Antwerp: a mecca for the fashionista
The Belgian fashion world hasn't been the same since Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten and Marina Yee decided to join forces in 1986 and present their work together at the British Designer Show at London Olympia. The Antwerp Six – christened as such by the British fashion journalist Marysia Woroniecka as a solution to their hard-to-pronounce names – quickly drew the attention of buyers and the international press. They also received enormous attention the following year in London.
This led the Six to start hosting ‘fashion buyers' days’ in Antwerp. Here they invited international buyers to visit their showrooms where they displayed their summer 1988 collections. And with that, Antwerp became an important location on the international fashion scene. Some of the Six – including Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester – still have their own boutiques in the city.
The heart of fashion
Antwerp gained a new landmark attraction in 2002 with the opening of the MoMu fashion museum on Nationalestraat. Here you will often find enthralling exhibitions in which pieces from its permanent collection are supplemented with borrowed pieces. In the same building is the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts as well as the Flanders Fashion Institute and the specialist bookshop Copyright.
The building also houses Renaissance, which contains a restaurant, a bar and a clothing store selling various labels, including Alexander Wang, Céline and Helmut Lang. Princess on the Meir and Blue on Schrijnwerkerstraat are owned by the same people and also contribute to the local fashion scene. Verso – another fantastically located multi-label boutique – is another location that is sure to make any fashion aficionado's heart skip a beat, with collections from Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace.
Where as most of the large chains can be found on the Meir, you will discover a host of unique shops near the Bourla, around the KMSKA and along Nationalestraat and Schuttershofstraat. Kammenstraat is the destination for the young and hip. The little streets in this part of the city hide many original little shops each with a unique offering.
Anyone planning on discovering the secrets of the fashion city of Antwerp should visit the website www.fashioninantwerp.be, download the associated app or pick up one of the free fashion maps from the tourist office.
Story created on 18 June 2014