ANTWERP, Belgium — Yohji Yamamoto has opened his largest store in the world smack in the center of Antwerp's fashion hub.
Spanning some 10,300 square feet, the store opened last month on the ground floor of ModeNatie, home to the Flanders Fashion Institute, the Antwerp Fashion Academy and the MoMu fashion museum.
Filling the gargantuan space meant gathering Yamamoto's entire portfolio of labels, including Limi Feu, the women's line designed by his daughter, Limi.
"So far, her line's been selling particularly well," said Keizo Tamoto, Yamamoto's executive vice president and chief executive officer, who described strong business overall.
"[Customers in Antwerp] are individuals. It's a good place for niche, designer-driven brands," he said, projecting first-year sales of around 1.5 million euros, or $2.2 million.
Previously an Italian restaurant, the space, now bathed in dazzling white, has been stripped back with the help of local Belgian architect Wim Goes. Briefed to keep design to a strict minimum, Goes made white pillars the main structural element of the store's cavernous hall, edged with sweeping white canvas blinds that fold to form hexagonal soundproof fitting rooms. Strips of neon lighting can also be adjusted according to the weather, from a dim glow to a searing glare.
While Antwerp might not be top-of-mind for a Japanese designer's flagship, Yamamoto is considered to be a spiritual father of sorts among local fashion heroes like Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs and Veronique Branquinho, all of whom gathered at the opening-night party.
"There's a great respect between Belgian and Japanese designers as their worlds go very well together," said Kaat Debo, head curator of MoMu, which hosted a Yamamoto exhibition, presciently titled "Dream Shop," in 2006.
Next up for Yamamoto is a unit on Gansevoort Street in New York, slated to open in January, followed by a three-level store on Rue Cambon in Paris in March.