Antwerp: The Coolest Fashion City You’ve Barely Heard Of

New York, Milan, Paris, London. And Antwerp…?

As the Belgian capital of fashion, Antwerp is often overlooked on the global fashion map. The city offers much more than chocolate and beer however. Despite its small size (it’s nearly eight times smaller than London), Antwerp boasts nearly 70 home grown fashion labels, a designated fashion district (located in ‘Het Zuid’ meaning ‘the south’ and pronounced ‘het tzerd’) and even the high street shopping centre is housed in a former state ballroom.

stadsfeestzaal photoPhoto by d_vdm

The city’s relationship with fashion dates back to the 15th century when it gained a reputation for cloth trading, weaving and dyeing. Nowadays, the fashion department at Antwerp’s Royal Academy is considered one of the best in the world (Vetement’s Demna Gvasalia studied here… say no more), and with cheaper living costs than in London, Paris and New York, the city is a hub for fashion start-ups, creative types and young designers looking for something brighter, bolder, different.

Here’s a selection of the best of the city:

Photo: Sonja De Wolf

MoMu Located in the heart of the Zuid, MoMu fashion museum is a contrast of sky-high timber and floor-to-ceiling glass. It has played host to a range of impressive exhibitions and the bookstore is in a class of its own.

Graanmarkt 13. Belgian couple Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens fell in love with the building at Graanmarkt 13 and decided to create a welcoming space for all the beautiful things in life. Today it houses a high-end fashion boutique, a contemporary art gallery, a fantastic restaurant serving simple, light, seasonal dishes, as well as a luxury design apartment accommodating up to six.

Photo: Graanmarkt 13

Collectif d’Anvers Founded by Natalie Van Lijsebettens this atelier showcases her work and that of other top shoe designers, mostly graduates from the city’s Royal Academy. In addition to bespoke designs and sustainable materials, a customised service with traditional beech lasts created for client’s’ feet is available.

Photo: Collectif d’Anvers

Delvaux At over 180 years old, Delvaux claims the title of the world’s oldest luxury leather goods company. Official suppliers to the royalty, it manufactures all its goods in Belgium and since 1908 it has documented each design in “Le Livre d’Or” (The Golden Book). ‘Le Brillant’, Delvaux’s signature design, is stitched by hand and consists of sixty-four pieces of leather and metal finishings.

Photo: Delvaux

Dries van Noten Van Noten’s eccentric, boho style has won over stars such as Cate Blanchett and Maggie Gyllenhaal and are a firm favourite with the Belgian royalty. Born into a family in the tailoring trade, the designer is one of the ‘Antwerp Six’ who took London Fashion Week by storm in 1986. His flagship store is housed in ‘Het Modepaleis’ (the fashion palace), a restored 19th century menswear emporium. Shunning the commercial in favour of a more democratic luxury, Dries van Noten does not sell haute couture – all of the designs are ready to wear and are not advertised.het modepaleis photoPhoto by Michell Zappa


  1. These Four Walls
    March 10, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    Such wonderful tips! I’m off to Antwerp in May and can’t wait. I’ll certainly be checking these places out.

    • theexpater
      March 10, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      You will love it. And judging by your fabulous blog you’ll especially love all the interiors and furniture boutiques. Dont miss the area round, a street full to the brim with antiques, modernist furniture, cute cafes. Enjoy!

  2. Christina Marcella
    August 30, 2017 / 4:00 pm

    Very useful information, indeed. I can’t wait to visit Antwerp and do a bit of shopping. Thank you for sharing.

    • theexpater
      August 30, 2017 / 7:18 pm

      Thanks so much. You will love Antwerp I’m sure. I miss it dearly!

  3. December 4, 2017 / 6:01 am

    Thank you for showcasing Antwerp. The fashion capitals are so much in focus that we hardly get to know anything about any other city.

    • December 4, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Agreed! I love London, Paris, New York but the energy and raw talent in Antwerp is so fresh isn't it? I have never seen so many fantastic independent retailers crammed together in such a small city. Love it!

Comment on this post

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Connect on Instagram
%d bloggers like this: