Tuinch

Every so often a label appears out of nowhere that piques my interest. This happened with Tuinch, a brand I’ve discovered while browsing Moda Operandi’s trunkshows last season. I fell in love with it at the first sight – and you will, too. Founder Veronique Vermussche is a passionate knitter, spending much of her free time creating elaborate sweaters and other garments. She combines this passion with her other ones: fashion and travel. The story of Tuinch started quite by coincidence. Traveling home from a vacation in the Himalayas, Veronique’s flight got delayed and she found warmth and comfort wrapping herself in a cashmere scarf bought from a local artisan. This way Veronique fell in love with cashmere, the beloved material that feels likes silk, but warms like lamb wool. The idea grew to develop a cashmere-only knitwear line. Back home she started working on her first collection, autumn-winter 2016, and travelled back extensively to the Himalayas to understand all aspects of the Asian cashmere tradition and to source the finest wool and discover the best artisans. Tuinch’s collections combine an artistic vision with elegant silhouettes. They are truly innovative by revisiting cashmere in not so classic designs we often see in stores and from other brands. The Antwerp-based label is about to release two new capsule collections for autumn-winter season. One is more bold and playful, with an energetic colour palette and knitted, three-dimensional bees (!) stuck on the sleeves. The other capsule is equally artisan, but more suited for, let’s say, beautiful mountain trips or escapes to the country. Those earthy shades used in oversized cardigans, ponchos and turtlenecks look too good. Not speaking of all the timeless, tartan plaids… I tell you, keep Tuinch on your radar when colder days come. Here are the knits that will serve for years!

Discover the brand here.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Antwerp’s Addresses

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Firstly, I adore Antwerp for its fashion heritage, which consists of Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and many other creators whose style and idiosyncratic aesthetics continue to contribute to contemporary fashion. That aura is incredible, and it’s perceivable that the locals celebrate their home designers. But my great love for this Belgian city is as well based on the local stores and boutiques, which always surprise me with their selection of brands and items they sell. These shop-keepers are truly passionate about their work! Been to Antwerp exactly last year, and I was more than happy to re-visit all my favourite addresses this time and see how they progress. And found some new ones as well. I must admit that it would be great to discover more of the city’s ‘cultural’ part. Sadly, the two major museums of Antwerp – The Royal Museum of Fine Arts and MoMu – are temporarily closed for renovation. Who knows, maybe next year?

But for now, scroll down to explore my beloved spots in this forever intriguing city.

Ann Demeulemeester

Entering Ann Demeulemeester‘s spacious store is like approaching the church alter. The Belgian fashion designer’s dark romance oozes from the lace vests, velvet shirts and Victorian frocks with absorbing power, while the multi-storey boutique has a sacred charm about it. The white-wall backdrop makes you look at the details of the clothes with great scrutiny, quite breathless. Ann’s fashion used to be pure poetry with a Flemish twist, and fortunately, Sebastian Meunièr, the current creative director, successfully conveys the Demeulemeester codes in his women’s and men’s collections. And with the help of the Antwerp flagship store – which also holds the studio and atelier – Ann Demeulmeester appears to be one of the finest of Belgian fashion.

Leopold de Waelplaats

Coffee & Vinyl

Love coffee as much as good music? There’s no better place in Antwerp, then. Browse the vast collection of vinyls, from rare Serge Gainsbourg records to Portishead’s albums, while taking a sip of the delightful espresso. For those who love vinyls, but are too audio, there’s an equally impressive selection of CDs.

Volkstraat 45

Atelier D’Anvers

Just a stone throw from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Atelier D’Anvers is a cozy space with a relatively affordable, very well-curated brands. Bags by Jerome Dreyfuss and Sicilian scents by Ortigia are a chic addition to the silk floral dresses, shearling coats and corduroy trousers you will definitely find here.

Volkstraat 54

Enes

A multibrand concept store with a wide range of labels: Joseph, Baum Und Pferdgarten, Vince, Frame, Morobé, J Brand, MSGM… If you’re not really into the clothes Enes sells, the interior will surely surprise. The first floor, filled with plants, little sofas and cushions, has a beautiful outdoor patio, while the second floor has those dramatic hand-carved, wooden walls.

Volkstraat 58

Charlie’s

A quite new breakfast, brunch and coffee spot that feels like a spacious apartment located in a townhouse. Everyday there’s a new specialty menu. That day they served a toast with avocado and crab, which was a literal taste heaven. Classics, like matcha and salad bowls, are always here.

Volkstraat 66

Dries Van Noten

The mecca. The building, in which you see the Van Noten boutique, is fully owned by the designer and is gracefully called Het Modepalais (‘fashion palace’). The name might sound quite over-the-top, but the store is far from that term. It’s like Dries’ fashion – refined, but with an edge. The store feels like an apartment that is temporarily ‘furnished’ with the designer’s gorgeous clothes and accessories from the autumn-winter 2018 collection. Fresh flower bouquets make this place even more like at home.

Nationalestraat 16

A.F. Vandevorst

A.F. Vandevorst‘s store is small, but dynamic. The brand is known for their off-kilter, punky attitude. You better get your hands on those signature, pointy-toe boots – they sell out quickly. I noticed that the boutique sells less clothes than it did last year – quite possibly this Belgian label decided to focus more on leather goods, while keep the ready-to-wear on a bespoke, couture level.

Lombardenvest 20

Graanmarkt 13

I know and admire Graanmarkt 13 for years. At the end of a small old square, there it is: a large space called just like its address. Designed by Vincent Van Buysen, filled with natural light and eclectic furniture, we’ve got the most charming place in the whole Antwerp. The store lately had a transition moment, when they switched from big brands like Marni and Isabel Marant into timeless and more niche ones: Lemaire, Kassl, Salle Privee, Simon Miller or Sofie D’hoor to name a few. The aim was to stop being a victim of fashion industry’s pace of endless trends and collections, and to stay true to personal style and love for quality.  While the store itself is already a fantastic place in its concept, Graanmarkt 13 also has an already renowned restaurant serving organic food (downstairs), a footwear and perfume spot (first floor) and a far-fetched apartment for rent (top floor).

Graanmarkt 13

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Fish & Eat in Antwerp

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Antwerp’s Fish & Eat is not one of those ‘fashionable’ restaurants, that’s for sure. But underrated places are often much, much better than the ones that are currently ‘it’. I will never forget the smoked mussels served in a can, the restaurant’s signature dish. Those tiny prawns on ice were a great appetizer, while the classical sole with home-made fries  was more than delightful. Once you get here (after some heavy, Belgian fashion shopping…), don’t miss a chance to order the very well-supplied plateau de mer!

Volkstraat 65 / Antwerp

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Photos by Edward Kanarecki

A Thing for Concept Stores

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According to the web, the sophisticated term ‘concept store’ is a place where new ideas are put together in a bid to enhance the shopper experience and sell a wider selection of goods to the client. What’s more, many concept stores offer ‘experimental’ elements such as a café or exhibition space, building a connection with shoppers seeking a particular lifestyle. Although that sounds quite exhaustive, concept stores are my favourite type of places, as you can truly explore and try out different smaller brands, rather than one established label – and all that under one roof. Here are the four concept store I’ve recently visited while staying in Antwerp and Berlin.

Damoy is Florence Cools’ world. Here, she curates and sells brand-treasures coming from Belgium, France, Sweden and Denmark that have a kind of modern-romantic knack. Among the racks at her second, newly opened boutique in Antwerp, you will find a local favourite knitwear brand, I Love Mr. Mittens, but also such Scandi-chic pearls as Cecilie Copenhagen. The interior – lovely, warm minimalism – is more than remarkable.

Steenhouwersvest 46 / Antwerp

I know and admire Graanmarkt 13 for years. At the end of a small old square, there it is: a large, cozy space called just like its address. Designed by Vincent Van Buysen, filled with natural light and eclectic furniture, we’ve got the most charming place in the whole Antwerp. The store lately had a transition moment, when they switched from such renowned brands like Marni and Isabel Marant into timeless and more niche ones like Lemaire or Sofie D’hoor. The aim was to stop being a victim of fashion industry’s pace of endless trends and collections, and to stay true to personal style and love for quality.  While the store itself is already a fantastic place in its concept, Graanmarkt 13 is also a beautiful restaurant serving organic food (downstairs) and a far-fetched apartment for rent (top floor).

Graanmarkt 13 / Antwerp

In the heart of Kreuzberg district, Voo Store defines the word “cool“. The concept store – hidden in a former locksmith shop patio – is an industrial space selling brands like Raf Simons, J.W. Anderson, Acne Studios, but also a selection of Prada’s menswear collection.  You can relax and read niche magazines, while taking a sip of delightful coffee from their Companion Coffee place located in the other part of the store.

Oranienstraße 24 / Berlin

The Corner is Berlin’s classic. Combined with installations coming from local artists and a book / beauty section, The Corner has every brands you will love this and the next season: Raf Simon’s Calvin Klein, Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Vetements and many, many more. But also, such ultimate favourites like Céline or Dries Van Noten. Just around the corner (no pun intended…) there’s their menswear shop, while near Kurfürstendamm you’ve got one more location, but smaller, with a more off-duty selection.

Französische Straße 40 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Antwerp’s Finest Houses

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At Dries Van Noten.

Entering Ann Demeulemeester‘s spacious store is like approaching the church alter. The Belgian fashion designer’s dark romance oozes from the lace vests, fragile headpieces and Victorian frocks with absorbing power, while the multi-storey boutique has a sacred charm about it. The white-wall backdrop makes you look at the details of the clothes with great scrutiny, breathless. Ann’s fashion used to be pure poetry with a Flemish twist, and fortunately, Sebastian Meunièr, the current creative director, successfully conveys the Demeulemeester codes in his collections. And with the help of the Antwerp flagship store – which also holds the studio and atelier – Ann Demeulmeester appears to be one of the finest of Belgian fashion.

Leopold de Waelplaats

Other than Ann Demeulemeester, there’s also Dries Van Noten and A.F. Vandevorst, who make contemporary Belgian fashion so crucial. The building, in which you see the Van Noten boutique, is fully owned by the designer and is gracefully called Het Modepalais (‘fashion palace’). The name might sound quite over-the-top, but the store is far from that term. It’s like Dries’ fashion – refined with an edge. It feels like an apartment that is currently ‘furnished’ with the designer’s mesmerising clothes and accessories from his 100th collection. Fresh bouquets of hydrangeas bring even more chic to this (literally) fashionable townhouse. What’s interesting, Dries Van Noten really is a local treasure of Antwerp. That’s evident from the moment you start observing the clients – the crowd of mature, aware-of-themselves women trying on floral dresses and passionately advising on their purchases with their patient (and equally stylish) husbands is surprising. Observing this scene is beautiful and heartwarming in its own way. Meanwhile, trying on faux-furs and preciously embellished sweaters at the menswear floor is double the pleasure…

Nationalestraat 16

A.F. Vandevorst‘s store is small, but dynamic. The brand is known for off-kilter, punky attitude – better get your hands on those chunky knits and signature, pointy-toe boots. They sell out quickly. The braver once might want to indulge themselves in kinky, PVC coats and patchwork dresses coming from the brand’s latest venture into haute couture world.

Lombardenvest 20

All photos from Antwerp are by Edward Kanarecki.