Yesterday evening we visited the opening of The Smallest Traveling Store in The World, a mini-guerilla shop by the Belgian design duo A.F.Vandevorst. The store-within-a-store took up residence at Patron of the New, a multi-brand boutique in Tribeca, New York. This is its first stop in the U.S. after being featured at places like The Dover Street Market and Selfridges in London.
Filip Arickx, who designs for the label with his wife An Vandevorst, was at the store and took a minute to walk me through the concept. “The store grew out of our initial guerrilla shop called AKTION, which we launched in Antwerp in 2009, and then moved around Belgium. We used Facebook and Twitter to tell our fans about the locations,” he said. Initially the couple did not think that much would come out of the project, but they quickly began getting inquiries about recreating the guerrilla store outside of Belgium. However, the logistics proved cumbersome and instead A.F.Vandevorst came up with the idea of creating a space that reflects their design ethos but is also easy to transport and install.
One of the earliest influences on their work were the military nurse uniforms (hence the red square as their logo). A.F.Vandevorst made a splash in the late 90s by showing their collections on models lying in hospital beds. Thence came the idea for TSTSITW, to recreate a hospital room. The hospital bed acts as the center piece, a place where you can sit down to try on shoes, the white screen next to the bed becomes the fitting room, and the hospital monitor becomes a device for viewing A.F.Vandevorst runway shows, so you can see how the clothes are styled.
On display were the signature A.F.Vandevorst pieces with military and equestrian influences, as well as their ruggedly elegant boots with wrap-around zippers. The shop has opened today and will run until February 24, after which it will move to another, yet-undisclosed U.S. location.