As Antwerp, Belgium continues to make its name in the fashion and art scenes, "super-concept" stores have emerged. These stores include everything from art galleries to organic cafes, vintage shopping and a selection of wares to wear from various designers. Basically, they're like smaller, hipstery versions of department stores -- and they're a lot more fabulous to be spotted in.
One of these spaces I visited was Ra
, at Kloosterstraat 13. Ra has an 800 square meter space with an internet cafe, a bookshop reminiscent of what you'd find in a museum, an open art installation space with the latest exhibition, a kitchen serving a full menu of healthy food (the kind I like to call "aggressively healthy," like carrot soups and tofu), some antiques and two floors of carefully curated designer clothing, shoes, jewelry and other accessories, including some one-of-a-kind pieces from emerging designers. Catching on? Super-concept shops accommodate pretty much everything people of certain lifestyles want. They're one-stop-shops for their target demographic; and the kind of place you could spend a whole Saturday without getting bored.
Another super-concept venue I visited was Hospital
, a scrap metal dealer's warehouse-turned-boutique. They have an art space, fabulous clothing for sale and a restored vintage car -- also for sale. I dined at the adjoining restaurant and wine bar The Glorious, which was glorious (see gallery for mouth-watering pictures), and mingled with a completely different crowd from the Ra-goers (Hospital is a posher, deliciously more pretentious scene).
Obviously, this idea is brilliant.