This past Tuesday the Belgian brand A.F. Vandevorst opened their first flagship store in Antwerp. The decision to stay in their hometown despite their global presence follows long tradition of the likes of Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten, who also opened their first flagship stores here. “Antwerp is our home, our base, the heart of our work. We have direct contact with the women who find their way to or in our collections,” the designers An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx told us.
For a brand such as A.F. Vandevorst is, with clear visual language, from the red cross of a logo to the hospital-bed aesthetic in their presentations, the flagship, where these symbols can be brought under one roof, seems almost necessary. “The store will help us to communicate not only through our garments and our shows but also through a retail concept. We will also have more contact with women who wear our clothes. Through this direct contact we can transmit our aesthetics face to face,” the designers said.
Bob Verhelst, who has already worked with the brand on their MoMu exhibit, and is therefore deeply familiar with the brand’s semiotics, designed the shop, keeping its color palette in cream tones with touches of chrome. All shop’s fixtures were created by designers themselves.
A.F. Vandevorst have previously experimented with the temporary “guerilla” stores and shop-in-shops, so they did not come unprepared. And when a new investor came on board several years ago, a flagship seemed like a natural progression. “For the guerilla shops we emphasized on the concept and not so much on our garments. This time we wanted to create a real store with the focus on our clothes. We imagined the best location in Antwerp would be in the Lombardenvest, close to the center, and when a few months ago a premises exactly in that street became available we did not hesitate.”
Indeed, merchandising and personal interaction will be key in the new shop. Besides their mainline, footwear, and accessories, the flagship will carry one-offs and special pieces. Twice a month, customers will be able to meet with the designers themselves and order custom-made pieces in the showroom above the shop.
The opening of the shop coincides with the relaunch of the A.F. Vandevorst e-commerce site later this month.
A.F. Vandevorst | Lombardenvest 20, 2000 Antwerpen
Ph: +32 495 52 42 63 | Antwerp_Store@afvandevorst.be
Images by Ann Valle, courtesy of A.F. Vandevorst