Studio Visit

Nicola Reindorf of The Standard Store

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
1st of June 2012

The Standard Store ladies things, as schjoozed by store manager Jen Booth. Photo - Lucy Feagins
AMAZING collab - Tricker's x The Standard Store shoes! Photo - Lucy Feagins
The Standard Store mens things, Photo - Lucy Feagins

Those that follow TDF on instagram (I'm still getting the hang of it) will know just how much I love The Standard Store.  It really is the ace-est shop in Sydney.  It's ace for a NUMBER of reasons, including but not limited to the following -

1) It has an excellent girls range and an equally (if not even more!) excellent boys range.  This is actually quite genius because it means you can pop in with your significant other and BOTH of you will be overcome with an instant urge to browse. (Seriously, the men's range is so fab even the most staunchly 'I hate shopping' BF will get swept up in the Japanese denim awesomeness, I am speaking from experience).

2) The very amazing Jen Booth runs the shop day to day (see here to jog your memory banks).  Jen is a little bit magic - she gives the most brilliant good old fashioned customer service, and in her presence, amazing coincidences happen!  But beware, she is also the best sales girl in Sydney.  Your wallet is NOT SAFE within 500 metres.

3) The Standard Store is run by two of the most clued-in, switched-on, trend-setting and globe-trotting fashion buyers in the land. Otherwise known as Nicola and Orlando Reindorf.

Nicola and Orlando are a husband and wife team.  They first met in London, where Orlando is from, and then relocated to Nicola's hometown of Sydney, where, in 2000, they launched Flying Standard - their wholesale fashion distribution business. Flying Standard is now Sydney's leading distributor of UK and international labels to the Australian retail industry, and just last year Nicola and Orlando expanded their business by opening The Standard Store.

Nicola and Orlando really are a kind of dream team, bringing together a wealth of combined experience to both their distribution and retail businesses. Nicola's background is in fashion styling and fashion retail (she once had her own fashion boutique in Barcelona!) and Orlando worked for many years wholesaling Diesel and DKNY in the UK before moving to Australia.  They're both extremely passionate about style, quality and brands with history and integrity - it's clear from a visit to The Standard Store that both Nicola and Orlando really favour labels which have a unique story to tell.

Above all, what really makes Nicola and Orlando so seriously cool (as well as being super successful), is their belief that running a great fashion business is actually all about relationships.  They travel a LOT - not just to stay abreast of the ever elusive 'next big thing', but to maintain personal, face to face relationships with all the designers and brands they represent.  It's integral to their philosophy to really approach their business in a very personal, down to earth way - and this totally comes across in every aspect of The Standard Store experience!

Big thanks to Nicola for sharing her story and wisdom with us today -  do share the love with a little visit to The Standard Store website!

Husband and wife team Orlando and Nicola Reindorf in their Surry Hills head office.  Photo - Lucy Feagins
Tell us a little about your backgrounds – how did you each get into fashion originally, and what path led you to meeting and working with Orlando and eventually launch your business together?

I was always into fashion and studied design at East Sydney Technical College, but was no good at the technical side of things (sewing and pattern making). It was this revelation that pushed me into forging a career as a stylist. Around this time travelling was also high on my agenda. I spent five years living abroad in Barcelona where I opened a clothing store with some friends from London, before returning to Australia for a couple of years to manage the X-Large Store in Sydney. I then hooked up with Orlando who was living in London and decided to move there for four years. I guess you could say I ranked up quite a few Frequent Flyer miles.

Orlando had been wholesaling for Diesel and DKNY in London at this time, so fashion was a really big part of our lives. After the birth of our first son we decided to relocate to Sydney as we had outgrown our tiny London flat, and life at the helm of London's fashion industry with a kid was a slog. It was this decision to move back to Australia that spurred some of our London contacts to ask us to represent their labels here, which originally prompted us to start our distribution agency, representing UK labels in Australia.

After many years in wholesale business, you opened The Standard Store nine months ago. What inspired you to move into retail, and how has it been going?

After 10 years in the wholesaling industry I think we felt that we were in a bit of a rut. We were at the mercy of other stores and some of the labels we were wholesaling were not being picked up. Ultimately we decided that the best way to showcase these brands was to put our money where our mouth was and open a store ourselves! Also on our travels we would come across some amazing labels that we loved, but weren’t necessarily right to distribute, and realised there was a gap in the market that we could fill.

At the beginning of last year we were very motivated to make the transition into retail after spending time in Europe and seeing some really beautiful shops. The day we returned home our favourite space (Bubbles Laundromat on Crown Street) had a ‘For Lease’ sign on it – it was a moment of fate. The store was a complete mess but we knew it had amazing potential and eventually transformed the space into The Standard Store. The response has been fantastic! As distributors we heard so much doom and gloom from retailers, but to be on the front line, so-to-speak, and to have the opportunity to meet the punters and to engage with them has been great – it has restored our faith in the industry!

What makes a brand or a range covetable to The Standard Store!?

Something that is genuine and unique. We love things that have a history or a story to tell. There are a lot of brands that have been around for over 100 years, such as Armor Lux and Tricker’s, that are now in fashion again thanks to the whole heritage look, so its great to support these labels. We like quite classic pieces with a twist; timeless items that will last a long time. We also like stand out pieces, items that make you feel special when you wear them. To us a great fashion brand is one that can reinvent itself each season and consistently deliver quality products.

Can you list for us your top 3 pieces for men this winter and top 3 pieces for women for winter?

For the girls

1. A Wool and the Gang scarf or kit – These kits and scarves are made from beautiful Peruvian wool. You can buy the scarf complete, but we would prefer it if you bought the kit and came to The Standard Store's knitting night for a stitch’n’bitch!

2. YMC reversible jacket – It’s super cute reminds us of Holly Hobby!

3. Humanoid boots – These are beautifully made and effortlessly chic.

Nicola's top three picks for the ladies this winter! (need. those. boots!)

For the boys

1. A Folk shirt – We love Folk's attention to detail.

2. Denim Demon jeans – A Swedish denim brand created by two brothers, wear these jeans once and they are yours forever.

3. Tricker’s shoes – Tricker’s has been an around since 1829, so we’re not exaggerating when we say a pair of these are an investment that will last a lifetime.

Orlando's top the picks for the fellas!
How is it working together as a creative couple? How do you work together day-to-day (i.e. what roles do you each take on, is it a very balanced process)? Who wears the pants!?
I hate to say it, but so much of the day is centered around the business side of things… boring but necessary for success. We have very defined roles at work and just get on and do our thing. Creatively we are always in agreement. It is very strange but we have the same taste – we always go for the same things, the same look etc. I tend to do the women’s buying and Orlando does the men’s, it’s definitely a team effort. We do the majority of the buying overseas so I certainly can’t complain. We work well together, both hit the ground running, and share the same passion for what we do. Who wears the pants? Well I am bossy, but Orlando’s my husband so he just ignores me!
Can you list for us 5 specific resources (i.e. specific websites, blogs, magazines or other media) which you turn to regularly to keep abreast of interesting trends/brands/news relevant to your business?

We like Monocle magazine, UK Elle DecoBritish Vogue and Tools (amazing Japanese publication - we sell it in the shop), but to be quite honest it's more about face-to-face contact with people that keeps us most inspired. Sometimes you can’t go out and look for something, it has to come to you, so always be receptive to people. We are not particularly trend driven anyway, we just like nice things!

Tools - amazing Japanese publication about beautifully designed things - for sale at The Standard Store of course!
Which designers, stylists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

Head designer Fraser Moss from YMC has been designing consistently well for over 15 years. He always seems ahead of the curve and is never afraid to break the mould and try something new while drawing inspiration from the past. We also recently picked up new designer Henrik Vibskov, who has an unabashed unique style and is also an amazing artist.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Opening the store and being a part of the local community! The mall culture and e-commerce culture in Sydney has had such a negative impact on retail, so I am most proud that we took a risk in these gloomy economic times and that it has paid off. And I guess just always following our hearts and working in an industry we love. If you are passionate about something success will follow.

What would be your dream creative project?

To transform a big old building on Crown Street into our STANDARD emporium. There would be a very stylish B&B on the top floor, a big open kitchen serving wonderful food in the garden, a perfumery, a book shop , a florist, and of course The Standard Store. It would be a bit like Merci in Paris, but on a more intimate scale. As you can see, we dream big!

What are you looking forward to?

Our next buying trip in July en route to Paris and London for a whirlwind week of inspiration.

Sydney Questions

Your favourite Sydney neighbourhood and why?

Surry Hills because we live and work here. We love living in the inner city and being surrounded by a nice creative buzz and lots of inspiring people.

Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?
Last Sunday's lunch at 4fourteen with the kids. I loved the big open space and the food was great.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Anywhere from the shop floor to the kids' soccer practice, my Xtend barre ballet class or walking with the family and dog to Eveleigh Market to get supplies for a big Saturday night cook-up!

Sydney’s best kept secret?

I would say leave your car at home and go for a long walk through the back streets…you will discover the best secrets yourself!

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