire $500 million investment in the company, meaning Disney saw the investment as essentially worthless.
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