Natalie Joos in Five Story
There really has not been much left to discover since the birth of the internet. Every nook and cranny of the world has been unearthed and exposed on your screen, leaving the word ‘underground’ a thing of the pre-globalized past.
In the world of fashion, e-stores all stock the same designers and shopping has become a pyjamas-in-my-couch kind of affair, with everyone ending up looking like walking advertisements. Twenty-six year old New Yorker (Upper East Sider to be exact) Claire Distenfeld has been frustrated with the forlorn shopping experience for quite some time. ‘The physicality of walking through stores and being creatively enhanced is lost,’ she laments. The culprits are the store owners who ‘stopped trying to create new experiences.’
Five Story's Claire Distenfeld and Natalie Joos
So she sat down with her father, a man equally aesthetically inspired - and on his way to retirement, and drew up a plan to open a new kind of concept store, a ‘haven for people looking to find unique and original product, things that will make people feel like individuals.’
Five Story's brownstone exterior
Five Story will officially open on March 29th , but the brownstone construction site has been welcoming customers in a two-room staging area since November. I was even invited to a small dinner party in honor of the ‘birth’ but unfortunately couldn’t make it.
Claire helps Natalie try on a skirt from the store
So when farfetch.com asked me to nominate my favorite, new, independent stores for their SUPERSTORE awards, I had another chance to discover this truly inspiring and ballsy initiative. Sadly, the store opened a little too late to join the competition, but I knew it would be a shame not to honor this exciting new shopping experience…
Natalie models a piece from the store
Truth be told, shopping at Fivestory is an enchanting experience; you feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland, tiptoeing around porcelain cups, shiny necklaces and fluffy pillows.
Claire shows Natalie around the store
The interior is made up of dark oak wall paneling, wooden floorboards, classic designer furniture (that’s also for sale), exotic rugs and intimate lighting. It feels expensive and exclusive, like an old English Country Club or Ambassador’s residence, but the price tags are not as bad as that would suggest. Claire chooses brands you wouldn’t usually find uptown, like Lynn Devon or Helmstone - affordable, young designers with a knack for elegance, or hand-sewn boots from Uruguay or printed T-shirts by French street artists. She buys for the curious customer. So even though you’re in a swanky part of town, where poodles get perms and babies wear Pucci, Five Story is a mirage of affordable luxury. You don’t have to be Imelda Marcos to walk out with a shopping bag. Because let’s face it, who is these days?
The Five Story swing tags