PARIS — An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx are looking to relight their creative fire with a change of strategy based on discontinuing their ready-to-wear line to focus on a bulked-up footwear collection, as a key pillar of their business, as well as special seasonless clothing capsules.
Known for their mixes of deconstructed tailoring, military influences — including their signature red cross logo — and feminine lingerie inspirations, the Belgian husband-and-wife duo over the past few seasons has been experimenting with different formats for their namesake label. For spring they opted for a film presentation, then for fall partnered with online showroom Ordre.com to present their collection to buyers followed by a physical presentation of the pieces to press and clients during Paris couture week in July. The handicraft-intensive collection included a bustier ballgown crafted from plastic bags. The designers in February also hired a new chief executive officer, Marie Mys, to allow them to focus on the creative part.
“We like the idea of taking the opportunity to make the collections more valuable and precious, to get closer to the client and offer a better service, especially in the challenging wholesale climate,” said Vandevorst.
Going forward, the presentation of the brand’s shoe collection, still working with Ordre.com, will be timed with the Paris ready-to-wear calendar, starting this month, and presented on Ordre.com, while the capsule will be presented each couture week in Paris, starting January.
A boot from the new A.F. Vandevorst collection.
The change in direction, the designers said, was motivated by a desire to revive the creative energy they enjoyed when they first met as students at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Also triggering the decision was the compilation of a 20th-anniversary tome set to launch in Belgium in November, followed by a celebration during Paris couture week in January.
“We still are very passionate about what we do and want to have more time to travel, to discover new things. This is a platform that allows us to be more creative and not to have to deal so much with the commercial side of the business,” said Vandevorst, adding that their flagship store in Antwerp will also undergo a makeover to bring it back in line with the brand’s DNA. The brand today counts around 100 stockists worldwide.