I'm cheerleading chanting because a) I'm back in London (at least for a while...) and b) despite the manic timetable of the weekend, it ended on a roaring RA note in Antwerp. Dan Thawley of Dan the Scout contacted me to alert me to the store/project/creative outlet that is RA13 so off to Kloosterstraat I went to discover RA 13 in its unfinished form, complete with builders, sawdust and plastic-wrapped clothes. Despite all of that though, I got that egg-cited feeling and my head has been planted with seedlings of enthusiasm for RA13.
Two recent Royal Academy of Antwerp grads Romain Brau and Anna Kushnerova came together at a party and night-dreamed up this store that has gotten more ambitious by the day. RA13 will officially open next week so I'm of course gutted I won't be there to check it out in person but this sneak preview has set in motion the need for another Antwerp-bound trip. Firstly, let's just get the label selection over and out there as it's a vast one...
ra 1st floor | Gareth Pugh | Giles | Louise Goldin | Ann Sofie Back | Charles Anastase | Hannah Marshall | David Szeto | Damir Doma | John Rocha | Juun J | Commuun | Frank Leder | Richard Nicholl | Wilfried Mayer | Ute Ploier | Mikio Sakabe | Akira Naka | Tillman Lauterbach
ra 2nd floor | henrik vibskov | stine goya | fabrics interseason | material boy | makin jan ma | julia&ben | cosmic wonder | bless | b-store | chloë sevigny for opening ceremony | peter jensen | kitsune | arne & carlos | ek thongprasert | facetasm
ra collaborating designers | katie eary | trushar | helena lumelsky | giuseppe virgone
... it's not just that the range of labels are vast but that there's a very global emphasis when it could so easily have been Antwerp-centric. Having had a peek through the racks, the guys at RA have bought a mixture of commercial/wearable/buyable pieces as well as more daring pieces which is a feat considering the number of labels coming into the store. I only snapped a few but you get the idea I think with the list above.
Hannah Marshall // Charles Anastase
Richard Nicoll - still vastly in love with his A/W 09 collection...
Gareth Pugh - not that his pieces need captioning...
Even in its unfinished state, I could also get a feel for what the 800 sq metre space will look like what with its emphasis on natural materials and surreal portions. I'm sure I'll need to update this post once it's finished but I saw outdoor spaces integrated with the store, reconstituted foam strip changing rooms, a thatched cottage that houses the tills, talk of an astroturf hill running inside the store and chickens running around in the hut that forms the entrance to the store. The space is also going to be home to a music area, a bookstore, exhibition area, food area as well as a designer vintage section. So RA has got 'concept store' DNA running through it all and whilst, yes none of these elements are particularly new to a store but I think it's the combination of the design aesthetic, the selection of designers, its location on the charming Kloosterstraat (no playing 'hard to get' here like some stores like to do) and also Brau and Kushnerova's enthusiasm for supporting young, creative talent that will drive even more fashion affectionados to Antwerp if they haven't been already.