The best shopping adresses in Belgium

Covering all your last-minute Christmas shopping needs.

Written by Hanna Moens and Nicholas Lewis, with photography by Joke De Wilde and Stephanie De Smet

Best for books and media

Copyright, Antwerp & Ghent

Arguably one of the best book stores in the country, Copyright is a reference for art book amateurs. Specialising in contemporary art in its broadest sense – visual arts, photography, fashion, architecture – the bookstore has two locations, one in Ghent and one in Antwerp, with the latter attached to the city’s famed fashion museum MoMu, making its selection of titles a little more fashion-orientated. An absolute must for fans of books with an attitude.

28a Nationalestraat (2000)
8 Jakobijnenstraat (9000)
copyrightbookshop.be

International Magazine Store (IMS), Antwerp

Antwerp’s International Magazine Store, or IMS, is, just as its name suggests, the place to go for all things magazines. Boasting an incredibly varied selection of titles – from independent publications to mass media stalwarts – spanning all types of specialised genres – from fashion, photography and music to design, architecture and boating for instance – the magazine mecca counts two locations within Antwerp, with outposts in Leuven and Hasselt too. Their international newspaper selection alone is to die for, and one of the many reasons it’s top of our list when in need of a media refill.

31-253 Hopland (2000)
17 Melkmarkt (2000)
imstijdschriften.be

Candide, Brussels

Located on Place Brugmannplein right next to all-day diner Gaudron, Candide is exactly what you expect from your neighbourhood bookstore. A well-stocked, well-balanced magazine rack, just the right amount of international newspapers, a strong selection of both fictional and non-fictional books as well as a kids section to cater to the area’s young parents. To top it all off, the owner Pierre and his team of abled assistants are always happy to discuss or suggest a title, making the actual process of discovering a new author and stumbling on a gem all the more rewarding. If we had anything to do with it, every neighbourhood in Belgium should have itself a Candide.

1-2 Place Georges Brugmannplein (1050)
librairiecandide.tumblr.com

Peinture Fraîche, Brussels

Peinture Fraîche, situated on the Châtelain / Kastelein area’s Parvis de la Trinité / Drievuldigheidsplein, is a prerequisite destination for the city’s artist community. In part because of its focus on art books but also because of its close proximity to both L’ERG and La Cambre, the beautiful bookstore is a favourite of artists, graphic designers, architects and designers who come to its shelves for inspiration. Its selection of limited-edition titles is impressive, with its wide-angled window often given to display its pricier ones. Without a doubt one of the more reliable and continuously relevant bookstores in the city.

Rue du Tabellion 10 Notarisstraat (1050)
peinture-fraiche.be

Tipi Bookshop, Brussels

Tipi, a photography bookshop located in the upper quarters of Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillis, specialises in self-published photography books and other print-related works released by international indie publishing imprints. Owned and operated by Andrea Copetti, himself a photographer who likens his role to that of a curator, the boutique has built a reputation for itself amongst the city’s photography circles thanks to its unique selection. Copetti’s passion for the genre, which goes beyond mere trend, is undeniable, a fact noticeable in the depth and detail of his catalogue. Aided by an online store that comes to complete its offering, Tipi distinguishes itself through its razor-sharp focus on and unshakable support for independent publishing.

Rue Hôtel des Monnaies 186 Munthofstraat (1060)
tipi-bookshop.be

Riot, Ghent

Both a gallery and bookshop, Riot is run by the team behind Art Paper Editions, the country’s pioneering independent publishing imprint founded by graphic designer Jurgen Maelfeyt. The bookshop essentially relies on the founders’ extensive years and experience in the game, with its open-plan layout home to catalogues of art book publishers such as Spector Book, Sternberg Press, Centerfold editions and many more. Housed in a former bottling factory in the up-and-coming yet lively Dendermondesteenweg, the renovated building now acts as a testing ground for Maelfeyt’s ambition: “This area is a perfect mix: old-fashioned bakeries and supermarkets are neatly intertwined with hip coffee bars and creative offices. That’s why I wanted to make this neighbourhood even more attractive, by renovating a site for creative purposes.” And, together with their neighbours – restaurant Alberte, the headquarters of independent music monthly Subbacultcha and coffee house Clouds in My Coffee – things seem to be moving in the right direction.

80 Dendermondsesteenweg (9000)
riot-ghent.org

Best for design

Espoo, Antwerp

One of the first stores to bring all the so-called ‘new Nordic’ brands – think Hay, Normann, Muuto – to the country, Espoo has gone on to cement its place on the design scene as a space for emerging talent to break out next to more established names. As the owners say themselves, “We remained faithful to our own style and combined established brands with younger, less obvious ones. It’s a challenge to find a balance between those two, and it’s very rewarding to spot and select new talents.” With such an outlook, it’s no surprise the outspot is one of the country’s preferred design destinations.

49-50 Vlaamse Kaai (2000)
espoo.be

Helder, Antwerp

Helder is the brainchild of Antwerp-based duo Brecht Baert and Diana Keller who’ve joined forces to design and develop products, furniture and interiors as well as run their own design store. More than a store, Helder is a place where they feel at ease: “It’s our workplace and our studio where we combine interior, furniture an accessory design. On top of our own designs, we also see the store as a platform for other international artists that are sometimes harder to find in the area.” Your go-to place for all things original and unique.

13 Vrijdagmarkt (2000)
studiohelder.be

InStore, Brussels

Located in the Brussels district of Ixelles / Elsene, InStore carries upmarket design heavyweights such as Knoll, Boffi, Artek, Thonet, Vitra, Flos and many, many more. Housed in a multi-layered space stocked to the brim with all kinds of sofas, day beds, chairs, tables, lamps and other types of design accessories for the home; the store distinguishes itself through its knowledgeable staff always on hand with the odd tip or two. With a continuously updated roster of pieces on show, this is the place to go to for classic design that’ll stand the test of time.

Rue Tenbosch 90-92 Tenbosstraat (1050)
instore.be

 

La Fabrika, Brussels

On the far end of Rue Dansaertstraat, right opposite downtown institution Walvis, interiors shop La Fabrika caters to Brussels’ design aficionados. Their expertly curated combination of well-known and up-and-coming names unites the best in contemporary living imprints. The first part of the store is on street level, but there’s a lot more to be found downstairs, where you can dig up a variety of inspiring items such as designs by Vitra, Ercol, String, Donna Wilson and Hay to name but a few. And, if the store’s own aesthetics tickles your fancy, owners Kelly Claessens and Benoît Deneufbourg’s interior design skills are available for hire. An essential address on the city’s design circuit.

182 Rue Dansaertstraat (1000)
lafabrika.be

The Game, Brussels & Antwerp

Launched by Alexis Ryngaert of design art dealer Victor Hunt fame, The Game burst onto the scene a few years ago with a colourful selection of brands you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Steering away from the usual suspects, the downtown outpost hunts for younger, more upscale brands without the exorbitant accompanying price tag. Brands like PCM or Hem offer a surprising selection of home accessories and furniture, often signed by big names like Max Lamb or our very own Sylvain Willenz. Complemented by a sizeable online offering, this is definitely the place for design addicts in search of something different.

123 Boulevard Anspachlaan (1000)
55 Nationalestraat (2000)
the-game-online.com

Ydee, Ghent

Consisting of two locations nestled in the heart of Ghent, Ydee is an integral part of the city’s design scene. The first outpost, in Oudburg, is a sprawling showroom that carries big statement pieces meant to define a room, and its house – hence the contextual scenography meant to inspire. The second, smaller outpost in Onderbergen focuses on accessories: pots, posters, pillows and the likes. Both locations combine a tight set of brands, mixing known names with up-and-coming, edgier imprints such as Gubi, Kinnasand, Karimoku New Standard and others. An essential for local design dons.
56 Oudburg (9000)

21 Onderbergen (9000)
ydee.be

Best for fashion

 

Graanmarkt 13, Antwerp

A restaurant, a boutique and recently also a boutique/apartment/exhibition space OR boutique-cum-apartment-cum-exhibition space, Graanmarkt 13 is Antwerp’s answer to high-end concept stores. Stocking a tightly-curated selection of upscale fashion, beauty and design by the likes of Common Projects, Marni, Lemaire or Isabel Marant, all effortlessly combined with stunning pieces of jewellery and top-notch beauty products. Top that off with Seppe Nobels’ fine vegetable dining and a regular programme of exhibitions (by local heroes such as Frederik Vercruysse, Jasper Krabbé and Muller Van Severen to name a few) and you’ve got yourself a favourite of the city’s demanding style tribe.

13 Graanmarkt (2000)
graanmarkt13.be

Louis, Antwerp

Antwerp is known as Belgium’s de-facto fashion capital, and stores like Louis have played a big part in shaping this reputation. One of the city’s preeminent retail pioneers, the upmarket outpost carries international brands such as Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Lanvin whilst also retaining a big place in its heart for local heroes – Maison Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, A.F. Vandevorst, Raf Simons and the likes. Although price points are, for the most part, at sky-high levels, the unquestionable eye, detail and quality with which its wares are picked ensures Louis continues to remain relevant with the city’s fashion cognoscenti, not least thanks to its yearly collaboration with Antwerp Fashion Academy Masters students that sees one lucky talent showcase his or her final year collection in the store.

2 Lombardenstraat (2000)
facebook.com/Louis

Vier, Antwerp

Antwerp’s upmarket streetwear aficionados call Vier home. A small boutique located bang in the middle of Kammenstraat, the boutique exists at the intersection between skatewear and high fashion, carrying such iconic brands as Stussy, Norse Project, Neighborhood, Stone Island and Trasher as well as its own imprint, Vier Antwerp. Its sneakers selection is especially prized, with hard-to-find limited editions such as the Raf Simons and Adidas collabs on racks. For those who claim not to take their fashion too seriously, but actually do.

66 Kammenstraat (2000)
vierantwerp.com

Centreville, Brussels

Filling the gap in terms of mid-range menswear in downtown Brussels, Centreville is a cosy and airy men’s only boutique that was founded by friends Jeremy and Nicolas. Stocking understated streetwear staples such as Han Kjobenhavn, Norse Projects, A Kind of Guise, the stores focuses for the most part on clothing – trousers, t-shirts, coats and sweaters – whilst peppering its shelves with the odd accessory or two. The underlining thread is the close watch paid to provenance and production processes, with the overriding aim always to provide stylish and sturdy gear for the urban explorer.

Rue des Chartreux 36 Karthuizerstraat (1000)
centrevillestore.com

Hunting & Collecting, Brussels

Without a doubt the city’s most beloved concept store, Hunting and Collecting has gone from strength to strength since its opening in 2010. Founded by Niels Radtke and Aude Gribomont, the boutique has firmly established a reputation thanks to its uncanny ability for talent-spotting and big-name collaboration. Carrying everything from high-browed international fashion imprints and upscale designer goods to accessories, perfumes and homewares, the sprawling store distinguishes itself by the exclusive labels – Y-3, Carven, Acne – it brings to the fore. Smaller, more limited collections such as Stromae’s Mosaert and exclusive designs by cult kidswear brand Petit Bateau guarantee it constantly remains one step ahead. And the Brussels retail scene has a lot to thank it for.

Rue des Chartreux 17 Karthuizerstraat (1000)
huntingandcollecting.com

Stijl, Brussels

Having pretty much made Brussels’ Dansaert district into what it is today, Sonja Noël’s pioneering high fashion outpost Stijl, which she opened back in 1984, was famously one of the first Belgian boutiques to put in an order for the Antwerp Six’s debut collections. A forward-looking style store that carries such avant-garde international brands as Rick Owens, Norwegian Rain and Vetements, it is its relentless support of local designers – Haider Ackermann or Dries Van Noten – that sets it apart. Now separated into two different locations on the same street, one for womenswear and the other for menswear, Stijl’s dominance remains unchallenged.

Rue Dansaertstraat 74 (1000)
Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains 6 Nieuwe Graanmarkt (1000)
stijl.be

Best for outdoors

De Kampeerder, Antwerp

Whether heading out for a Himalayan trek or a hiking trip out in the Belgian Ardennes, Antwerp’s De Kampeerder is an essential address for all types of outdoor activities. From pocket knives and backpacks to tents and walking shoes, the store’s sprawling interiors and considerable selection spawns trekking, climbing and speleology, carrying just about everything you might need for your great outdoor adventure, down to the maps and compasses. With a second location in the city, aptly named K2, as well as an online store, De Kampeerder has, quite literally, got all bases covered.

21 Leopoldstraat (2000)
109 Frankrijklei (2000)
kampeerder.be

Lecomte, Brussels

As the country’s pioneering hiking store, Brussels’ Lecomte is a dream come true for both experienced and aspiring mountaineers alike. Huddled in a small street off Ixelles / Elsene’s Place Flageyplein, right besides Théâtre Marni, the outdoor outpost – opened in 1950 by Jean Lecomte, the inventor of nylon ropes – is a treasure trove of specialist gear. With most sales assistants behind the counters lifelong hikers, climbers and trekkers themselves, the advice on hand is as invaluable as the plethora of items on sale is life-saving. With an additional store in Uccle / Ukkel, one in Waterloo as well as an online equivalent, Lecomte is an essential pit-stop before your next foray into the wild.

27 Rue de Vergniesstraat (1050)
505 Chaussée de Bruxelles (1410)
lecomte-alpirando.be

Best for pots and plants

Pépinières de Boitsfort, Brussels

One of the biggest and oldest places in Belgium, Pépinières de Boitsfort has been a classic ever since it opened back in 1949 when Albert De Taffe decided to renovate an abandoned field on the city’s outskirts. After almost 70 years of loyal service, the sprawling complex now boasts everything you can possibly imagine for the garden: shrubs, house plants, aquatic plants, perennials, bamboos, a gorgeous cactus selection … The list is endless. They even have a little place outside surrounded by roses and climbing plants where you can sit, relax and take in some fresh air. An idyllic little piece of nature in the middle of Brussels. And still one of the city’s best post for green thumbs.

Avenue des Archiducs 76 Aartshertogenlaan (1170)
pepiniere.be

De Groene Droom, Antwerp

Upon first impressions, De Groene Droom looks like it just opened a few months ago, but in fact the plant shop has existed since 1996. Founder Yunus is a passionate florist who first started off as an apprentice in 1988 and, after several years of working as an employee, decided to open up his own shop with his partner and husband. In 2003, the pair undertook major renovations, adding some space and size with the opening of their Pots & Plants section which averages about 250 different plants divided in three categories: interior plants, hydroculture plants and terrace plants. Everything from Cactus, Beaucarnea, Crassula, Yuca, Citrus plants and more – much much more. And if your place is in need of redecorating, Yunus can help too. An essential address.

51 Kasteelpleinstraat (2000)
34 Oude Leeuwenrui (2000)
degroenedroom.be

PIET Moodshop, Ghent

Despite the old-school, vintage storefront, PIET Moodshop offers modern interior accessories, design objects as well as a fine selection of plants. For owner and interior designer Christophe Verbeke, plants add the final touch to your decoration, rounding up a given aesthetic to perfection. Prices are in the accessible range, which makes the place a favourite of the neighbourhood’s cash-strapped students looking for ways to uplift their student accommodation. “We are always looking for new and special things and I also try to stay affordable for everybody.” The shop specialises in cactuses and succulent plants, which are both low maintenance species, and his favourite plant is the fairly rare Pilea peperomioides, also know as the Chinese money plant or the pancake plant.

94 Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat (9000)
pietmoodshop.be

Mirte, Leuven

Mirte is all about pots. Wooden pots, ceramic pots, porcelain pots, patchwork pots… Pots of all shape and form. And, to go with its wide selection of pots, the boutique also stocks plants, and little ones in particular – from the Sedum morganium (or donkey tail) and succulents to the odd cactus or two. Going beyond being mere shop, Mirte engages with its loyal band of followers through a series of events, exhibitions and workshops, all around the theme of the botanical. Think concept store with a modern touch and family vibe that is guaranteed to make your home that much more unique.

3 Vismarkt (3000)
mirte.be

Best for vintage design and clothing

City Furniture, Antwerp

City Furniture and Cover & Couch are two different businesses that share the same space. It was the feel of the area and architecture of the building that first lured them both to this part of town on Antwerp’s rejuvenated Britselei. “The neighbourhood’s wide avenues and stately homes evoke a sort of Parisian grandeur which matches the type of objects we gather,” say Lenz Vermeulen, gallerist at City Furniture, and Sofie D’Hoore, whose business Cover & Couch upholsters and refurbishes iconic classics and modern gems. Beyond its retail operations, City Furniture also boasts a considerable e-shopping experience, one of the first in Belgium to focus solely on vintage design (Lenz has fervently been collecting vintage furniture since 1996), where you’ll often be able to find the same rare digs available on the ground floor shop. On the first floor, and in addition to her upholstery business, Sofie D’Hoore also creates her own collections of design accessories, such as her playful set of geometric pillows, making the pair something of a perfect match.

39 Oudstrijderstraat (2140)
city-furniture.be

Michael Marcy, Antwerp

“I’ve always said that the Mechelsesteenweg would become the new design destination in Antwerp,” claims granddaddy of Antwerp’s vintage design scene Michael Marcy. And, with two stores a stone’s throw from each other, his contribution to the neighbourhood’s ascension is undeniable. Vintage Wooninrichting is his slightly more accessible shop, with a lot of mid-century modern and Scandinavian touches, all at affordable prices. His pride and glory though is his showroom in the Sint-Jozefstraat. Walking in feels like stepping into someone’s private museum. Indeed, this is where the tireless collector gathers his prime pieces, bringing some of the biggest names together in one place. Emphasis is squarely put on Belgian pieces and objects influenced by Pop Art. The very first Panton chairs, a rare Castiglioni speaker set or an original Willy Van der Meeren for instance. The uncontested heavyweight, Michael Marcy is an absolute treasure trove for design addicts.

78 Sint-Jozefstraat (2018)
marcymichael.com
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Rosier 41, Brussels

ROsier 41 does vintage fashion as you wouldn’t expect it. Stocking big name vintage pieces by the likes of Chanel, Van Noten and Dior, the boutique specialises in vintage items that are three years old or less and in pristine condition, with new arrivals coming in daily. Also finding rooms on its shelves for pieces straight out of the showroom, making it the ideal mix-and-match emporium, it is ROsier 41’s soft spot for fashion graduates and up-and-coming designers – whom it regularly invites to dress up the boutique’s windows and displays – that distinguishes it from the rest. And, with an ever-evolving roster of the brands and collections it carries, liking its Facebook page and signing up to its newsletter remains your best bet yet to be kept in the loop.

41 Rosier (2000)
rosier41.be

Isabelle Bajart, Brussels

“When I launched the shop, I wanted to propose my own vision of vintage clothing, moving away from the retro total look and the idea that clothes were nicer in the past and only in the past.” And, with the opening of her eponymous store in 2008, it is fair to say that Isabelle Bajart has pretty much succeeded in adding a bit of style and substance into the genre. With a background in fashion design, making her an astute trend-spotter – she has been known to back the odd emerging graduate or two that has gone on to big things – it is her knack for combination that makes her now iconic store such an inspiration, contextualising her finds in such a way as to make you forget they are second hand. Creativity and above all originality are key here, making the shop a favourite amongst the city’s fashion designing tribes.

Rue des Chartreux 25 Kartuizersstraat (1000)
isabellebajart.be

Via Antica, Brussels

A sprawling, 2000m² space spread out across three floors, Via Antica is a market-like indoor vintage design mecca that brings together 30 different dealers under one same roof. A successive series of pocket islands of distinctive tastes and focus, each dealer has his own zone with its own speciality, making strolling through Via Antica’s floors and alleys a pleasure to the eye. The perfect place to go treasure hunting on a Sunday afternoon, the sheer amount of pieces on display – from mid-century modern dining chairs and art nouveau coffee tables to ’70s lava lamps and oversized signpost letterings – is fascinating. Nestled in the heart of the Marolles / Marollen neighbourhood, Via Antica remains a favourite for design lovers not too sure what they’re looking for, but pretty sure they’ll come across it at some point.

40 Rue Blaesstraat (1000)
viaantica.be

Vêtu & Vêtue, Brussels

Vêtu & Vêtue specializes in the upper ranges of vintage, often selling much thought-after pieces at bargain prices. Following a career in fashion, owner Marie seized upon her chance to open her own shop in the area, two different locations across the street from each other, one for men and another for women. With a tendency for pieces by Belgian designers and renowned international names which haven’t been worn that much – a lot of the items on display come directly from fashion shows or fittings – it is the shop’s windows that have earned it a cult following amongst the city’s fashion cognoscenti, its colour-coded approach attesting to the attention to detail with which vintage fashion is treated here.

5 & 12 Rue Leon Lepagestraat (1000)
facebook.com/VETU-515297115163408
facebook.com/vetuefemmes