A guide to Vintage in Brussels

Brussels is a beautiful, grand city, but like any capital not the most spotless and frivolous. It’s busy and a little gloomy, too impersonal. I only stop in once a year when I visit home – my parents live near Ghent – but the past few years I have seen significant efforts to make the city more colorful and agreeable: I noticed more trees and flowers and manicured little parks, self-service bicycle stands like the Paris example, the renovation of the Atomium, our national monument. My favorite place is the Zavel or Sablon, with its numerous antiques stores and chocolate shops. The most famous place, at least for tourists, is the Grote Markt or Grand Place, a big square lined with the guild halls, The Bread House, City Hall and many restaurants. A block away, tucked in a tiny corner, you will find Manneken Pis, the little Peeing Man, Belgium considers one of its most photographed citizens. (And he’s cute!) Unfortunately the tourist shots I managed to take between running from one vintage store to another are not the nicest, so my best advice is to go see for yourself!

Vintage shopping in Brussels can take up an entire afternoon. Most of the stores are not too far from each other, but they are quite large and they stock an interesting collection of second hand clothing and designer vintage. Our first stop was Gabriele Vintage in the Kartuizerstraat 27, near The Brussels Stock Exchange. I suspect Gabriele has a not-so-secret passion for hats, because every time we turned our heads she was trying on a new one.

Nina Beckers, 18-year old beauty from Ghent. I scouted Nina last summer on the flea market (coincidence? I’d say not). She has since signed a modeling contract with Dominique Models in Brussels, and Nathalie Models in Paris.
Wearing a corduroy skirt suit and one of those little hats Gabriele loves so much!
Vintage mustard top and Louis Feraud cotton skirt
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac wool, embroidered dress and vintage flower print purse
The store of Valy and Ramon has been a staple in Brussels for many years. The store is full of up-to-the-minute-fashion surprises and funny nick-nacks. They are located in the Verversstraat 19.
Nina and Snobby the poodle
This Marsupilami kimono is a real masterpiece and collector’s item! It dates from 1988. Marsupilami is an anthropomorphic fictional comic book animal created by Andre Franquin, first published in 1952. Marsupilami has since had a lot of spin-offs and cameos in series, books and TV and still exists in a lot of the Belgians’ youth memories. When I was 3 years old I performed as Marsupilami in the school’s year end celebrations!!
Worn with a Leonard belt.

Episode is a huge second hand store with a affiliates in Antwerpen, Holland, Paris and London. Cheap and 80’s. Located in the Steenhouwersvest 34a.
An old wig shop
A store specialized in house slipper ONLY!
Idiz Bogam is a gorgeous store, newly renovated, which now mixes new designers with their incredible, finely curated vintage collection. Located in the Dansaert Straat 76.
One area I didn’t get to do was the Blaes Straat, near the Zavel. It has a weekly flea market and Bernard Gavilan’s vintage store. Unfortunately I ran out of time and met a closed door. Bernard has a second store in Ghent. Please watch (in Franco-Belge) Bernard announce the news of his store opening on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3VhSzW3Pe0.

Bon Apetit!

August 21, 2010

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5 Responses to “A guide to Vintage in Brussels”

  1. avatar
    loveroffashion - Reply

    Nina is adorable! I really dig your blog!!!


  2. avatar
    July Stars - Reply

    I grew up in Luxembourg and spent so many weekends in Brussels with friends! I recently went back and fell in love all over again with the chaotic feel of this city. The art nouveau buildings, Magritte's house in the outskirts, the flee markets and incredible vintage finds (clothes and furniture/objects), the waffles, genuine little Italian restaurants and the mixture of nationalities… I'm planning on going back as soon as possible.
    Your blog is a great source of inspiration by the way, I absolutely adore it. I only wish you would write more!

  3. avatar
    Elizabeth - Reply

    Next time you have to stop by Retro Paradise in the rue américaine. It's next to the Petits Riens, actually it's part of it, they take the "nice" clothes out of what people gave them, so the money goes to the Petits Riens, which is nice.. I'm from Brussels but now I live in Paris and I have to say that this is the place where I've found most of my best vintage pieces! It's not as expensive as the ones you mentionned in your article and they sometimes have designer brands too.. You have to look for the good pieces, but that's the point of thrifting right?
    Anyway, your blog is really interesting, and it's great to know you are from Belgium!

  4. avatar
    Another Man's Treasure Vintage Store - Reply

    We were in Brussels for new years a couple of years back, this post brings back some great memories of vintage shopping there…the markets were cool too!

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