SHOE DOWN: Antwerp shoe destination Coccodrillo is closing its doors after 36 years, marking the latest independent multibrand retailer to shut as consumers shift to new shopping habits.
The boutique, founded in 1983 by partners Geert Bruloot and Eddy Michiels, helped launch local designers such as Martin Margiela and Raf Simons, in addition to supporting young talent by creating an annual shoe award for fashion students at the local Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
“Fashion has been in a state of flux due to overproduction and radically different luxury consumption patterns during recent years. Fueled by a year-round discount and sales culture, consumers have shifted their attention to new priorities like art and leisure which ultimately impacted the viability of our multibrand boutique,” Bruloot said in a statement.
Increased competition from online retailers such as Amazon and Zalando is threatening the survival of leading concept boutiques. Landmark Paris concept store Colette closed in 2017 after 20 years in business, while London boutique Browns was snapped up in 2015 by fashion retail platform Farfetch.com, which turned it into a retail incubator.
“We’ll miss Coccodrillo greatly, but we have decided to move on and look very much forward to new ventures in and beyond the world of creativity,” Bruloot said. “We’re eager to expand our horizons and are already working on next steps beyond fashion to art, design, multimedia and all-round creative ways of living.”
Historically located on Schuttershofstraat, the main boutique moved in 2017 into a 2,700-square-foot flagship store in the Arenbergstraat, designed by Glenn Sestig. The brand said prolonged roadworks and infrastructure developments had made it difficult for customers to reach the store.
“Combined with the big changes in fashion and retail, the full potential of this new project was impacted,” it said.
The store sold established brands such as Prada, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi, Chloé, Gucci, Dries Van Noten and Church’s, and its window displays have featured exclusive designs by the likes of Nicholas Kirkwood, Simone Rocha, Tabitha Simmons and Simon Porte Jacquemus.
Winners of the annual Coccodrillo Award, founded in 1998, include Demna Gvasalia and Shone Puipia, who went on to cofound footwear label Adult. Bruloot and Michiels also donated designer hats and shoes to the MoMu Fashion Museum, many of which were featured in the “Footprint” exhibition co-curated by Bruloot in 2016.