The Brussels Bike Hundred

100 portraits, stories and bicycles

We’re teaming up with Bike for Brussels to put together a 100-strong selection of local heroes shaping the city each in their own way. From designers and DJs to performers and publishers, these are the creatives riding Brussels forward.

Valerie Berckmans

Valerie Berckmans, 1976

Fashion designer

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I’m a fashion designer with a boutique-atelier in the Dansaert district since 2006. I design clothes for women and, more recently, a zero-waste collection for kids made out of the leftovers of the ladies’ confection. The collection is graphic and minimalistic, locally produced with organic and recycled fabrics. On a more personal level, I was born in Brussels, the eldest of three daughters, with a fascination and passion for clothes, styles, fabrics, prints and colours since childhood. 

How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?

Brussels is a versatile city with many facets – I think it really helps develop an open mind and urge to question what’s taken for granted. It’s also a city that teaches you that the sublime and hideous can live side by side. There’s a kind of sexiness to be found here that I’d never swap for a tidy, clean and boring town. In my professional life, Brussels’ reputation as a smaller and quite affordable town makes it possible for a designer like me to start out from scratch, in my case with just a sewing machine at my disposal. To build your activity without having to invest too much and doing so step by step. This is a precious luxury, this “human” scale of Brussels.

List three things you like the most about Brussels, bike-related or not.

  • The advantages of a big city combined with those of a small one. Brussels is a capital, with an interesting cultural scene, yet is neither posh nor stressful. And it remains affordable – for the time being, at least.
  • The diversity of its inhabitants. It’s amazing to see so many different nationalities and cultures in such a small city. You’ll never get bored.
  • The small geographical scale, which means you can do pretty much everything by bike. The moments I enjoy the most is biking at night when the city is nearly deserted and you can just fly through empty boulevards, streets and parks…

List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.

Unbeatable timing for short distances, ecology and elegance.

List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.

  • The route that runs alongside valley of Maelbeek. I use it to leave my home in Schaerbeek to go down southwards very quickly, on flat ways. Changing of worlds in no time.
  • Some parts of the Promenade Verte cycling routes, because they allow you to join really different urban places from greener areas. Enjoy the smell of trees and not of gasoline!
  • The canal route to Anderlecht and beyond for its decaying industrial sights. I love the romantic barges and ducks living their peaceful lives.