Collective Space has transitioned from well-established distribution agency to Scandi-flavored indie retailer with its own small-scale production of locally made pieces. Previously based in Amsterdam, the store and its owner Annemarie Remoundos now call Antwerp home, with the flagships of Dries Van Noten, Ann Demelueumeester and Stephan Schneider located just a stone’s throw away. We sat down with Remoundos to learn more about Collective Space.
How did the idea behind Collective Space’s current incarnation arise?
The idea crept up on us over a period of time. The industry has changed drastically since my husband Enrico Remoundos and I started out as an agency fifteen years ago, acting as distributors for various brands including Tiger of Sweden, while also running shop-in-shops for some of the brands we represented. The agency grew quite big, though we felt we weren’t able to expand further since retail business models have changed over the last few years, with a few dominant verticals and E-shops now reigning supreme. Leaving our agency behind, we wanted to focus on what we believe in, and since we don’t think traditional retailing works anymore, we’ve developed something of a vertical ourselves, but on a small and local scale – producing one single item at a time– while also selling labels we love such as Karin Rodebjer, Uniforms for the Dedicated and Won Hundred.
You opened the doors to Collective Space in Antwerp in March 2016. How does it fit into the local shopping landscape? What has it added to the mix?
In Amsterdam, where we were based previously, Scandinavian fashion is quite big but I’d say Paris and Italy rule in terms of style influence in Antwerp, meaning that few stores cater for consumers with a penchant for the clean, cool look associated with Scandinavian fashion. Judging by the number of regulars we’ve attracted, we’ve helped fill a gap in our local market.
Aside from being local, how else would you describe the customer?
She’s someone who appreciates quality and design with a Scandinavian feel, supported by a story and a strong identity that is quite niche. Our customer base is quite diverse - in terms of age it’s not unusual that we get mother/daughter duos coming in.
What qualities do you rate highest in the designers you stock – take Karin Rodebjer, for example?
The more commercial Scandinavian brands tend to share the same DNA; we’ll always love their clean, beautiful cuts. But by stocking Rodebjer, we can satisfy a customer with a more feminine leaning, particularly since the Parisian vibe is so strong in Antwerp. Rodebjer’s pieces have details that add something extra, giving each garment added value and a heightened sense of luxury. She has all the qualities one would expect from a Scandinavian designer – clean lines and functionality– but she’s not afraid of pushing her work a bit further.
Tell us more about your own product line and how it will develop.
Each season, we’ll design and produce a single, locally-made product. Due to launch in-store and online November 15th is Skirtbird, a lovely and diverse range of skirts in different cuts and fabrics. The second offering, which we’ve named Lvndr Studio, is dedicated to tops and it’ll drop at the end of November. We don’t intend to build private labels – the idea is to develop stories unique to each line of product. Since we won’t produce high volumes or full collections, we’ll be able to introduce the product 6-8 weeks from inception. This will allow us to respond to our customers’ desires and demands quickly. Sometimes we might take our cue from global trends and phenomena emerging in the digital world.
As for denim, what styles have sold well recently?
We’ve seen a demand for high fashion styles; very special and expensive denim priced at about €300. The bootcut has done well. But our younger consumer still tends to go for skinny fits.
Any other bestsellers?
Over the summer, unique statement pieces sold well– garments that stood out and had a one-off feel about them and were priced a little higher, such as Rodebjer’s more dramatic, floor length silk dresses.
What’s the thinking behind the store interior?
The building itself is a converted bakery and it houses our design studio and offices as well as the shop. The store design is in keeping with the Scandinavian vibe of the collections we sell – it’s clean and minimalist in feel with wooden elements and white walls.
Lastly, where do you go to find inspiration and discover new labels?
We travel a lot and visit the tradeshows of Copenhagen and Paris but you can unearth so much in the digital world. Look at Etsy, for instance –so many new labels use this particular platform as a springboard to launch their creative businesses.
Tel:+31 (0)6 54974207