Ever since RA 13 opened its doors in Antwerp in 2009, it has been a platform for directional fashion and emerging artistic talent driven by the creative minds of owners Romain Brau and Anna Kushnerova. With its Paris branch opening in 2012, RA 13 has expanded its original retail concept to include an exhibition space where it regularly hosts salon events and intimate fashion shows. Recently, I got in touch with RA’s enthusiastic Artistic Director Romain Brau to talk some shop. Here’s what he had to say about his beautiful retail baby.
RA is a shop, restaurant, bookstore, gallery, and platform… this sounds like a lot, tell me more about it!
Romain: Well, the story of RA begins a little long. Three and a half years ago we started with a very big 800 m² space in Antwerp where we had an art gallery, a restaurant and a shop divided into two levels. Of course being young and new in the retail world we had to create an ever changing method of presenting clothes that continues to surprise. In January 2012 we opened a shop in Paris. This brought RA to a higher level, so this was a really good decision! Now we moved our Antwerp store to another location. The shop was too big and we got a bit fed up feeling like a museum, so we decided to hide ourselves a little bit more. Now we found a superb loft in a great 20s building on top of an art gallery. We surprise our customers with some art pieces in the shop and we keep on doing some ‘kitchen moments’ in our own kitchen.
The whole concept sounds quite unique. Why did you start this?
Romain: Well, Anna and I were at school together working out our fashion and art expression. Working together on such a project, at this point of our lives, we couldn’t do anything else than doing it purely in an experimental way and with a very warm touch. We were having our friends from all around the world doing their own collection, so it was easy way to bring something new into the fashion world.
What are the differences between the Antwerp shop and the Paris shop?
Romain: I really love the shop in Paris; it is more edgy and the space really give us a close contact with the customer. The store in Antwerp is on the other hand is interesting in a different way and bigger. In Paris it’s more high luxury with crazy pieces for younger people. We have brands such as Kokon To Zai or JUNN J and close to some high couture pieces from Rodarte and Gareth Pugh. In Antwerp, it is great, too and you will find so many good pieces for any kind of price. We also offer our customers access to older stock items that are heavily discounted, at 70% off all year long. All the kids love to shop there of course!
What kind of brands do you have in you shop? Do you sell any German designers?
Romain: We have so much! We’ve been working with more than 200 designers from the beginning! Right now we are working with a few German designers likeFrank Leder, Julian Zigerli, Bernhard Willhelm and Mykita. Every season we are changing a lot, so RA is always a place to come and feel inspired!
What kind of collaborations do you have planned for the future?
Romain: OMG! RA is all about connecting with everyone for anything! The best would be to have a look on our past program, we did so much! You can see it on our website www.ra13.be. We’ve been involved with projects in Basel, Switzerland, the Fashion Biennale Arnhem, fashion museum Antwerp, a showroom in London with the British Fashion Council. And I’m not even talking about all the exhibitions we did in Paris, Berlin and Antwerp! Right now we are preparing for a performance with Moonspoon Saloon for the Venice Biennale! I think this will never stop, we love it too much! Also we have 2 big projects coming for the end of the year and beginning of next year, but it’s better to keep this a secret for now. Just follow us on facebook or take a look at the website for the latest updates.
Kleine Markt 7 – 9, 1st floor
2000 Antwerp Belgium
+32 (0) 3 292 37 80
14 rue de la Corderie
75003 Paris France
+33 1 427 40 407