Top 10 Innovative Brands 2017: #10 Refinery29

The millennial-minded media company has mastered immersive, Instagram-worthy activations.

By Michele Laufik June 14, 2017, 6:05 AM EDT

Refinery29 collaborates with artists to create fun, interactive spaces for its 29Rooms installation.

Photo: Matteo Prandoni/

Launched in 2004, Refinery29 has grown from a fashion-focused website to a lifestyle brand that speaks to a key demographic—millennial women—with fresh content and even fresher events.

With an in-house creative team and its broad reach as a media outlet, the New York-based company offers partners a unique one-two punch. In April, the company created a retrospective event with HBO to say farewell to the cable network’s series Girls. Fans relived the show with memorabilia and set pieces, audio and visual clips, and an illustrated timeline. Plus, the brand recently scored $45 million in funding, led by broadcasting giant Turner, so expect more TV tie-ins.

Refinery29 also translates its distinct vibe (and engaged audience) into its own events. The two-year-old 29Rooms installation is a social-media-savvy, three-day interactive exhibit that takes place during New York Fashion Week in September. The funhouse features 29 rooms that are created in collaboration with artists and focus on timely themes such as race, wellness, and gender. Last year’s event reached about half of all Instagram users.

“We focus on creating events that encourage interaction, shareability, play, creativity, and innovation,” says Piera Gelardi, the site’s executive creative director and co-founder.

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