Monica Ho blogs under the name Monica Harmony. She was born and raised in Belgium and is a big fan of fashion and Belgian designers. She is inspired by street style, inspiring others with her own unique style. And now she shares her list of favourite Antwerp hotspots with shopping addicts.
Antwerp is the Belgian fashion capital par excellence. Hot on the success of the Antwerp Six in the Eighties, the city soon developed into a favourite destination for fashionistas. Many of the Belgian designers who shot to international fame preferred to go back to their roots over time, opening flagship stores in Antwerp. The city has several neighbourhoods, which are all equally unique. There are also some hidden gems here and there, which can all be easily reached on foot. In addition to Antwerp’s main shopping drag, which is called Meir and where you will find all the large chains such as Zara and H&M, there are several other neighbourhoods with shops that are 100% Belgian, offering 100% quality.
Atelier Solarshop is located near Antwerp’s Central Station. This shop originally started out as a solar panel shop, but has since become the place to be for art, fashion and designer lovers. Run by the Antwerp designer Jan-Jan Van Essche and the photographer Pietro Celestina, Atelier Solarshop stocks the collections of young designers as well as Jan-Jan’s own clothing line. He applies his design philosophy, which is all about comfort, to all his collections, creating ethical and qualitative garments, which are all made in Belgium.
Forget about diamonds, shoes are a girl’s best friend! And if you love shoes, then there’s only one place to go: to Coccodrillo of course! Founded in 1983 by Geert Bruloot and Eddy Michiels, this shop is still hugely successful. It was the first shop to stock Martin Margiela’s unique shoes, which only enhanced Coccodrillo’s visionary image. Since then, the owners have established a close relationship with such luxury brands as Balenciaga, Prada, Raf Simons and Dries Van Noten. Spotted some one-of-a-kind shoes on the catwalk? Then look no further, Cinderella because Coccodrillo is bound to have it!
No list of shopping hotspots would be complete without Dries Van Noten, one of the “original members” of the Antwerp Six. The Antwerp designer has succeeded in enchanting women and men of all ages with his collections and his successful “fashion emporium”. By sticking to his design aesthetic, i.e., using bold prints, he has become a fixture on the international fashion scene. Van Noten’s shop, which is located in Modepaleis, sells his collections but is also renowned for its amazing window displays, with enchanting scenes that weave a story around his clothes.
Two years ago, Christian Wijnants, who is well-known for his amazing knitwear, even teaching at Antwerp’s fashion academy and winning an International Woolmark Prize, opened a magnificent store in Steenhouwersvest. His iconic clothes and accessory collections always stand out because of their colourful prints and amazing design techniques.
Katrin Wouters and Karen Hendrix, who both studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, have over 30 years of experience designing jewellery. Their shop in Steenhouwersvest sells elegant and refined jewellery that is all made in Belgium. The designers tell a unique story with each of their collections, with jewels that are designed and manufactured with outstanding craftsmanship. Silver, gold, precious gems… At Wouters & Hendrix you can buy slightly more expensive jewellery that will last a lifetime!
Graanmarkt13 is the jack of all trades on Antwerp’s shopping scene and probably one of Antwerp’s best-known concept stores. Here they sell clothes by leading international brands such as Kenzo and Marni as well as elegant interior decoration objects. This place has it all: a gallery, a restaurant and even a beautifully designed apartment above the store when you can spend the night.
If you believe in ethical fashion, then pop into Bruno Pieters’s shop, which is called Honest by. This label sells stylish and sustainable clothing, sharing the story of every individual garment in the collection. So you always know what you’re buying and where it came from. 100% transparency guaranteed. You can buy the collection online but the designer also recently opened his first flagship store in Antwerp.
Garderobe nationale sells a mix of young designers and timeless brands. Nathalie Lechat, the owner, who is also the designer of Belgian fashion brand Magdalena, created a stunning store with a simple design, that highlights the clothes on the racks and shelves. Nathalie is always on the lookout for new brands, specialising in affordable Belgian designers.
Anyone who thinks knitted jumpers are old-fashioned should check out the knitwear at Morrison. Patrick and Jan Olyslager run this unique clothes store in Nationalestraat. They are also the designers of the Belgian knitwear brand Howlin’, working with qualitative and sustainably produced Shetland wool. They guarantee that every Morrison jumper was ethically produced and will last for years. In addition to Howlin’, Morrison also sells other brands such as Leathercraft, Ally Capellino and Hartford.
If you love unique jewellery, then you’ve come to the right place. The four women who design Studio Collect met while studying jewellery design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. They opened a pop-up shop in Wilde Zee in 2013 and have since moved to a permanent store in Kloosterstraat. Weddings rings and customised jewellery, something to suit everyone’s taste.
Kaffeenini provides a welcome break during your shopping trip. If you’re hungry, consider ordering one of their delicious bagels or Flammkuchen while you give your feet a much-needed rest.
Discover a range of surprising new brands at De Nieuwe Natie in the Stadsfeestzaal shopping centre until 31 March. A group of young creative start-ups are temporarily selling their fun and innovative products here.
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