Fashion and diamonds
Antwerp for over 400 years has been known as a centre of trade and commerce firstly by importing herbs and spices such as pepper and cinnamon and then through the lucrative trade in diamonds. It is also known as a centre for lace making. More recently Antwerp has reinvented itself as a hub for the fashion industry in the hope of competing with the likes of Milan, Paris, Rome and New York.
Antwerp’s Diamond District
As 80% of the world’s raw diamonds pass through Antwerp it is natural that the city will have a district dedicated to these gems. Situated near the distinctive central station this area is teeming with diamond and jewellery shops, polishers, cutting workshops and dealers.
For those intending to spend lots of time looking for diamond jewelery whilst visting Antwerp the Astrid Hotel is ideally situated opposite the magnificent train station. Guests shopping for Antwerp diamonds can walk to the sparkling Diamond District in about five minutes.
Read more on the Telegraph’s Girls Guide to Antwerp
Shopping in Antwerp
The main shopping area in Antwerp is the Meir, a street which runs from the Keyserlei, near the central station right down to the Groenplaats. The Stadfestzaal is a shopping centre worth visiting, magnificently restored in 2007 after a fire, it is now a popular place to browse and get retail therapy.
Any visiting fashionistas should get on down to the Hopland and Schuttershofstraat areas of town. This is where you will find all the designer labels and fashion brands such as Cartier, Armani and Hermes. While the Kammenstraat shops just off the Meir possess some attractive outlets. The Kloosterstraat is where you should go if you are looking for antique or vintage purchases as this is where the majority of second hand and bric-a-brac stores are located.
Fashion sense in Antwerp
One place you can trace the roots of Antwerp’s fashion credentials is at the MoMu Museum of Fashion. Here they have on exhibit examples of clothing, lace, fabrics and accessories, also displaying tools of the trades from down the centuries and telling the story of social changes in fashion over the years.
The museum also works in close collaboration with the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, annually promoting the third year students work. The middle of June is the best time for catwalk action as this is when the top world designers descend on the city, while the art school puts on its show at the start of the year.
A special place to discover Antwerp’s cool fashions is in the Graanmarkt 13, a house with fashionable outfits on every floor. Enjoy a light bite in the café and browse the familiar alongside the up and coming designers. This is the perfect setting for those with an eye for the chic.
Cool places to stay in Antwerp
A great place to drop off your shopping bags between trips is a room at the Radisson Park Inn, situated right in the middle of the Diamond District and perfectly placed for the best in Antwerp shopping.
The Park Inn has 59 cool modern rooms, minimalistically decorated with accents of colour splashed throughout. The hotel dishes up a copious buffet breakfast and offers generous discounts for its sister hotel’s gorgeous Square Brasserie & Terrace Restaurant.