For its 26th concept incarnation, NYC experiential retail store, STORY, offers a new sort of editorial installation. Founder Rachel Shechtman partnered with acclaimed artist and Instagram sensation Donald Robertson (perhaps best known as Drawbertson) and the result is “Donald.” Not only did Robertson lend his artistic vision to an array of exciting collaborative products, he’s donned the walls and display tables with his own work, hand-painted on site. It’s an exhibition meets shopping experience—equal parts charming and thoughtful. All of this happens to coincide with the release of Robertson’s fashion-forward children’s book, “Mitford at the Fashion Zoo,” and the onset of New York Fashion Week.
Of the 20+ exclusive merchandise collaborations, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Robertson applied his touch to everything from UrbanEars headphones to Sugarfina candies. There are definitely impressive standouts, from custom Canada Goose jackets to modified Rolex watches, with the customization spearheaded by CH favorite Bamford Watch Department. Even Bow and Drape, the clothing customization brand, has taken part—turning Robertson’s Emoji designs into patches which can be applied to T-shirts on site.
“I met Donald a year ago, through a mutual friend—Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker,” Shechtman shares with CH. (Robertson’s Warby Parker collaboration also happens to be sold at STORY.) Initially, Shechtman invited Robertson in for a bag-signing event. When it drew hundreds of people into the store, they decided it made sense do something bigger. Normally, STORY’s themes focus on a subject matter. This time, Shechtman made the leap and decided that an individual could, in fact, be the subject and Robertson was the ideal candidate.
“The best thing about this collaboration, it’s full Cinderella. In a month, it’s all gone. There will be no trace. That’s what I am most excited about. It’s here right now and then when it’s gone, it is gone,” Robertson notes. For him, it’s much like a gallery opening with work visible for only a moment. Also important, however, was the freedom he was offered. “People who know better tell me I have to edit myself and I have to be specific. They said I can’t launch a kids book during New York Fashion Week and be fashion-y, while also selling stuff. I said, ‘Yes, I can.’ This is literally what my Instagram is like. It’s a mish-mash of all this stuff.” And despite the diversity of themes under the “Donald” banner, it’s all cohesive and beautiful. “This is about the fact that all our attention spans are blown,” he continues. “Every time I turn around, I want to go stand at whatever I am looking at.”
It took just two months to develop all of the products. As Robertson concludes, “It was just chemistry and trust.” True to form, the space is much like a living magazine, gallery and a store all in one—perhaps more so now than ever before. And, while all the products are high-end, not all of them are highly priced. From the Tidal flip-flop collaboration and S’well water bottles, all the way to a range of notebooks (with proceeds from each sale going to benefit Free Arts NYC), there’s definitely something for everyone.
“Donald” will run at STORY from today, 10 August, through 20 September 2015. There will be multiple events hosted on location, including the 10 August launch of Robertson’s book “Mitford at the Fashion Zoo” and a Smashbox make-up tutorial on 27 August. In September, STORY will unveil more product collaborations coinciding with New York Fashion Week.
Images by David Graver