In a world obsessed with fakes and fast fixes, it can be difficult to hunt down the genuine article. But if you happen to step into The Standard Store on Surry Hills’ Crown Street in Sydney, it’s clear that there’s a connection between authenticity and the things you actually want to own.
“You just have to stay true to things that are beautiful,” says Nicola Reindorf, who co-founded The Standard Store with her partner Orlando in 2011, after extended stints in fashion wholesaling.
“We just try to look for quality and we stock the real thing every time – whether that’s a Breton shirt or an original Mackintosh.”
Reindorf’s approach seems to be working. Over the last two years, The Standard Store has garnered something of a cult following, thanks to its discerning eye for detail and knack for combining classic international brands with left-field finds, sourced during regular buying trips to New York, Paris and London.
But Reindorf, who is fresh from a New York expedition when we chat, is more excited by latent design trends and a city’s idiosyncrasies rather than the conventional fashion buyer’s tired old circuit.
“Whenever I’m in New York, I spend a lot of time in Soho and just look in every store. Barney’s is beautiful and I really like all the apothecaries…”
She also sometimes finds inspiration in unlikely places. “I’m obsessed with Nike at the moment and I was really excited by all the people queuing up around Supreme [on Lafayette Street]. It’s very 90s.”
It’s unsurprising that The Standard Store manages to be eclectic and considered at the same time – a rare combination for a fashion retailer.
At any given time, the elegant space – which features high ceilings and polished hardwood floors – could play host to tissue-soft Kitsune T-shirts, knits in grape, tangerine and turquoise courtesy of French label Erotokritos, and handmade skate shoes with a Lower East Side vibe.
Reindorf says that she’s spent years establishing relationships with stockists and that these connections have helped her appreciate the brand’s techniques, perspectives and histories. “We’ve actually known a lot of our main brands for a long time,” she says. “A lot of them were in wholesale and have started their own labels. A lot of them are doing their own things. We hang out with them whenever we see them; our relationships definitely go beyond business.”
However, Reindorf remains just as committed to unearthing new talent and bringing it to Sydney. “I’ve just found some really quirky and interesting jewellery from Brooklyn, some hipflasks. I stumbled upon some French girls making fantastic scarves in London. It’s always great to see or hear people doing new things.”
Reindorf might appreciate the combination of grit and creativity that goes into making it in the fashion industry, but she also remains firm about the place of bricks and mortar retail and its ability to offer shoppers an experience that the internet couldn’t hope to replicate.
“I’m really, really passionate that bricks and mortar retail should still be around!” she urges. “I’ve just been in New York and if I couldn’t go walking around the shops I’d be depressed!”
Luckily, The Standard Store is working on its own antidotes to the lure of sites such as eBay and ASOS.
“We’re planning French lessons, we’re hosting events in the space upstairs and we’re thinking of starting whiskey tastings,” she says. “It’s important for us to get customer loyalty – to try and offer a little bit more than a regular shopping experience.”
It looks like Reindorf may well have that in the bag.