Belgium has only one department store chain that is comparable in scale to large US stores like Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. The Galeria Inno, short for Innovation (pronounced the French way), currently has sixteen branches in all the major cities. For Antwerp, the store located in a six story historic building on the main shopping street, has become a retail landmark. One I stop by regularly. As much as I love browsing the unique offerings in small boutiques, I also enjoy the convenience of having such a wide range of quality brands under one roof.
My Mum used to take us to the “Inno” twice a year to stock up on school clothes. We never left without exploring the toys section, and traditionally ended our visits with delicious little fruit tarts and a pot of tea in the café on the top floor. It has been a favourite haunt of mine ever since – undoubtedly part of this has to do with fond memories of all our family shopping trips. Even now, each time I set foot in the door, I remember one particularly fun afternoon. We set out looking for a wedding guest outfit for Christel, our eighteen year old neighbour, but quickly got sidetracked, trying on hats and sunnies, testing perfumes and giggling and chatting our way through the many different departments. It’s funny how nothing spectacular happened, yet that day is stamped on my mind. And oh, rest assured, in the end we did find Christel a fantastic pair of mid-grey silk slouchy trousers. She paired them with black stilettos and a beautiful oversized colour-blocked top in the same grey and a pale yellow. A volume on volume silhouette that would look completely modern again today.
Are there certain stores you’ve been shopping at since you were a child? Perhaps you too have fond memories of visits to a specific store.
New in YLF Books
Ira Neimark was chairman and CEO of Bergdorf Goodman for seventeen years. In The Rise of Fashion and Lessons Learned at Bergdorf Goodman he recounts the company’s evolution from the late sixties to the early nineties. He explains how he and his team developed a very specific strategy that made Bergdorf Goodman into a legendary luxury fashion emporium, and shares his views on the fall of service, the loss of customer loyalty and the importance of the human touch.